Sutcliffe House and The Bell Inn, Giggleswick

Andrew Davidson
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

I was born on Sandholme Drive just over the river bridge in Giggleswick in 1959. After moving to Galashiels in Scotland the family arrived back in Giggleswick, via Austwick and Eldroth, in 1966 on Stackhouse Lane, next to Mr Richard Moore and Elsie Moore. Most evenings I would bike into the village for a kick-about on the playing fields or a game of tag or ‘ready or not’ using the village cross as the home base. As I passed the big walled house at the top of Belle Hill on my bike, I often used to wonder what was behind the wall, gate, ivy and the manor-like frontage (Figure 1). There was an air of mystery about the place. As kids our inquisitiveness sometimes got the better of us as we, now and again, raided the apple orchard for delicious local fruit. I have to say not to be bettered anywhere! Fast forward from the 60s and 70s to the present day and I now have to pinch myself that the young boy on the bike is now the proud owner of the ‘house behind the wall’.

With an interest in local history, I quickly started to look back in time at the development of the property, its evolution and its ownership. It was obvious to me that the property had the potential to tell a story and after reading Julian Leakey’s notes, in the sale brochure, I started delving. What became clear, as I started to look at the evidence, was the fact that the story of Sutcliffe House was a two-layered affair. On the one hand is the evolution and history of the building and property itself, and on the other its chronological ownership. Both are obviously intertwined, but for study purposes need separating. For those interested in local history the ownership of Sutcliffe House throws up some fascinating findings. These show that there have been very few owners, a local well-established story has been well and truly shown to be not true, and the dated headstone above the ‘front door’ is not what it seems to be.

The building has a frontage on Belle Hill which has been later extended at the north end, and behind the front there is an adjoining building at right angles with a very large kitchen/parlour with a segmental-arched ‘inglenook’ fireplace, barn, stables and other outbuildings with an upper floor for accommodation. There is a well in the yard. It should be thought of as two buildings with different purposes, an inn and a house.

Records of the Lords of the Manor of Giggleswick

These important papers dating from 1499 show the rentals of properties held in Giggleswick and the gressums (entry fines) paid on transfer of tenantry. These papers are held by the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society in the Special Collections of the Brotherton Library of Leeds University (DD121 series) on loan from the Fattorini family of Skipton castle. Erection of houses needed permission of the lord of the manor who received the rents. There were obligations on both sides, but ownership was not freehold in the modern sense. If a house was improved or extended by the tenant occupier at his own cost, the lord through the manor court could increase the rent accordingly. In later years lords of the manor were to sell property to tenants who then became ‘free tenants’.

Giggleswick manor was part of an enclave known as the Percy Fee, the Earl of Northumberland being lord of the manor. In the 1530s the Cliffords became manorial lords as Earls of Cumberland. In 1499 Richard Claphamson is listed as a tenant-at-will (subject to service to the lord) [1]. The rent survey of 1572 in the Clifford family archive [2] states that:

‘Hugh Claphamson holds by the lord’s warrant dated 13th July 11 Elizabeth (1569) for the term of his life etc. One messuage or inn called The Bell in the same place and all the buildings belonging to the same. And it yields per annum at the feast aforesaid 6s. Gressum £8 whereof paid half £4 and he owes £4 to be paid at Martinmas next coming. For which he has paid to William Ferrand (the steward) 50s. And he owes 30s.’

In the manor court verdict of 1579 Hugh Claphamson has ‘one messuage, one barn, one stable, one new house, with other houses, one garden, one halfe oxgang of land by estimation 7 acres, one close 6 roods, one other close 6 roods, the yearly rent of all 19s’ [3].

In 1583 ‘Hugh Claphamson haithe taken of the said Commissioners one messuage or Inn called the signe of the Bell ... rent 6s. Also one howse covered with slate laytlie erected and buylded neire unto the said messuage on the northe parte of the heighe way leading from thence unto Settle and one garden ... rent 8d ... Broadhead ... rent 4d ...’. To preserve his title he presented the document to the manor court in the following year on 14 May 1584 [3] which records that ‘To the same court comes Hugh Claphamson and shows the Lord’s warrant for one messuage or le Inne called the sign of the Bell, with the appurtenances appertaining to the same messuage or inn, in the tenure of the said Hugh, at an annual rent of 6s, One house, to be tiled in slate, lately erected by the foresaid messuage on the northern side of the common way there leading to Settle, One garden in the same place at an annual rent of 8d ... One close at Broadhead rent 4d.’. Further records state in 1602/3 ‘Hugh Claphamson for a messuage called the Bell and 6s for a house and garden 8d ... total 19s 4½d’ [4]; in 1613 Robert Claphamson pays 19s 4½d rent inheriting the same property [5] since Hugh died in 1603 and son Robert was baptised in 1568/9. This information indicates that the family tree for Hugh (bd 1603) is correct.

