The Oldest Building in West Yorkshire

A few days ago I happened to read something in passing about the oldest building in West Yorkshire. It’s a church, of course, dating back to someone in the 700s CE, and it looked as if a fair bit of the original building survived.

It’s in Ledsham, about 10 miles east of Leeds, and a little north of Castleford. The name, according to Wikipedia, derives from ham, the Saxon word for home or farm. The conjecture, though, is that Led is an early reference to Leeds. Curious, as in the same period, Bede referred to Loidis, and later it became Ledes; there’s no other apparent reference to Led in relation to Leeds that I know of. It’s even more intriguing as there are two other villages close by, Ledston and the wonderfully-named Ledston Luck. Regardless of name, All Saints church still deserved a visit, and it was certainly worth the time.


This is the original entrance, at the base of the tower at the west end. The decoration, sadly, is 19th century. But the original tower had two storeys (there’s a small blocked-in window higher up, as well as other blocked-in Saxon windows along thesSouth wall.


It’s quite easy to make out the original nave, although the church was added to in Norman times – they increased the height of the tower, for example) and again in the 13th and 15 the centuries, adding a north aisle, replacing the chancel, putting in larger windows, and transforming the original porticus into what’s now the porch.



The final restoration came in 1871, and was quite tasteful. A couple of things that didn’t come out in the pictures, though, are the fragments of an old cross built into the north aisle wall and an ancient stone used in the tower arch with a Roman carving of a cleaver in it.


It’s a place well worth a visit, and there’s more to see in the graveyard. Hard to be certain, but this looks to be from 1665. If so, it’s worn remarkably well. No guarantees on this, though.


And there’s even the mason’s name at the bottom.


The church would be enough. But behind it stands a row of 11 stone cottages, dating from 1610. They were built for workers in the orphanage built by Lady Elizabeth Hastings (which also still stands, now Hastings Hall). The cottages are well-tended, and these days let to older residents of the area.



Down past the hall is the old school house for Ledsham, about the same vintage as the hall and cottages, with the bell in the small tower above the roof.


Didn’t stop at the local pub for lunch, at least not on this visit, but it’s called the Chequers, and has existed on the same spot since at least 1540.

3 thoughts on “The Oldest Building in West Yorkshire

  1. Audrey Taylor

    Dear Mr.Nickson.
    I am the church warden at AllSsints Church Ledsham and I have just read your article about the Church, if you ever make another visit to us here in Ledsham , let me know and we could perhaps walk round the Church together and exchange views.

  2. Andrea Datura in Wakefield

    A truly insightful and enjoyable read of a fascinating ancient building, that is most certainly worth a visit for its varying architecture and lovely surroundings. Thank you!

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