City of Leeds
A history of Leeds
A map of the UK. Leeds is in the
centre of the UK Mainland, circled in
red1. Click on the map to enlarge.
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The details on Leeds that follows are in ascending order. It is not complete yet, there is much more I will be adding over time. Please check back often. Note: Click on any photo to enlarge it (opens in a new window).
Leeds has a rich history stretching back over a thousand years. Full of passion, love, hatred, violence, revolution, war, advancements, innovations. The area that Leeds now occupies can be traced back to the Bronze & Iron Ages.
Leeds is in the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire (which use to be called the West Riding of Yorkshire), which is in the county of , in the country of England, which is in the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Usually shortened to the United Kingdom (UK)). The United Kingdom of Great Britain (Or Great Britain) was used before Northern Ireland became part of the union. The UK consists of the countries of England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Island. Great Britain consists of the countries of England, Wales & Scotland.
The area called Loidis was the district & not a single place. The villages of Ledsham & Ledston (About 10 miles East of Leeds & part of the Leeds metropolitan area) have elements of the original name of Leeds. Loidis became Ledes, then became Ledes & then Leeds. It became a city in 1893, by Royal Charter.
Natives of Leeds are known as Loiners. The origin of this is not known, but there are several theories. It could come from Loidis. Another theory is that it is someone born within the sound of the church bells of Briggate. In the 19th century there were many yards & closes around Briggate which were called low ins or loins. Another possibility is that there were many lanes in Briggate & the surrounding area which were called loins. Men would gather at the end of these loins to gossip, etc & these men were called Loiners. It became a city in 1893, by Royal Charter.
Ice Age animal remains have been found in areas of Leeds. Hippopotami at Wortley & a tusk from a mammoth at Thwaite Mills.
The first humans appeared in the Mesolithic (The Middle Stone Age) about 9,500 years ago. Remains of these early settlers have been found in Leeds. Implements have been discovered in Hunslet, Roundhay & Tinshill. Evidence that Iron Age Celts settled in Cookridge & Ireland Wood have also been found. There are Romans remains in several parts of Leeds.Ice Age animal remains have been found in areas of Leeds. Hippopotami at Wortley & a tusk from a mammoth at Thwaite Mills.
The first humans appeared in the Mesolithic Period (The Middle Stone Age) about 9,500 years ago. Remains of these early settlers have been found in Leeds. Implements have been discovered in Hunslet, Roundhay & Tinshill. Evidence that Iron Age Celts settled in Cookridge & Ireland Wood have also been found. There are Romans remains in several parts of Leeds.
At the time of the first main Roman invasion the area now known as Leeds was occupied by a Celtic British tribe called the Brigantes, they controlled the largest section of Northern England, & a significant part of the Midlands. They had a strong point here, to guard the [River] Aire passage.
The first written mention of Leeds was in about 730 AD by the Venerable Bede in his 'History of the English Church and People'. He refers to Loidis. by which he meant Leeds & the surrounding areas. He went on to describe how the Pagan king Penda was killed at the battle of Winwaed. "This battle was won by King Oswy in the region of Loidis on the fifteenth of November in the thirteenth year of his reign (Circa 654–55), to the great benefit of both nations. For not only did he deliver his own people from the hostile attacks of the heathen, but after cutting off their infidel head he converted the Mercians and their neighbours to the Christian Faith." Winwaed was a river but it has never been identified. There is a strong theory that it is the river now known as Cock Beck in the Kingdom of Elmet (Which is now the county of West Yorkshire).The river in that period wound it's way through Pendas Fields & was named after king Pendas. Pendas Fields still exists in Leeds today.
When the Vikings came, the county of Yorkshire was divided into thirdings (Meaning a third part) or ridings (West Riding of Yorkshire, East Riding Yorkshire & North Riding of Yorkshire). Now the metropolitan counties of West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, respectively, created in 1974 by the 1972 Local Government Act). The metropolitan county of South Yorkshire was also created at this time.
Leeds is mentioned in The Domesday Book (A survey of the land & resources of England after the conquest by William the Conqueror & the Normans in 1066). It had a population of about 200 which is quite large for the time. Domesday Book recorded a settlement supporting 35 farming families, a priest, church, mill & several surrounding hamlets. The main area being around the parish church.
Kirkstall Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded on the banks of the river Aire. It was built between 1152-1182 & had a bloody & unpopular start & a bitter end when Henry VIII . Take a virtual tour of the Abbey.
