The name Woodhouse is first attested around the 1170s as Wd(e)husa, Wd(e)huse, and Wudeusum. It is likely to derive from Old English wudu 'wood' and hūs 'houses'. It was described in 1853 as a "large and handsome village". Woodhouse is now a largely working-class area, with a racially diverse population and a sizeable student community.
The area climbs a hill rising from Woodhouse Moor, adjacent to the University of Leeds, and backs onto woodland known as Woodhouse Ridge, a part of the Meanwood Valley Trail and the Forest of Leeds.
Older residences are largely redbrick back-to-back and 'through' terraced housing. There are also concrete council houses (the Holborn Estate) and a mixture of more modern buildings, particularly student accommodation. There is a small amount of light industry. The Anglican parish church of St Mark's, currently disused but being renovated for use by Gateway Church Leeds, lends its name to nearby streets and the St Mark's Residences of the university. The church building was used as the exterior of The Parish Church of St Mathews in the film Beiderbecke Affair. Other older buildings include Quarry Mount Primary School, and several public houses. On Holborn Approach (formerly Institution Street) is the Temperance Hall and Mechanics' Institute which was opened by Samuel Smiles in 1851 as an alternative to local pubs for socialising. It cost £900 and is of red bricks with yellow sandstone details. Over the years it as been used for various purposes. It is now used as Holborn Church.
During World War II the Institution Street (now Holborn Approach) area was accidentally bombed by the German Luftwaffe during night-time blackout air-raid attempts to destroy a nearby industrial target. Several buildings were hit and as a result 3 people at the bottom end of the street were killed.
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- A. H. Smith, The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, English Place-Name Society, 30–37, 8 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961–63), IV 130.
- William White (1853) Directory and Gazetteer of Leeds, Bradford,.... West Riding of Yorkshire (reprinted 1969, Clarke Double & Brendon)
- Forest of Leeds Woodhouse Ridge
- R. J. Morris The Historical Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1981), page 103
- The ancient parish of Leeds: historical and genealogical information at GENUKI (Woodhouse (both Great and Little) was in this parish)
- YEP Woodhouse Today Community Website
- Quarry Mount primary school BBC Club
- Leodis archive of Leeds example search: location: Woodhouse and term: Institution Street (now Holborn Approach)