Know Your Area Walk — Austwick (continued)

6 August 2008
Leader - Sylvia Harrop
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

As readers of last year’s Journal with long memories will recall, this walk had to be abandoned in 2007 after an hour because of the weather. This is the continuation of that walk.

We started at the church. It is possible that this is the second church in the village. The ancient parish church is at Clapham, but evidence appears to show that there was a chapel-of-ease in Austwick in the Middle Ages. The village certainly had its own minister for a time in the seventeenth century, but after 1651 people had to go to Clapham for church services for the next 200 years. The present building dates from 1839 and has a rare dedication to the Epiphany (the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi), which is the subject of the three windows at the east end of the church. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon on 13 October 1841. The original chapel was a rectangle, and there was a gallery for musicians on the west wall, which was removed in the 1870s. Austwick became an independent parish in 1879, and the church was then extended and better furnished. The chancel was added in 1883, as were the stone pulpit and the rose window at the west end. There are numerous reminders in the church of the Ingleby family of Lawkland Hall (distant cousins of the main branch of the family at Ripley Castle), who were generous benefactors from its foundation. In 1842 Charles Ingleby gave the Vicarage, just down the road to Clapham, as a residence for the incumbent, and he also gave the pillar on the market cross outside the church, the steps of which are reputedly fifteenth century. Nearby, on the triangle, there is an old West Riding signpost.

Turning up the high street, aptly named, the site of the village pinfold was immediately on our left, behind the bus shelter. Up the high street, what has always been known as The Cuddy (now renamed Backfold) is a fine (though small) house, built with small coursed stones and with a splendid door head, dated 1715. This and the next house to the right, Garden Cottage, were originally one. We walked down to the village green, with its pub, chapel, smithy and old houses. The pub, now The Gamecock, was formerly just The Cock Inn, and the annual Manor Court was held there. ‘Woodview’ was also formerly an inn, The George and Dragon. Its adjacent barn and other small outbuildings are on the left of the building - now converted into a house. The remains of an arch on the front of the houses on the east side of the green showed that they had been converted from a barn. The house on the left was one of Austwick’s many shops - a grocer’s.

We then walked down Low Street to where the first Methodist (Wesleyan) chapel in the village, built here in 1823, partly survives as Chapel House. This chapel became too inconvenient for the congregation, so it was sold and a new chapel built on the Green and opened in 1901. Chapel House became a draper’s shop. Turning back up towards the Green, and passing the Joiner’s Shop, we came to the row of cottages dating to the seventeenth century and among the oldest remaining buildings in the village. We were able to go round the back of Low House to see the original oak door. The Smithy was the village farriers, then more recently an ornamental blacksmiths which closed in the early 1990s. Next door to the Smithy is the former (second) Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, whose foundation stones still survive at the front of the building. Closed in 1998, the chapel became a private dwelling. It is notable for its red roof, one of very few in this part of the Dales. We concluded our tour of the Green by looking at what has been claimed to be a spinning balcony behind Brook House, but there is some scepticism about this claim. Certainly, spinning and weaving went on in the village, both by hand and machine. The name ‘The Weaving Shed’ on a building just off the Green is testament to this activity. Ivy Cottage, opposite Brook House, formerly housed the village post office, which was run from the right-hand front room. The door that was put in is still there.

By now the light was fading, but some hardy members of the group still wanted to go and look at the site of a settlement marked on the OS map at SD 757686, off the field path to Clapham. On the footpath we walked along strip lynchets - certainly early medieval, and possibly dating back to Romano-British period - until we reached the settlement, thought to be of a mid Romano-British date - around the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD. We could just make out evidence of enclosures, one of them with a semi-circular end, and other interesting features, before darkness overtook us and we walked back to the centre of the village.