Marking north Leeds hall’s notable history

Chapel Allerton Hall blue plaque unveiling. Left to right: Lynda Kitching, Chair of Leeds Civic Trust; Councillor Judith Chapman, Lord Mayor of Leeds; and Christine Osborne, Chair of Gledhow Valley Conservation Area Group.
Chapel Allerton Hall blue plaque unveiling. Left to right: Lynda Kitching, Chair of Leeds Civic Trust; Councillor Judith Chapman, Lord Mayor of Leeds; and Christine Osborne, Chair of Gledhow Valley Conservation Area Group.
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Heritage leaders have unveiled a blue plaque at Chapel Allerton Hall to commemorate the its extensive history and notable past owners.

The hall, at the junction of King George Avenue and Gledhow Lane, was one of the many impressive mansions built to allow wealthy cloth merchant families the chance to leave the crowded banks of the River Aire for homes in the open countryside.

The earliest recording of Chapel Allerton Hall is 1672 when woollen cloth merchant Samuel Tottie paid hearth tax for the hall.

It later passed Richard Tottie, his second cousin, in 1743 and then William Tottie, another merchant, in 1755.

The hall was put for sale in 1781, when The Leeds Mercury ran a piece which stated: “To be sold situate Chapel Allerton and Potternewton, a capital Mansion with gardens, stables, coach house and about 37 acres in the possession of Mr. Tottie and William Dixon.’ It commented that Chapel Allerton was “one of the pleasantest villages in that part of the Country and much resorted to by many families on that account and the goodness of the air”.

Distinguished botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury snapped it up in 1782 and he housed an extensive collection of rare and exotic plants in its glasshouses. He went on to become the first honorary secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society - a post he held for 11 years.

Thomas Nicholson was the next owner, in 1799. The wealthy insurance broker also bought nearby Roundhay Park which he developed into the presnt-day Roundhay Park Mansion before he died in 1821.

It was then owned by John Barran, a philanthropist who helped buy Roundhay Park for the people of Leeds, who lived there from 1845 to 1901.

He was the famous founder of Leeds’ ready-made clothing industry, with a warehouse and factory on Park Square. He was also a city councillor and twice Mayor of Leeds and an MP from 1876-1885. He was the driving force behind the Boar Lane improvement scheme - which created Boar Lane as it looks today.

And he led the bid to buy Roundhay Park for the city - remortgaging Chapel Allerton Hall estate to help buy the park and securing its grounds for the citizens of Leeds.

Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: “This plaque takes us right back to the days when the elite of Leeds lived in fine villas and mansion houses surrounded by ‘little landscapes’ in the leafy rural villages and suburbs of north Leeds. Chapel Allerton Hall is not outstanding architecturally, though its Georgian stable block is very impressive, but the families associated with it —the Totties, the Nicholsons and the Barrans - are some of the most famous names in Leeds’ history.”

The plaque was sponsored by the Gledhow Valley Conservation Area Group.

Chairwoman Christine Osborne, said: “Gledhow Valley is a wonderful historic area in the Leeds suburbs. It is a green oasis with many surviving characterful mansions and villas, York stone ginnels and garden walls created in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was the secluded retreat of the wealthy Leeds elite families. The members of Gledhow Valley Conservation Area Group feel privileged to live here and work very hard to share our knowledge of the history of the area with the public and to conserve its precious character. We are delighted to have a blue plaque for Chapel Allerton Hall, it complements the heritage boards we have erected in the area.”

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