William Otes, a woollen cloth merchant, first built a house at Shibden around 1420. Through marriage the house came into the ownership of the Saviles of Elland Old Hall, a powerful local family. The hall was altered in 1509 when the original south front was replaced and a second floor inserted above the main body of the house. Robert Waterhouse, an affluent York lawyer, who inherited in 1584, carried out further alterations and extensions including the stone housebody window. He also placed a “poor man’s tapestry” in the dining room. This was an elaborate painted decoration for those not able to afford the real thing. In 1612, however, the house was sold owing to financial difficulties.
Shibden Hall then passed into the Lister family, who lived there for over 300 years. Anne Lister went to live there in 1815 and inherited the estate from her uncle in1836. She was responsible for greatly altering and extending the grounds and premises, creating the hall and grounds that we see today. Her friend Ann Walker went to live with her at the hall and inherited it after Anne’s death. As is recorded elsewhere in this book, Ann Walker found the task of managing all her estates beyond her capabilities, and the hall was occupied by tenants for a number of years until Dr.John Lister arrived from The Isle of Wight in 1855. It passed to his son John Lister, a well-known local figure, in 1867. He was the last member of the family to own the hall.
John Lister, educated at Winchester and Brasenose College, Oxford was a “scholar of the first rank”. When he died in 1933 he had been a governor of Hipperholme Grammar school for 47 years and chairman for 27 of them. He left both the hall and the grounds to the people of Halifax and when, in 1926, he opened Shibden Park, the guests included the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII.