West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
The Tudors in
of the Roses
Howley Hall is situated between Morley and Batley and was built in the late 1580s by Sir John Savile, who was later made Baron of Pontefract and became first mayor of Leeds. He was made MP for Yorkshire and became an influential figure at the court of James I. He was also one of the presiding magistrates in the trial of Sir Walter Calverley of Calverley Hall. Other members of the Savile family were also prominent landowners in the county, owning such properties as Lupset Hall and Thornhill Hall. The owl which forms a feature of the family coat of arms can also be seen as an element in the coats of arms of several West Yorkshire towns including Dewsbury and Leeds.
The house was the scene of a siege during the Civil War in 1643 prior to the Battle of Adwalton Moor. This action seems to have caused no lasting damage for the house was still occupied up to the death of Sir James Savile in 1671. After this the property seems to have gone into a decline, and in 1719 the stones of Howley Hall were being sold off for reuse in the building of the Old Presbyterian Chapel at Bradford. Howley Hall was finally demolished in 1730.
From its present ruined appearance it is difficult to appreciate the size and splendour of Howley Hall as it must once have been. The Hall was two stories high with battlements and towers at each corner. It was built around a courtyard plan and was approximately 60 yards (55m) square. It had extensive gardens, orchards and a bowling green the earthworks of which are still visible in places. Opinions are divided as to who designed Howley Hall. Some historians believe that it may have been the great Elizabethan architect, Robert Smythson. Others believe that the Hall was the work of a local man, Abraham Ackroyd.
The site of the Hall was also chosen with care. It is situated above a steep natural escarpment overlooking Dewsbury, Batley and Birstall with extensive views beyond. Equally the house would be visible from a large number of places reminding people of the wealth and power of the Savile family.
The site of the house is now protected as a scheduled ancient monument.
Further Reading Ainsworth, S., 1989, 'Howley Hall, West Yorkshire: Field Survey' in Ramsden M. et al., From Cornwall to Caithnes, BAR British Series 209.
This material was compiled by the Education Officer for