In the summer of 2016 when I was staying in Hebden Bridge my eye was constantly drawn to an imposing building on the North side of the river. I could see it from where I was staying and so finally one day I decided to find my way to see it up close. This is what I wrote in my blog about that day: ‘So a day without plans . . . From my room I could see an imposing old hall across the valley, a little higher than my building so, around 11 a.m. (a lazy morning writing up my blog) I headed up New Road which climbed steeply until I came to the hall. Despite the intermittent downpours there was an amazing view from this elevated position and I could just seen the window of my room peeking out between the trees.’ Yesterday afternoon I was kicking my heels at home. Amazon had promised to deliver my new mattress topper on Tuesday and I’d basically not left the house as I waited its arrival apart from a quick trip to buy milk on Wednesday afternoon. Now it was Thursday and it had just arrived – yeah! Still feeling lethargic I browsed around my ancestry research and came across a reference to Weasel Hall. Abraham Crabtree, the paternal grandfather of the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed (!!!) had lived at that address from 1871-1891. I suddenly recalled that the old hall I’d walked up to was close to a railway tunnel called Weasel Tunnel. In fact I’d taken a photo of the sign because, in error, Hebden had been spelt Hebron. So, just as the sun was setting, i.e. 3:30 p.m. I set off to see if the hall could possibly be Weasel hall.
Unlike last year when I just took photos of the views of the valley from the hall I wanted to know more so I knocked on the door. “You don’t know me but my ancestors used to live here several generations ago,” was my conversation starter. Within minutes I’d found that the current owner had been a pizza delivery man in Bolton (where I grew up). I’d found out online that the present Weasel Hall only dates from around 1840: “Constructed by the Manchester and Leeds Railway Co. c.1840 to replace Weasel Hall which was demolished in the construction of the railway line. Hammer-dressed stone, stone slate roof. 2 storeys. 3 cells each.” The current owner suggests that the ornate chimneys may have been salvaged from the earlier hall because they seem far too grand for a simple country hall. He’s lived there for 12 years and when I asked him who had renovated the place he mentioned a man called Barker who currently lives in a renovated farm near Stoodley Pike – with no road access. I wondered if it was one of those lovely farms Sarah and I had passed on our way down from Stoodley Pike in the summer. The more I looked at Weasel Hall from different angles the more it reminded me of Lily Hall. In fact Lily Hall is directly across the valley from here, perched precariously on a steep hillside. The proportions of the buildings are almost the same. I seemed to recall Anne telling me that Mr Barker renovated Lily Hall. I checked up, and sure enough, the same person appears to have renovated both buildings around the same time. Wow!