View of Heptonstall across the Hebden valley
Heptonstall shown within West Yorkshire
|OS grid reference|
|Metropolitan county||West Yorkshire|
|Region||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||HEBDEN BRIDGE|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|UK Parliament||Calder Valley|
Heptonstall is a small village and civil parish within the Calderdale borough of West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the population of Heptonstall, including the hamlets of Colden and Slack Top, is 1,448. The town of Hebden Bridge lies directly to the southeast. Although Heptonstall comes under Hebden Bridge as a post town, it is not within the Hebden Royd town boundaries.
Historically a centre for hand-loom weaving, it was also the site of a battle in 1643 during the early part of the English Civil War. The foundation stone of its octagonal Methodist chapel, the oldest still in continued use, was laid following the visit of John Wesley in 1764.
Heptonstall cottages and terraced houses were characterised by their large first floor windows to maximise the light for weaving.
The older churchyard claims "King" David Hartley amongst notable graves there. Hartley was founder of the Cragg Coiners and lived as a rogue in the Calderdale area until he was hanged at Tyburn near York in 1770.
The American poet Sylvia Plath, who was married to Ted Hughes from nearby Mytholmroyd, is buried in the new St. Thomas a' Beckett's churchyard. Plath's headstone is regularly vandalised by removing Hughes's surname from the memorial, because some of her fans believe he was responsible for her death.
The village is a popular day trip destination for tourists and walkers, especially in the warmer summer months. There are some facilities; other than the two pubs the Cross and the White Lion, there is a small post office (the original post office, on Smithwell Lane, is now a residential property) and there are public toilets in the lane opposite Church Street. As of 2009, a very pleasant cafe/deli offering lunches and teas also caters for the regular influx of seasonal visitors, which is situated in Towngate.
The village's oldest house is Stag Cottage (circa 1580) which is tucked away in a small courtyard known as Stag Fold. At the back of the cottage, on the level of the public car park, is the doorway to the "dungeon", once used as a lock-up. Nearby there is the pinfold, built to hold livestock but now popular as a picnic area.
In the mid 1980s the paved road through Heptonstall was torn up, revealing the original stone setts. Although the plan was to remove these, protests by some concerned villagers convinced the council to restore them instead. At the same time the existing concrete street lights were replaced with a quainter alternative which resemble cast-iron gas lamps from the late 19th century. This was not only a nod towards tourism but it also acted as a traffic calming measure.
In Heptonstall, there is a local park where many children take part in sport and a playground for the younger children. Many walking routes are available to use around Heptonstall along with popular biking routes.
A small local history museum  is based in what was once the village grammar school.
Adjacent to Heptonstall lies the National Trust woodlands Hardcastle Crags  where there are miles of walks and a restored 19th century mill. Half a mile out of the village is Lumb Bank, the first of the Arvon Foundation's residential centres for writers .
Each year on Good Friday there are performances of the Heptonstall version of the traditional Pace Egg play. These are held in Weavers' Square next to the old graveyard.
History of Heptonstall Church
Heptonstall's original church was named after St Thomas a Becket, founded circa 1260 and was altered and added to over several centuries. It was damaged by a gale in 1847 (and is now only a shell), so a new church, St Thomas the Apostle, was built in the same churchyard. This suffered a lightning strike in 1875.
The church has good acoustics, and is used for the annual Pennine Spring Music Festival, held every Spring Bank Holiday week. This includes workshops, masterclasses and performances.
The old church ruin is now carefully maintained and occasionally open air services are conducted there. It featured as a location in the 1993 BBC Television drama series, Mr. Wroe's Virgins, which was directed by Danny Boyle.
The tower of the new church contains eight bells, cast in 1912 by John Taylor & Co. These were removed to the bell foundry for refurbishment on 31 August 2012 and were returned, with new bearings, in October 2012.
Heptonstall Methodist Chapel
John Wesley laid the foundation stone of the unusual octagonal chapel which is situated off Northgate, and it was completed in 1764. He recommended the shape to avoid conflict with the established church. Local people went to the Parish Church as usual and also attended Methodist preaching. The chapel also provided teaching in reading and writing for the poor. The chapel was originally built as a symmetrical octagon. By 1802, however, with a Society of 337 members and 1,002 scholars, one end was pulled down and the side walls were extended to provide extra space.
The building featured in the BBC Four 2010 series Churches: How to read them, in which Dr Richard Taylor named it as one of his ten favourite churches, saying: "If buildings have an aura, this one radiated friendship." The chapel is usually open and the interior is well worth a visit.
Heptonstall on screen
The village, with its atmospheric narrow cobbled street, has frequently been used as a location in television and film.
Heptonstall was the main location used in the BBC Three situation comedy The Gemma Factor.which was set in and around Heptonstall, with the local diner being used as a major part of the show. It was aired in spring 2010. It was also a major location in The Rochdale Pioneers, a film produced by the Co-operative British Youth Film Academy, telling the story of the birth of the Co-operative movement, and screened in November 2012.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Calderdale Retrieved 2009-09-02
- BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire Heptonstall - a well-kept secret1
- Reader's Digest (1998) Land of Moors and Dales Reader's Digest Association Ltd
- Lucy Caffyn (Oct., 1983) World Archaeology, Vol. 15, No. 2, p 174 "Housing in an Industrial Landscape: A Study of Workers' Housing in West Yorkshire"
-  Pennine Spring Music
- Pask, Reverend Howard (9 July 2012). "Refurbishment of the bells of St Thomas’ church". Heptonstall Parish Website. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Kirk, Connie Ann (2004). Sylvia Plath: A Biography. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-313-33214-2.
- Heptonstall Trail, A Calder Civic Trust publication, 1996
- "Richard Taylor, Rider Books".
- "The Rochdale Pioneers".
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