Back Lane Arncliffe

Back Lane, Arncliffe.
Photo Phyllida Oates.

Les Bloom’s plan for us at Healaugh near Tadcaster, with connections to the Whartons of Mallerstang and Lord Fairfax of Denton Hall, had to be postponed due to injury. So, accompanied with archive notes, the group met instead in Littondale’s Arncliffe to review this ancient village, developed from Iron Age settlers on the hillside, and 9th century Anglo- Saxons. Their compact system around a communal green still applies, on original sites of cottages, barns, workshops, an inn and a church. The ancient farming system is still visible, 17th century barns still in use, as is historic Back Lane, the turf Monks’ road and the narrow packhorse bridge over Cowside Beck.

The 14th century cornmill, which progressively adapted, now modernised to serve as residences, still reveals very early features. Arncliffe’s church originated in 1100, was rebuilt in 1500, restored in the 18th century, and the churchyard retains many notable memorials, including Archdeacon Boyd and Canon Shuffrey. The frequent visits of Charles Kingsley in the 19th century are well documented, and the clear waters of the River Skirfare are considered to have inspired his writing of ‘The Water Babies’.