Thornhill, West Yorkshire

Last updated

West Yorkshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within West Yorkshire
Population6,875 (2005)
OS grid reference SE245185
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Historic county
Post town DEWSBURY
Postcode district WF12
Dialling code 01924
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°39′44″N1°36′45″W / 53.6622°N 1.6124°W / 53.6622; -1.6124 Coordinates: 53°39′44″N1°36′45″W / 53.6622°N 1.6124°W / 53.6622; -1.6124

Thornhill is a village and former township in Dewsbury, Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Thornhill was absorbed into Dewsbury County Borough in 1910. It is located on a hill on the south side of the River Calder, and has extensive views of Dewsbury, Ossett and Wakefield. It is known for its collection of Anglo-Saxon crosses.



Thornhill is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as within the ancient wapentake of Agbrigg, [1] while Anglian crosses and other remains indicate that there was a settlement here by the 9th century. A hoard of 27 Roman denarii found in Turnip lane and pottery at the cross indicates substantially earlier settlement. The tombstone of a certain very high-ranking Anglian called Osberht (a very rare find) was found in the graveyard of Thornhill Parish Church. Some historians claim that the grave bearing the name Osbehrt is that of King Osberht, who was killed on 21 March 867 while fighting the Viking Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless. The gravestone (among other contemporaneous high-status Anglian gravestones) is on display in the church. The local place-names of Ludd Well (shown in a 1602 map) and the Combs indicate Celtic settlement. This is reinforced by the dedication of the Parish Church to St Michael, which is typical for churches in high places in formerly Celtic parts of northern England. The Celtic kingdom of Elmet (covering modern West Yorkshire) collapsed in AD 617. In 1320 Edward II granted a charter for a market and a fair. [2]

This is the original coat of arms for the Thornhill family, before they married in with the Saviles. Thornhill coat of arms.jpg
This is the original coat of arms for the Thornhill family, before they married in with the Saviles.

In the reign of Henry III, Thornhill Hall was the seat of the Thornhill family, who intermarried with the De Fixbys and Babthorpes in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II. In the reign of Edward III, Elizabeth Thornhill, the only child of Simon Thornhill, married Sir Henry Savile. This extinguished the family line of Thornhills of Thornhill which now passed its property down the Savile line. Thornhill now became the seat of the powerful Savile family. [3]

The Saviles later intermarried with the Calverley family as well, so that when Sir John Savile died in 1503 in Thornhill, he left provision in his will for his sister Alice, married to Sir William Calverley. [4] Sir William Savile, the third baronet of the family, fortified the hall.

Seizure of Thornhill Hall

The Saviles remained here until the English Civil War when the house was besieged. As royalist heroine since the siege of Sheffield Castle in 1644, Lady Anne Savile's troops under Capt. Thomas Paulden (brother of William Paulden) in August 1648 defended Thornhill Hall against the Parliamentary forces under Col. Sir Thomas Fairfax. They were forced to surrender and the hall was destroyed. [5]

St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill Parish Church St Michael and All Angels, Thornhill 1.jpg
St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill Parish Church

The Old Rectory survived and was home to several prominent vicars, most notably John Michell, who first rose to international prominence by developing an understanding of earthquakes, then devised an experiment to accurately determine the mass of planet Earth, but perhaps most intriguingly for Thornhill, attracted Benjamin Franklin (founding father of the USA), Joseph Priestley, Jan Ingenhousz, John Smeaton and others to a scientific meeting and overnight stay in 1771. Benjamin Franklin's stay in Thornhill remained unknown until 2015.

Some ruins of the house and the moat still remain at Thornhill Rectory Park. [6] The moat still retains water.

Monuments to members of the Thornhill and Savile families are in Thornhill Parish Church. [7]

Industrial Revolution

Thornhill has close ties to coal mining. The demand for coal increased due to the development of the steam engine. The local population increased as more workers were recruited for the mines. In 1893 a mining disaster at Combs Pit killed 139 coal miners. Thornhill Colliery resulted from the merging of Inghams and Combs Collieries in 1948 but closed in 1971.


Historically Thornhill (St. Michael) was a large ecclesiastical parish in the wapentake of Agbrigg, West Riding of Yorkshire which joined the Dewsbury Poor Law Union in 1837. In 1894 it was an urban district and in 1910 it was incorporated into Dewsbury County Borough. [8]


Thornhill is situated on a hill on the south side of the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The township covered 2,486 acres (10.06 km2) and the underlying rock comprises coal measures. Thornhill encompasses the areas of Thornhill Edge, Overthorpe and Fox Royd overlooking the valleys of the Howroyd Beck and Smithy Brook. [2]


The Thornhill area has two junior schools: Overthorpe (C of E) Junior and Infants and Thornhill Junior and Infants School. Thornhill Community Academy is the area's secondary school, with a GCSE pass rate of 84% in 2010, an increase of 22 percentage points from 2009. Recently the school has undergone various modifications, and is now a Science College. Much of the school has been refurbished and modernised. Construction of a new sports hall was completed in April 2007 and includes a new Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).


