Stank Hall Barn

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Monday, 1st December 2008


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Stank Hall Barn

MOST VISITORS to the White Rose Shopping Centre, on the southern edge of Leeds, won’t be aware that this magnificent barn, dating from the 15th century, stands just 500 yards away on the opposite slope of the little valley of the Mill Shaw Beck.


Stank Hall Barn, Beeston, is a scheduled Ancient Monument. It’s said to date from 1420 with a phase of rebuilding in 1492 (allegedly using some of the timber left over from the construction of the Santa Maria, Niña and Pinta for Christopher Columbus!). It was originally covered in wattle-and-daub.


The stone building attached to the barn on the left is said to have been used as a chapel by Major Joshua Greathead (1616-1684) who fought in Cromwell’s army at the battle of Adwalton Moor in 1644. At the time Stank Hall Farm belonged to the Royalist John Hodgson.

The Farnley Wood Plot


After the Restoration, Greathead became involved in the Farnley Wood Plot of 1663. Although his reputation appears to have drawn local people into the plot, Greathead himself turned informer, or rather spy. On the 14th January, 1664, three (of the 26) conspirators were hung, drawn and quartered on a specially constructed gallows at nearby Chapeltown Moor.


The Wikipedia account of the plot states  ‘The executioner, a local joiner, of the name Peter Mason cut off the three heads, and over the course of the night, preserved them. The following day, they were stuck on the railings of Moot Hall.

It wasn't until 1677 that the skulls were blown down in a gale.’


The article quotes this contemporary account:


Being instigated by the devil, did make use of one Joshua Greathead of Gildersome, as their instrument to seduce and draw several persons into a combination, and did craftily, subtly and maliciously seduce the same persons into a plot


I don’t think that many old barns in Leeds can have such grim connections.