Wood Lane Hall
Wood Lane Hall is a Grade 1 listed building and was built in 1649 by John Dearden a yeoman clothier. The original timber framed house was encased in stone and enlarged, with the addition of a two storey porch which had an "apple and pear" window identical to the window at New Hall Elland. Above the sundial is the date 1651, the outside of the house also has numerous gargoyles on the gutter spouts, spindly finial's on the battlements and carvings around the windows. There were also a few cottages facing the Hall, where the front lawn is now.
It is said that there was a passage from the Wood Lane Hall to St Peter's Church in Sowerby village, but this has never been substantiated.
The Deardens were very prone to providing lavish entertainment on the death of a loved one once the actual burial rites were concluded. This practice was indulged through several generations.
When Michael Dearden (son of John) died in 1672, at the age of twenty six, the ceremony and pomp were given the full treatment. Nearly three hundred guests were invited to the funeral and to the following wake, the majority being Sowerby district residents, the rest having travelled from afar. John himself died a number of years later and a similar feast ensued. It is also said by Oliver Heywood the local vicar, after he had recorded the death of Joshua Dearden (John's eldest son) aged 36 that he "prejudiced himself with brandy", and of John he wrote "Buried September 13, aged sixty six, rich."
The funeral feast for Joshua was a lavish affair, along with a leg, a loin, and a shoulder of mutton, two quarters of lamb, two crops of beef, a leg of veal plus all the good dishes to go with them, 26lbs of biscuits, four great cakes, and an abundance of pasties and tarts, with fourteen gallons of fine wines to round off their refreshments. H.P. Kendal (the local historian) said of the Deardens that they conducted the last rites of their dead with much pomp and ceremony..
In the early twentieth century the large house was divided into three dwellings, a large house with it's door facing west, was the main one which was occupied by the farmer who carried on the with farming side of the business, and two cottages on the eastern side, one with access through the main porch and the other through a door on the extreme left of the front of the building. At that time the main hall had been boarded over to provide extra accommodation upstairs and, so I was told, all the paneling from downstairs was disposed of.
In 1949 the house was purchased by the Sugden family, three sisters and a brother, who owned a brass foundry in Halifax. After purchasing the property they began the slow process of bringing the building back into it's previous state, opening up the main hall, seeking and replacing the paneling the balustrade / minstrel gallery and most of the other original features, installing a full size billiard table in the what was the dining room.
It was pointed out that in the lounge overlooking the valley there were a pair of Georgian sash windows and it could be clearly seen the marks made in the glass from when the original panes were poured.
The family were great travelers doing a lot of cargo ship cruising and it was on the instigation of the brother that he had an inside bedroom (with no windows) constructed to replicate a liner's first class cabin, complete with stewards bell, one ring for the steward and two for the stewardess there was also a lifejacket.
On the whole the occupancy over three hundred years of the halls existence is a bit of a mystery, but no doubt all could be revealed if investigated fully. It would also have been nice to see the original building.
For the location please see the main village photograph
By John Kerridge