A visit to Armitage Bridge

Saturday 18 August 2012 turned out to be one of the more memorable days in an English summer that will not be fondly remembered for it’s weather.

Accompanying cousin Sue and her husband Hugh, I visited The Hermitage at Armitage Bridge in the parish of Almondbury. The Hermitage is home to Mark and Clare Oldfield who fell in love with the property at first sight and bought it some 9 years ago.  As they became increasingly interested in the history of their home, they came across The Armitage Family website through which they made contact with Sue and kindly invited her and family to visit them.

Mark and Clare made us most welcome and enthusiastically showed us around the house and gardens of The Hermitage and then took us on a tour of Armitage Bridge.

The Hermitage was built around 1750 and is the oldest property in Armitage Bridge even predating the local church of St Pauls which was originally built in 1848 and rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1987.

Locals have told the Oldfields that as recently as the early 1950’s a disused half-timbered medieval style house/barn stood in the grounds of The Hermitage. Whether this was the original Hermitage is unknown but half timbered houses were built from the 13th century onwards.

There are two bridges in Armitage Bridge, one of which would originally have been Ermitage’s Bridge, so named because it would have been known as a place where a hermit lived or as a resting place on one of the many Almondbury trade routes. The main bridge over the river Holme is close to the church and the smaller bridge over Dean Brook (Tolson Dye House Bridge) is close to The Hermitage. It is not known after which of these the village of Armitage Bridge is named.

George Redmonds, a local historian, in his paper on the origin of the name Armitage speculates that all Armitages owe their surname to the same place-name. He writes that the present bridge in the village of Armitage Bridge is first mentioned in 1817 but the settlement known as ARMITAGE dates back at least 750 years. The present village is situated on the spot where, over 750 years ago, land was granted to the Knights Templar and a deed drawn up between 1236 and 1258 refers to “ a certain messuage with garden and building erected thereupon with appurtenances which was called the hermitage with 10 acres of land”. Certainly the locality, Redmonds writes, gave rise to a family name before very long for a reference of 1258 in the deeds of a priory at Pontefract mentions Richard de Hermitagio living in Almondbury parish.

Mark and Clare showed us a large and ancient stone sited in their garden which is believed to mark the spot where an earlier building once stood. Could this have been the messuage referred to in the deed mentioned by George Redmonds and did Sue, Hugh and I stand on the very spot where the first Armitage stood almost 800 years before us?

Michael Armitage
August 2012

Mark and Clare recently acquired The Golden Cock, a very well known pub with restaurant in nearby Farnley Tyas, which has now reopened following extensive refurbishment. Should this article encourage you to tread where many Armitages have trodden before, a warm welcome and excellent food awaits there.

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12 Responses to A visit to Armitage Bridge

  1. Richard James Armitage says:

    Hello Michael Armitage: I just stumbled on this web site by dumb luck. I have never seen photographs of the area you have just described. Wow. My father, Standford James Armitage told me a story about this location and the year was around 1212. The person in my fathers story was a Richard de Hermitage. My father was told that this mans family arrived in England in or around 1066 with Williams invading army. The de Hermitage family settled in the Almondbury district on a property called the Hermitage sometime between 1066 and 1212. Dad was also told that this Richard de Hermitage was a Templar Knight who upon his return from the Holy Land, 2nd Crusade ending up Almondbury at a place called the Hermitage.This story I first heard when I was about 14 years old and my father heard this story from my grandfather who I believe was born in Hudderfield, Yorkshire in the late 1800s. Dad told me that these events had been passed down for many generations but I have no proof of its truth. There is a parish church that has a written document with the name Richard de Hermitage and the years was 1212. I have never seen the document and it would require a lot of leg work to track down this church and then be given permission to search through centuries of old documents for verification of this story. My father believed that Richard was probably a Norman from France and this would account for his French surname.

    Michael, my mother has a copy of the Armitage coat of arms and my father got it from some a shop that has all the family coat of arms. I do not know the name of this shop but it is somewhere in downtown London, England.

    Just thought you might enjoy this story as told to me many years ago.

    I live on a 42 foot bluewater sloop in Ladysmith, British Columbia on Vancouver Island in Canada.

    Drop me a line is you like.

    Richard J. Armitage.

    • Mary says:

      Dear Armitage Cousins:
      Thank you for posting the interesting information on the origins of the ARMITAGE family. I am a direct descendants of the ARMITAGE family from Horbury, Yorkshire. A look at the map, and Horbury appears to be about 10 miles away from Almondbury, so not that far. My ancestor William ARMITAGE was born in about the mid 1750s, probably in Horbury I do not know if he was married more than once, but I believe he had a wife Elizabeth. He was a white clothier by occupation. Their daughter Elizabeth ARMITAGE was born in Horbury in 1791 and baptized in Horbury at St. Peter and St. Paul Church. She married John LEE, born 1785 in Oulton, Leeds Yorkshire. John LEE was a dyer with dyeworks in either Hunslet or Wakefield. They were my 3 x great grandparents.

      One of Elizabeth ARMITAGES sisters Mary, married David RUDDOCK, both born in Horbury. Their son Samuel RUDDOCK became a very highly respected and well renowned stone sculptor.

