Standing high on a hill above the Calder Valley, the small Yorkshire village of Heptonstall began life as a centre for hand weaving during the medieval period.

Heptonstall Cobbled Main Street

Heptonstall © David Benney

Located in the heart of the Pennines, this dark millstone grit village thrived long before the water and steam-driven mills took over in the neighbouring town of Hebden Bridge.

The old trade route still leads down to Hebden Water, where is crosses the ancient pack-horse bridge from which the lower town took its name.

The history of the village can be traced in the old weavers' cottages lining its steep cobbled streets. Where, terrace on terrace of workers' cottages rise up from the valley, with a foreman's house at the end of each row. The 17th-c grammar school is now a small museum of village life and a community hub. The old town pump and a set of wooden stocks can be found set in a recess near the school.

Heptonstall Graveyard
Ruins of St Thomas Church © TAB

Tucked behind the cobbled main street is the shell of a 13/15th-c church, which was irreparably damaged in the great storm of 1847. The graveyard contains over 10,000 bodies, many of which succumbed to the great plague of 1631. One famous grave is that of a notorious 18th-c coin forger, 'King' David Hartley, of nearby Cragg Vale. The poet and novelist Sylvia Plath is also laid to rest here.

The old ruined Chapel of Thomas Becket has now been replaced by a modern successor dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle.

On Northgate, overlooking the Calder Valley, stands a rare octangular Methodist Chapel. Said to be the oldest Methodist church still in continuous use. John Wesley himself laid its foundation stone in 1764.

Heptonstall Methodist Church
Heptonstall Methodist Church © Travel About Britain

Just a mile or so to the north of Heptonstall is the National Trust's beauty spot of Hardcastle Crags, where the Hebden Water flows down through a picturesque narrow valley.

Map of Heptonstall

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