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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7 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.

  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.

    Thanks

  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.

    Roger

  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

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