      I would love to know more about my ARMITAGE ancestry, and to find out how my Horbury branch connects to the main ARMITAGE family, which I gather is the one from Almondbury, Yorkshire.
      Thanks, Mary, also in Canada

    • Sue Woodd says:

      First of all do you get told I’m replying to this on your normal email account? I’m only 5 years late with my reply!
      Am absolutely fascinated by your story. I am Michael’s cousin Sue, mentioned in the visit to The Hermitage. I expect I was totally immersed in the book I have now finished on my family history (Armitages and Broadbents) so didn’t get round to looking at replies.
      I am now doing “errata and omissions” and would love to include your story. So this is to ask if I may please?
      By the way I suspect some of the facts in your story have been twisted a bit especially around the surname. I think it more likely the name arose because Richard built himself a home in the grounds of The Hermitage. This was the beginning of surnames in England as I’ve said in my book. Also I believe the surname started in Latin and not French! That’s the written language which was used back then.
      Best wishes, Sue Woodd

  2. Joyce mullins says:

    Hello Richard, My Grandfather was Robert William Armitage his Father James and all born in Hull East Yorkshire I have been doing a little research via Ancestry and a trip to England last year but can go no further back than 1803 but it is great to see your comments on the earlier origins of our ancestors I had guessed the origin was French as have copy of 17th century map of Hull and all the coats of arms are French. thank you for your comments and greetings for the New Year Joy Mullins.

  3. Diana (Fox) Stuhr says:

    Good Morning,
    I ran across your site will looking for more info. on my father’s Maternal side of the family .
    His Grandmother was Septra Mary (Armitage) Robinson, and they settled in Alberta, Canada
    which is where I was born. My husband and I weren’t lucky enough to get to Yorkshire, on our visit
    to London in 2008; just wondered if there were any more relatives out there.


  4. Michael Armitage says:

    Hello Diana

    I am afraid the name Septra Mary Armitage means nothing to me but it might help you to know that my grandfather was Edward Armitage born 1865. His father was Frederick Armitage born circa 1838 who married Judith Emily Tate.

  5. Roger Armitage says:

    Hi Joyce

    My Armitage’s go back to 1728 in Featherstone which is in East Yorkshire,Joseph was born in or around Featherstone or Purston Jaglin in 1728, and stayed in the area for the next 3 Generations, some of his descendants moved to the Hull area to settle and work on the land.
    As I’m in West Yorkshire, it’s not too far to visit the graves, and perhaps discover new ones.


  6. Ali Dunphy says:

    Hi Michael found your site through googling my 2nd great grandfather. George Armitage his son Fredrick George Armitage his daughter Winifred Bowman my grandmother. Im chuffed i found the history of surname but disappointed that its not the same family xxx

  7. Emma Armitagebrown says:

    Such an interesting piece of history.
    I’m interested to know if it is still possible to visit The Hermitage. I am making a trip to England in three weeks from Australia and my first place to visit is Huddersfield. I would love to visit this amazing place.
    Could someone please let me know if this is possible?
    Many thanks,

    I am a descendant from John Armitage (1748-1819) and Elizabeth Smith (1756-1831).
    His son was William Armitage (1784-1831) and Jane Watson (1787-1831).
    His son was also William Armitage (1818-1890) married Hannah Ward (1821-1901)
    His son was George Armitage (1871-1950) married Sarah Jane Hugill (1872-1950) from Middlesbrough area and were my Great-Grandparents.
    If anyone a connection with any of these people I would love to hear from you.
    Or if anyone has any information regarding these people I too would be very interested.

    From Emma

    • Sue Woodd says:

      Hi Emma
      The Hermitage is a private residence in the village of Armitage Bridge but its current owners are interested in its history and were happy to show us round.
      I have written a book on my family history called “From Huddersfield with Love, an Armitage/Broadbent family history” so have done some wide ranging research.
      The Armitage family is very prolific especially in the male line, and very quickly branched and spread all over the world. Our branch started in Almondbury (which included Armitage Bridge) and moved to Huddersfield where they stayed till my father left in the 1930’s. Your names are not part of our immediate family.
      My research just goes back to my Great Great Grandfather born 1799. However there is much scope for detailed research of the Armitage line going further back. I am sure that those Armitages who were still living in the Huddersfield area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are much more closely related to us than those who emigrated earlier.
      Hope this is of some interest,
      Sue Woodd

      • Emma Armitagebrown says:

        Thanks so much Sue.
        I was fortunate to visit Armitage Bridge and the Hermitage in May this year and loved it! Clare was extremely hospitable and we(my parents and sister included) thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Clare also showed us your book. Great job!
        Thank you so much for your reply.
        We did not find any living relatives during our trip to England but visited many cemeteries and found ancestors graves.
        We loved England and are so pleased we made the trip!
        From Emma

  8. Alan Andrews says:

    I was born Alan Armitage and adopted at 21 months and became Andrews. I found out that Armitage Bridge was given to French immigrants by the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottingham around 1212. 2 Armatage brothers had an argument over ?? and 1 left the family home and went to Kirklees Priory and changed one letter in the name in order to start anew with no connection to the family in Armitage Bridge! Can anyone confirm this? I think I have come full circle: I was born in Nottingham and have lived in Huddersfield for the last 45 years (back to my ancestral home?)
    Thank you in anticipation
    A Andrews

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