Thornhill has several public houses. The small Black Horse is in the south. The Scarborough is a medium-sized traditional public house on the edge of Frank Lane. The Flatt Top is a small public house on the corner of Albion Road that serves traditionally-brewed local ales. Next to the church is the Savile Arms, which serves a range of traditionally-brewed real ales and regular guest ales. The Alma is closed and was the north of Thornhill. There are also several working men's clubs.


Thornhill is home to the Thornhill Trojans [9] a rugby league team who are currently in the National Conference League Premier Division. [10] The area also boasts several football teams Overthorpe Sports who play in the West Riding County Amateur League (Premier Division) on Saturdays and Overthorpe Town who play in the Heavy Woollen Sunday League (First Division).

The club has recently been awarded FA Charter Standard status as an adult club and has ambitious plans to increase participation in the game in the next three years. Thornhill United is located at rectory park. There are several rugby league youth teams. The Thornhill rugby club, located in Overthorpe Park, houses the changing rooms for the local rugby and football teams.

Community facilities open to the public include a football pitch, rugby pitch and basketball court, a mini rugby pitch frequently used by the rugby club itself for the under tens junior team and the new sports hall, with the Multi-Use Games Area located at the local secondary school (the Community Science College at Thornhill).

Thornhill is home to the Savile Bowmen, an archery club that shoots at Thornhill Cricket and Bowls Club. [11] Three tennis courts are situated next to Thornhill Cricket and Bowls Club. This is home to Thornhill Tennis Club which currently have two teams in the Huddersfield and District Tennis League.


There are a number of local shops and off-licences in Thornhill and numerous takeaways ranging from traditional English to Italian cuisine. The nearest large supermarkets are in Dewsbury, which is connected by public transport. The area has two post offices with limited services. Overthorpe Post Office has recently undergone building work and is now part of the Onestop franchise. Other shops and services include a florist, dental surgery, beauty salon, a computer repair shop, a tattoo studio, a fish and chip shop and a couple of Indian takeaways.

Survey of English Dialects site

The area was also covered by the Survey of English Dialects owing to the belief that it was a hotbed of Yorkshire dialect. [12] A 2005 study compared the 1964 Thornhill recording with a recording from nearby Ossett in 1999. [13]

Church protests

St. Michael and all Angels St Michael and All Angels, Thornhill 2 (4172381068).jpg
St. Michael and all Angels

In 2014 there were protests after items were removed from gravestones at Thornhill Parish Church, under the orders of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. [14]

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

West Yorkshire County of England

West Yorkshire is a metropolitan and ceremonial county in England. It is an inland and, in relative terms, upland county having eastward-draining valleys while taking in the moors of the Pennines. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972 and has a population of 2.3 million.

Batley Town in West Yorkshire, England

Batley is a historic market and mill town in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. The town forms a built up area of Kirklees with Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Birstall and Batley Carr. Batley lies south-west of Leeds, north-west of Wakefield, south-east of Bradford and north-east of Huddersfield. Batley forms part of the Heavy Woollen District.

Dewsbury Town in West Yorkshire, England

Dewsbury is a large minster town within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Calder and an arm of the Calder and Hebble Navigation waterway. It is to the west of Wakefield, east of Huddersfield and south of Leeds.

Elland Town in West Yorkshire, England

Elland is a market town in Calderdale, in the county of West Yorkshire, England. It is situated south of Halifax, by the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Elland was recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book. It had a population in 2001 of 14,554, with the ward being measured at 11,676 in the 2011 Census.

West Bretton Village and civil parish in West Yorkshire, England

West Bretton is a village and civil parish in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. It lies 7 miles (11 km) from Wakefield, 8 miles (13 km) from Barnsley, 9 miles (14 km) from Dewsbury, and 11 miles (18 km) from Huddersfield, close to junction 38 of the M1 motorway. It has a population of 546, reducing to 459 at the 2011 Census.

Wakefield City in West Yorkshire, England

Wakefield is a cathedral city in the City of Wakefield district of West Yorkshire, England. The city is on the River Calder and the Pennines eastern edge.

Mirfield Town and civil parish in West Yorkshire, England

Mirfield is a town and civil parish in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is on the A644 road between Brighouse and Dewsbury. At the 2011 census it had a population of 19,563. Mirfield forms part of the Heavy Woollen District.