The Lord of the Manor, Maurice De Gant granted a charter creating a new town called Leeds. He created a new street of houses where Briggate is now. It ran from where Leeds bridge now stands to Woodhouse open fields. It was called Briggate meaning 'The road to the bridge’ Thirty plots of land were laid out on either side of the street. Prior to that people of the manor had to work for the Lord of the manor before they could get a piece of land for their own use. The new charter allowed people to rent the new plots of land.
The houses on the site have a long & rich history. The house was mentioned in The Domesday Book & was called Neuhusum, meaning New House. In 1155 it was given to The Knights Templar, which is when it was renamed Temple Newsam. The current Temple Newsam was built between 1500–1520 & is one of the great stately homes of England. Take a virtual tour of Temple Newsam.
There is some confusion on when the school was first founded. Officially it was founded in 1552, however, there is evidence that suggests it existed as early as 1341. The school was created in 1552 to provide free, subsidised or fee–paying education to the children (boys) of Leeds.
It is suggested that there was a grammar school in Leeds as early as the middle of the 14th century. However the date of 1552 is the date on the will of William Sheafield who left £14 13s. 4d (£14, 13 shillings & 12p (pence)). 1 shilling=12p. £14 13s. 4d is worth about £3,000 in 2013. It is not known for certain where the school was located, but it is believed to be in The Calls by the River Aire near the centre of Leeds.
Between 1579 & 1624 it was located in the New Chapel building at the head of Headingley lane. In 1624 the great Leeds benefactor moved it "To a pleasant Field of his own which he surrounded with a substantial Wall and in the midst of the Quadrangle built the present Fabrick of the school." In 1857 it was again moved to a site on Woodhouse Moor & was of an ecclesiastical design. There were about 100 boys & the building was designed for about £200, about £16,000 in 2013.
By the 1990s there were 1,100 boys enrolled in the school which had three separate sites. It was decided it was not financially viable to try to improve the existing sites. so for the fourth time it moved to a new site at Alwoodley Gates. In 2005 LGS merged with Leeds Girls High School. The merged school is now called The Grammar School at Leeds.
Today the school is what we in the UK call a public school. That is not a state school, but a private elite school – an independent fee–paying school.
Leeds was granted its first Charter of Incorporation by Charles I. The charter set up a governing body of one Alderman, nine Burgesses & twenty Assistants. The charter was limited. The Crown reserved the rights to appoint replacements for any of the 30 which occurred by death. Local elections did not happen for some time. The Charter perished in the Civil War.
The first coast of arms seems to have originated from this period. The three silver stars where not added until later.
There were in fact three English Civil Wars. The first 1640–1646, the second 1647–1649 & the third was 1649–1651. During the first Civil War between King Charles I & Parliament, with most of Leeds on the King's side, there was a Royalist army occupying Leeds. In 1643 Parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fairfax, with his army, marched from Bradford to Leeds (About 7 miles/ 11km) to battle Sir William Savile at Leeds. Fairfax divided his forces to attack from both sides of the River Aire on 23rd January during a snowstorm. Fairfax lead one assault from the West while Captain Mildmay lead the second assault from the South. The Royalists caught in the middle battled for over 3 hours but were finally defeated. Savile fled & the Parliamentarians occupied Leeds.
They held Leeds until July by which time Royalist held most of Yorkshire. Lord Ferdinando Fairfax broke through the enemy lines at Bradford after staying behind to cover the withdrawal of his father Sir Thomas Fairfax. On his way with his troops, they were caught by 300 Royalist cavalry. Most of the Parliamentarians were killed or captured. Fairfax managed to escape with 5 others & arrived at Leeds to find about 80 infantrymen who had also escaped from Bradford, & a small garrison which his father had left behind on his way to Hull. Fairfax decided to lead the Parliamentarians out of Leeds to Hull to join his father. For the rest of the war Leeds remained in Royalist hands.
Of course the Royalists lost the war & we became a Republic with Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of the English Commonwealth. The monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles II as king (King Charles' I son) & we became a Kingdom again.
The new charter, replacing the first one, had significant & far–reaching differences. These included a mayor, twelve Aldermen, twenty-four assistants or councillors, a town clerk, and a recorder. It also allowed for local elections when a vacancy became available.
This is when the stars were added to the coat of arms, they represent the first mayor of Leeds–Thomas Danby.
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