In 1621 the ‘Inn called the sign of the Bell’ [6] is noted as being held by Indenture dated 1604 by Robert Claphamson, ancient rent of 6s. All these premises were in the occupation of Jane Claphamson, mother of Robert, rent 19s 4½d. In 1632 the ‘Bell Inn’ is noted in an assignment with land on the Mains and Broadhead from Robert Claphamson of Giggleswick Gentleman to Henry his brother and Mary, Henry’s wife [7].

Later documents and the datestone initials over the front door reinforce the association of Sutcliffe House with Claphamsons and hence The Bell Inn. The further search for information then concerned this family.

The name The Bell or The Bell Inn was common for alehouses and inns and the name Bell was interchangeable with Belle. Belle Hill was presumably then so-called because the inn sat at the top of the hill at the end of the village. In earlier times the innkeeper would ring a bell to let people know that a new brew was ready for customers. (Information courtesy David Johnson). There is no record of tenancy or ownership in the licensing records in the West Yorkshire Archive Service catalogue.

In 1497 the small arched stone bridge over the Ribble joined Settle and Giggleswick and made crossing the Ribble a much easier proposition. The alternative was Kendalman’s Ford used by horsemen and packhorse trains. This avoided the climb up and down Belle Hill and any bridge tolls. Brayshaw [8] notes that the Ingilby map of 1675 says ‘(going on the road from Settle)... At the end whereof over a Stone Bridg you enter Giggleswick, ... Leaving Giggleswick you ascend an Hill of 8 Furlongs’.

Other Giggleswick Manorial Court records

The manor court records are available from 1579 to 1598 [3]. They have been checked for the name Claphamson. Hugh’s name appears from 1579 to 1598, Richard’s from 1579 to 1590, Henry’s from 1583 to 1598 and the widow of Thomas from 1579 to 1598 - all tenants-at-will, as distinct from free tenants. The most important records are for 1572, 1583 and 1584 already quoted, naming the Bell Inn. While most of the references are for misdemeanors such as debt and trespass, with small fines, in 1597 one finds the case of Thomas Brayshey against Hugh Claphamson - a debt of 5s for a mode (a measure) of malt, as used in brewing. Although many might brew their own ale, there are few other mentions of malt concerning other people — in 1579 one case, in 1582 one case, in 1583 two cases.

The name of Richard Claphamson occurs commonly, notably ‘Richard Claphamson of Giggleswick complains of William Wilson of the same in a plea of trespass because he, through Reginald Wilson his son, mistreated Richard Claphamson his son, that is to say, did shote hym into the head with a shaft’. But ‘Robert Crak of Gigglewick complains against Richard Claphamson of the same in a plea of debt of 6s 8d which he promised to pay for the care of a head wound of Richard Claphamson his son. We fynde the defendant giltie in 5s to the use of Robert Creake and the defendant.’ (3rd November 22 Elizabeth (1580)). A sign of occasional lawlessness in Giggleswick! Robert Crake and Henry Claphamson also seem to have been at odds in 1583 (24th April 1583).

The Claphamson family trees

The Claphamson name first enters documents in 1499 when Richard pays for one messuage 12s 8d, one bovate (oxgang) of land and 12 parts of the demesne 7s 4½d, total 20s½d [1]. The Giggleswick parish register might reasonably allow one to assume that a later Richard, maybe a son, had a son Thomas baptised in 1566 and daughter Margaret baptised in 1564. Another Thomas who married Katherine (bd1587) was buried in 1574/5 and left a will. He had sons Hugh baptised in 1564, Richard and Henry. He had a farmhold but there is no hint of having an inn. Son Hugh is probably the one whose wife, Elizabeth, was buried in 1603.

