Leeds nostalgia: Birstall’s Oakwell Hall was built partly from demolished vicarage

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In an article in The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on Friday March 22, 1929, this letter appeared recounting the history of Birstall’s historic Oakwell Hall.

Entitled, ‘The Future of Oakwell Hall’, it began: “Not very long ago Oakwell Hall at Birstall, the of Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, was bought for the public by two well-known Yorkshiremen Sir M Nonman and Mr J E Sharman.

“The two donors spent unstintingly in restoring this fine Elizabethan manor house and grounds as nearly as possible to their original state, and they intended that they should be at all times open to the public.

“Unhappily, they both died before the legal transfer had been effected. I understand, however that the executors are now prepared to convey the property to the Birstall Urban District Council, to be held in trust by them, as guardians, under the Ancient Monuments Act.

“It will provided that the Hall shall be maintained as specimen of a Yorkshire manor house the 16th century, containing period furniture and other articles showing the Hall’s historical and literary associations. public meetings, other than literary lectures appro-dramatic performances, and to be eld therein, and administrative committee is be appointed.

The public arc to be given reasonable access, and, if necessary, small admission fee may be charged, the money to go towards maintenance, which, otherwise, will be borne by the District Council.”

In a separate article in the YEP on January 6, 1928, talks about two women from America, who gave their names as “the Misses Field, of Virginia”, who greatly admired the hall and bought up every postcard they could with a picture on it, before donating $150 to the preservation fund. Both women claimed to be related to Henry Batt and his son John, who is understood to have “pulled down Birstall Vicarage” and used some of the materials to build the hall.