Ossett Town in West Yorkshire, England

Ossett is a market town within the City of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is halfway between Dewsbury, to the west, and Wakefield, to the east. At the 2011 Census, the population was 21,231. Ossett forms part of the Heavy Woollen District.

Horbury Town in West Yorkshire, England

Horbury is a town in the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England and part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is situated north of the River Calder about three miles (5 km) south west of Wakefield and two miles (3 km) to the south of Ossett. It includes the outlying areas of Horbury Bridge and Horbury Junction. At the 2001 census the Horbury and South Ossett ward of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council had a population of 10,002. At the 2011 census the population was 15,032. Old industries include woollens, engineering and building wagons for the railways. Horbury forms part of the Heavy Woollen District.

Methley Village in West Yorkshire, England

Methley is a dispersed village in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, south east of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It is located near Rothwell, Oulton, Woodlesford, Mickletown and Allerton Bywater. The Leeds City Ward is called Kippax and Methley. It is within the triangle formed by Leeds, Castleford and Wakefield, and between the confluence of the River Aire and River Calder. The latter is crossed by Methley Bridge, the A639 road, about a mile south-east of the village.

Dewsbury Rams English Professional Rugby League club

The Dewsbury Rams are a professional English rugby league club based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire that compete in the Championship. They play their home games at the Tetley's Stadium, on Owl Lane. The Rams' main fanbase comes from their hometown of Dewsbury, but they also hold a strong following in Shaw Cross as well as in neighbouring Gawthorpe and Ossett, among other places. Prior to the 1997 season, the club was known as Dewsbury R.L.F.C.

Netherton, Wakefield Human settlement in England

Netherton is a village in the City of Wakefield metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, England. It lies about 4 miles south-west of Wakefield, 3 miles south of Ossett, 1 mile south of Horbury. The village is in the Wakefield Rural ward of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. The village name is shown on map "Dvcatvs Eboracensis pars occidentalis" from 1646.

Agbrigg and Morley Wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire, England

Agbrigg and Morley was a wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The main purpose of the wapentake was the administration of justice by a local court. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, Agbrigg and Morley were separate wapentakes. For example, Methley was in Agbrigg while Rothwell was in Morley. The wapentakes were probably combined by the 13th century when similar administrative reforms occurred elsewhere in England. It was kept in two divisions, which in the mid-nineteenth century again became wapentakes in their own right.

Emley, West Yorkshire Village in West Yorkshire, England

Emley is a village in West Yorkshire, England between Huddersfield and Wakefield with a population of 1,509. It is 6.4 miles (10 km) east of Huddersfield and 7.1 miles (11 km) west of Wakefield. The village dates from Anglo-Saxon times and is on high ground, close to the Emley Moor transmitting station.

Savile Town

Savile Town is a suburb of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England, lying just to the south of the River Calder and just north of a railway line.

Halifax, West Yorkshire Minster town in West Yorkshire, England

Halifax is a large minster town in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. In the 15th century, the town became an economic hub of the old West Riding of Yorkshire, primarily in woollen manufacture. Halifax is also the largest town in the wider Calderdale borough. Halifax was also a mill town during the industrial revolution.

Thornhill Hall is a ruined medieval manor house on a moated island located in Rectory Park, Thornhill, West Yorkshire, England. The ruins are listed as grade II. and the moat, with the surrounding grounds, is a scheduled monument.

Dennis Trotter was an English professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s and 1980s. He played at club level for Bradford Northern, as a second-row, i.e. number 11 or 12.

Dewsbury is a town and an unparished area in the metropolitan borough of Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. It contains 127 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. Of these, two are listed at Grade I, the highest of the three grades, two are at Grade II*, the middle grade, and the others are at Grade II, the lowest grade. The list consists of the listed buildings in the town and the countryside to the south, and includes the districts, villages and smaller settlements of Boothroyd, Briestfield, Hanging Heaton, Overthorpe, Ravensthorpe, Thornhill, and Whitley Lower.


  1. Open Domesday Online: Thornhill (Yorkshire)
  2. 1 2 Lewis, Samuel (1848), "Thornhill St Michael", A Topographical Dictionary of England, British History Online, pp. 335–337, retrieved 10 October 2010
  3. Will of Sir John Savile, J. W. Clay, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 1920
  4. B. Nuttall, A History of Thornhill, 1970.
  5. Historic England. "RUINS OF THE MEDIEVAL THORNHILL HALL IN MOATED ENCLOSURE, IN RECTORY GROUNDS  (Grade II) (1134729)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. Thornhill CP/AP, Vision of Britain , retrieved 3 July 2018
  7. "Protests continue against church which removed graveside mementoes". Bately and Birstall News. 16 August 2014. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018.