Another Hugh Claphamson married Jane Knowles in 1568 and he is probably the most relevant person of interest (see the family tree). But he cannot yet be linked to Richard noted in 1499 — perhaps the Claphamsons originated in Clapham parish rather than Giggleswick. This Hugh Claphamson died in 1603 leaving sons Robert, Thomas and Henry. It is probably this Hugh who appears in so many 16th century records associated with The Bell Inn. Thomas became a curate. A grandson Henry (bp 1599, bd 1642) was a schoolmaster. Land called the Lords Wood and Farr Maines are mentioned in Hugh’s will but not an inn. Eventually a later son Henry in this family line, buried in 1731/2, married Isabell Wiglesworth (Mrs Isabel Claphamson of Giggleswick buried 1741). He was a solicitor in Leeds and as discussed below is probably the man who was responsible for the datestone C HI 1693. Hence the later involvement of the Wiglesworth family.

With the Claphamson family operating the Inn, ‘The Sign of the Bell’, through the 16th and 17th centuries, logic suggests that with the opening up of trade via Settle Bridge, they were keen to take advantage of pulling in trade before it trundled down Belle Hill passing the ‘Heirtshead’. The property we know today as Sutcliffe House was ‘The Sign of the Bell’. The Hartshead was originally on the corner at the bottom of Belle Hill where Dr Buck lived in the 20th century (now Cravendale, [8, p.180]). The road from Settle to Giggleswick from the bridge to the top of Belle Hill was widened in 1755. The main road was re-aligned to by-pass Giggleswick up Buckhaw Brow. The owner of the Harts Head at the bottom of Belle Hill then closed it as an inn and built new premises besides the new road [8, p.180].

Tax records

The name Claphamson does not appear in the 1377 or 1379 [9] poll tax lists. There is no listing in the Clifford Muster of 1510/11. The first mention is in the 1522 Loan Book under Villa de Gygglyswek — John Claphamson [10]. There are no mentions in the Lay Subsidies of 1524 and 1525 [11]. The numerous other tax records for Giggleswick have not been checked. This would be a substantial task, probably unrewarding. It is the several Hearth taxes which help substantially to indicate the size of The Bell Inn, although not mentioned by name.

The Hearth tax of 1664 shows Mrs Thomasin Claphamson with 5 hearths, indicating a large property. All we know of her is that she died in 1678/9 in Giggleswick (Parish Register). In 1671 Thomas Claphamson paid for 4 hearths (old assessment) and on 5 hearths (new assessment) [12]. In 1672 Mr Thomas Claphamson paid for 5 hearths and Hugh Claphamson paid for 2 hearths and 1 hearth separately. It is not known how these two were related.

The Hearth Tax of 1672 shows that what is to-day one property was two separate living dwellings, Thomas living in the property fronting Belle Hill and Hugh living in the property overlooking Giggleswick village. Counting the hearths today the numbers remain the same in both buildings! Sleeping accommodation for the inn is thought to have been in the upper storey of what is now the barn, and above the stables. No window tax returns (levied after 1696) are known for Giggleswick.

The dated doorhead

Brayshaw, Mitchell and other local historians have stated that the dated door head above the front entrance off Belle Hill refers to Hugh Stackhouse. Julian Leakey told me a story that in the 1970s a family from Australia doing some genealogy work on the Stackhouse family visited the house based on the statements given in various books including Brayshaw’s History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick [8]. Brayshaw states, incorrectly, that ‘the long low house with mullioned windows on the top of Belle Hill bears the date 1693 and the initials S HI which we can have little doubt in attributing to Hugh Stackhouse of Giggleswick. The records of the court leet of Giggleswick for the year 1647 prove that an earlier Hugh Stackhouse occupied this house — at the end of the town. Here were held many of the parish meetings in Commonwealth days’. The Giggleswick manorial court records for 1647 are held at Chatsworth House (L/45/27, 1610-1673) and have not been checked, but Brayshaw’s statement is not thought to refer to the Bell Inn but to the original Harts Head.

