30 October 2019

IT'S a former Bradford mill owner's family home that comes with four bedrooms, breathtaking views over the Aire Valley - and a history straight from the script of Downton Abbey.

For the detached period property at 688 Thornton Road, Thornton, opens a door into the fascinating lives of the people who were resident there a century ago.


Nestling in the heart of the village, famed for being the birthplace of the Bronte sisters, it was built for worsted manufacturer Alfred Northrop in the 1890s and called Fieldhead House.

It features heavily in the book "A History of Thornton Road", which unveils a rare glimpse into working life from a bygone age.

One of its live-in housekeepers, Muriel Charnock, kept a diary of her time there in the 1930s, when she was paid £1 a week for working 15 hour days,

"My sister and I slept in a small room, in single beds, at the top of the house," she wrote. "Out of our pay, we both sent five shillings (25p) back home as our father was ill and my mother, to make ends meet, had taken a job at Carlton Working Men's Club cleaning, washing the spittoon, and ironing the billiard tablecloth."

Fast forward to today, and a new chapter is poised to be written after the home was launched to market through the Saltaire office of estate agents Linley & Simpson with an asking price of £450,000.

Valuation manager Alex Woodhouse said: "This is a grand, characterful house that is one of a kind and very much part of the rich heritage of the village.

"Large rooms, a huge garden, double garage and fantastic views over the valley are all on offer.

"The character in this property is literally in the walls with beautiful wood panelling throughout starting in the hallway.


"Thornton is the perfect balance between rural and urban. With a lovely local high street boasting all the amenities one could ever need, and luscious green fields surrounding, it is a real Yorkshire gem.

"Renowned as the birthplace of the Bronte sisters, this village has lots of history yet is a modern, connected place to live."

Muriel's diary adds an extra dimension to the back story of the house, and brings to life its own pages of local history.

"My first task at 7am was to rake out the ashes in the fireplace and when it was all spick and span it had to be black leaded,"she recalled. "In the scullery was a large gas boiler for washing the bed sheets, as well as a peggy tub, a rubbing board and a mangle.

"As well as washing jobs, I had to bake all the bread, cakes, scones and buns on the scullery table. 

"Any spare moments had to be spent doing needlework - either sewing, darning, knitting or crocheting.

"One evening, at around 10 o'clock, I was sat on the fender by the fire making a tab rug when the mistress of the house entered and said: "What do you think you are doing?"

"I replied that I was making a tab rug and she got angry with me and said: "I pay you £1 a week and I expect a pound of work from you".

"I was really upset all night and the next day I gave my notice."

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