History of Hellewell Syke
History of Hellewell Syke
Hellewell Syke is situated in Syke Lane (formerly known as Hellewell Syke Lane) in Lightcliffe.  Hellewell translates as ‘holy well’ and a ‘syke’ is a small stream running through a muddy field.  In the cellar at Hellwell Syke is a well, in which the water is drinkable and at a constant level all year round.  Could this have been the Holy Well in times gone by?

Hellewell Syke was owned by Hipperholme Grammar School from 1671 to 1891, when it was bought by the then tenant, Michael Woodhead, a joiner and contractor.  The school had acquired the house and grounds in 1671 by way of an endowment from Samuel Sunderland.  At that time the property included two closes of land down to the present Leeds Whitehall Road and on part of what is now the golf course.  This endowment, dated 30 June 1671, is referred to on p.190 of Crabtree’s Concise History of the Parish and Vicarage of Halifax, published in 1836, as follows: ‘A house, barn & garden, and 2 closes, containing altogether, 2A. 1R. 32P, now called Helliwell Syke….’  This was let to Richard Woodhead for £13.2s.0d. per annum.

It seems, therefore, that the house could have been occupied by the Woodhead family, as tenants, for at least 220 years.  The census return for 1851 shows a Joseph Woodhead in occupation, with his wife and eight children.  (There were only two bedrooms at the time!)

The booklet A History of Hipperholme Grammar School refers to the deeds of Hellewell Syke and other properties being kept in an old oak chest at the school.  In this chest is a feoffment dated 13 August 1613 to John Rydes of Hipperholme, and one dated 3 September 1619 to John Barraclough, senior, of Brighouse, blacksmith, of a messuage called Hellewell Syke, and two closes.  A further transfer took place on 11 February 1636, from John Barraclough to Samuel Sunderland of Coley hall (gent).  A receipt for £50 is attached!

So the history is traced back to 1613 when the property was certainly a smallholding and probably a blacksmith’s shop.  Considerable building work was carried out in 1800 by Hipperholme Grammar School; the builder’s and joiner’s accounts are all in the old oak chest at the school.

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