In researching the ownership of Sutcliffe House the Stackhouse name is never mentioned and there is absolutely no evidence of the Stackhouses living in or owning the Sutcliffe House property. The presumption comes from a statement (not yet sourced) about a ‘Mr Stackhouse keeper of the Inn at the far end of the village’. Brayshaw presumed that this relates to The Sign of the Belle, when in fact the keepers of the ‘Heirtshead’ at the bottom of Belle Hill were the Stackhouse family during the 16th and 17th centuries. This confusion between Stackhouse and Claphamson is clarified because in 1564 (reported in 1572) we see that ‘Hugh Stackhouse, the son of Robert, inn with garden and appurtenances ... called Heithead’. And ‘Hugh Stackhouse holds one mansion house called the Harts Head with a barn, stables, yard, garden ... in Giggleswick’ [2, 13]. A later Hugh Stackhouse paid Hearth Tax on 5 hearths in 1664 and on 6 in 1672, indicating a large property, i.e. the Harts Head. It does not help that Christian names Hugh and Robert were much used in both the Claphamson and Stackhouse families.

When a finger is run over the carved letters and numbers of the dated lintel on the Belle Hill side of Sutcliffe House (Figure 2), it is clear that it reads:




with C, not S for Stackhouse as Brayshaw states. This fits with the ownership of the time and in all probability refers to Henry and Isabell Claphamson 1693, this being the date of the start (or completion) of the renovation of the property facing Belle Hill. It seems likely that at this time Henry was free of any feudal ties or control by the manor court. The Giggleswick parish register records Hugh Stackhouse of Giggleswick buried in 1691/2 and Isabella Stackhouse wife of Hugh of Giggleswick in 1679. They were therefore both deceased by 1693 so there is no possibility of them building or modifying the house. Mrs Isabel Claphamson of Giggleswick is registered as buried in 1741 and Henry of Giggleswick in 1731/2.

Later occupiers and owners

The Claphamsons kept the property within the family until about 1730. In the past 400 years or so there have only been 6 families who have certainly owned or rented the property we know as Sutcliffe House - the Claphamsons, Wigglesworth, Lister, Carr, Clapham, Sutcliffe, Fido, Leakey and now Davidson.

Various deeds held in Wakefield Register Office help to establish the occupiers of the house in later years called Bell or The Bell. As with all these deeds it is not always clear whether the deed records a sale, a lease or a mortgage or some other transaction. One cannot assume a simple freehold sale as the concept of freehold was not usual at that time. Feudal tenure and its accompanying burdens had been abolished by the late 1600s. A legal device known as Lease and Release then gained favour. By 1845 this system also was abolished. It seems likely that after the Claphamson transfer to Mabel Lister in 1724 and 1730, possession did leave the Claphamson family for good. The probable existence of two separate houses complicates the understanding of these arrangements. Starting with Henry and Isabell Claphamson in 1693 it was agreed that their eldest son, John (vicar of Giggleswick 1719-1730), be part owner of a messuage called The Bell in 1717 and 1718 [14,15]. In 1720 Henry and John [16] leased the house called Bell to William Wiglesworth [16]. (Remember that Henry had married Isabell Wiglesworth). Then in 1724 Mabell Lister (widow) took the lease and in 1738 William Carr and his wife Grace (no deed found) must have been the occupiers when they transferred it to Anthony Lister, Gent. [17,18,19]. William Carr had married Grace Claphamson in 1705 so family ties seem to have persisted [20]. Anthony Lister held Belle Hill Farm in 1747 and it is notable that a piece of timber has been found in the barn with the inscription AL 1748 (Figure 3). In 1756 it was reported that the vicar, Anthony Lister, ‘had lived in a converted inn’ [21]. A deed of 1806 [22] quotes Anthony Lister of Bell Hill. In 1815 Anthony Lister transferred the Bell Hill messuage to John Clapham [23].

John Clapham transferred property to William Sutcliffe in 1825. William married Jane Wigglesworth. Anne Wigglesworth transferred property to her sister, now Jane Sutcliffe, in 1837. William Sutcliffe (1759-1840) was apprenticed to his father Abraham Sutcliffe by 1778 (the well-known apothecary in Settle) [24]. Presumably in this period the name changed from Bell Inn to Sutcliffe House. Anne Wigglesworth was probably related to Isabell Wigglesworth who married Henry Claphamson of the datestone so there was still a family connection. The Wigglesworths appear to have owned the property from 1886 to 1938.

There have been times when it has been two separate properties and at times more latterly when it has been one house. In 1583 it was notably a house in Giggleswick which was tiled in slate. It has been an inn, a farm and a boarding house. The property has also had name changes reflecting the socio-economic circumstances of the day: Ye Sign of the Bell, Belle House, The Belle, and Sutcliffe House. Bell Hill refers to a close of land not the messuage [25].


The availability of 16th century rental documents relating to the Percy Fee, manorial court records, wills and deeds has made it possible to determine the history of the property and its occupiers over a period of at least 400 years, a remarkable state of affairs.

It can be concluded that within the curtilage of Sutcliffe House was an inn called The Bell from at least 1569 and possibly earlier. In about 1579 a new slated-roof house was erected next to the inn. One building was renovated or rebuilt about 1693 but probably underwent changes before that time. The Claphamson occupiers were gentry as evidenced by the title Gentleman and having servants. Tenantry of the land at the Mains and Broadhead suggest that the inn was close by. The Claphamson family were resident to about 1724 when other families took ownership, substantiated with deeds.

As the total renovation of the property is now nearing completion is it time to go back in time and resurrect its old name? The problem is which one!


  1. 1499. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD 121/32/1
  2. 1572. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD121/31/5
  3. 1558 to 1598. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD121/15/10, Giggleswick court records partially translated from Latin. (see
  4. 1602/3. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD121/29/23
  5. 1613 Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD121/29/8
  6. Bolton Abbey MS260. See, Burlington miscellaneous manuscripts 1673-1758. and>data>gb2495-bu
  7. 1632. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, DD141/12/6
  8. Brayshaw, T. and Robinson, R.M., 1932. A history of the ancient parish of Giggleswick. Halton & Co., London.
  9. 1379. The National Archives, E179/206/49
  10. 1522. The National Archives, E179/206/116
  11. 1525. The National Archives, E179/207/139
  12. 1675. The National Archives, E179/210/399
  13. 1564/5. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, Bundle 67/21 Lease for 21 years by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Cumberland (evidently allowing a lease from the Earl to Hugh Claphamson in 1564/5)
  14. 1717. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, H609 767
  15. 1718. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, M305 420
  16. 1720. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, P646 836
  17. 1724. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, T264 358
  18. 1724. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, T266 361
  19. 1738. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, LL476 642
  20. Slater, M.J., 2003. Carrs in Langcliffe. NCHT Journal, pp.5-8
  21. Garnett, E., 1998. John Marsden’s Will: The Hornby Castle Dispute, 1780-1840. Hambledon Continuum¬†
  22. 1806. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, EX390 484
  23. 1815. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, GH 067 078
  24. Slater, M. and M., 2017. Surgeons, apothecaries and Man-mid-wives. NCHT Journal, pp.8-12
  25. 1757. W. Yorks. Archive Service, Register of Deeds, Wakefield, AN507 684

Family tree for Hugh Claphamson and his line

                               md 1568
     Hugh Claphamson (bd 1603) − Jane Knowles (bd 1615, vid. de G.)
       │                │              │                   │                │
     Robert          Margaret      Henry - Mary         Thomas+Ellena   Margareta
     (bp 1568/9)   (bp 1570)   (bp 1577)   (bp 1572)      (bp 1576)
                        │ 1615                            │
                     Henry − Maria Lambert              Ellena
           (bp 1599 bd 1642)    (bd 1605)
              (Schoolmaster, WILL of 1642)
       │        │        │         │       │
     John     Ellena  Robert     Jane     Hugh − 1. Grace (ux Hugh de Fairhill)
           (bp 1618) (bp 1621) (bp 1616)   │     2. Agnes (as in WILL of Hugh 1676)
                           │                       │
                       Cuthbert                   Henry  - Isabell Wiglesworth
                      (bd 1730/1)               (bd 1731/2)       (bd 1741)
                                           (Solicitor in Leeds, built house 1693)
                                           (Clerk, vicar of Giggleswick 1719-1730)


  • (see
  • Thomas Claphamson 1574 Borthwick vol. 19 fol. 704
  • Henry Claphamson 1642 Borthwick, Bundle March 1646/7 microfilm 1735
  • Henry Claphamson de Fairehill 1676 Borthwick vol. 57 fol. 200

Figure 1 Sutcliffe House
Figure 2 Claphamson Henry and Isabell 1693
Figure 3 Dated beam AL 1748 (Anthony Lister)

Figure 1 Sutcliffe House

Figure 2 Claphamson Henry and Isabell 1693

Figure 3 Dated beam AL 1748 (Anthony Lister)