Antony Morris – May 2021
The Beaumont Family is historically one of the most prominent in all the West Riding and has roots dating back centuries. Whether Almondbury or Huddersfield, de Lacys or Ramsdens, the Beaumont Family has been near the centre of much of the town’s history.
Roger de Laci, chief-in-tenant, had gifted the family land in Huddersfield at around the turn of the thirteenth century (Minter & Minter, 2000). Nearly six hundred years later, in 1879, the Beaumont Family gifted land back to the commanders-in-chief, The Huddersfield Corporation. This land, which took nearly twenty years to negotiate and prise away from Henry F Beaumont, is now one of the most beautiful gems our town has to offer, Beaumont Park (Pattern, 2020).
On the 29th of May 1880, Maria Beaumont broke the soil above Dungeon Woods with a silver spade commencing the work that would shape this gem (Chronicle, 1880). Three years later, the artisans had almost finished and Queen Vic’s youngest son, Prince Leopold was drafted in for the opening ceremony, where he planted the magnificent sycamore tree that still stands there today (Pattern, 2015). Nearly thirty years in the making, Beaumont Park was equipped with brilliantly designed bridges, stairs and water features accessible by smaller lanes that come off two main paths. The bandstand was completed in 1883 (BBC, 2010) and over the years numerous local village brass bands have shared their trade on this stage. By 1886 the park was completed with its very own refreshments room, The Castle (Chronicle, 1886).
Now, let me cut to the chase (or not, as the case has been), while I do love Beaumont Park for its aesthetic value, I was drawn to this place via a rumour. A rumour that may not surprise readers of my previous articles; a tunnel. Not just any tunnel though, I am after that elusive passageway to Castle Hill.
A tunnel or rooms under the park would hardly be a surprise. Indeed, there are some early twentieth century accounts of such tunnels being found. Philip Ahier’s impressive publications on Huddersfield legends mentioned two men who had, after navigating a few obstacles, dropped into a chamber that had three tunnels running off that ‘could not be further explored’ (Ahier, 1943). No further detail is given. The Examiner reported that a young Peter Vincent had explored little caves in the 1950s that were rumoured to lead to Castle Hill (YorkshireLive, 2012). And, while I would have loved to get tucked into these tunnels, it is probably fair to say that although a number of places are rumoured to have tunnels leading to Castle Hill, none of them probably do, unfortunately.
Famous for its ham and egg teas, the park has faced some decline over the twentieth century, with the loss of the original bandstand in the 1930s, The Castle went in the 60s and the pavilion in 1998, but it is still a beautiful place (Pearson, 2011). And while it has probably lost the clean veneer of its earlier years, I believe the weathered stone and earth, combine with the darkness brought on by the ever-growing trees of Dungeon Woods, brings with it an entirely new, enchanting allure.
In closing, I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful folk of The Friends of Beaumont Park who have been responsible for the upkeep of our towns first-ever public park. Thank you, friends.
Friends of Beaumont Park, http://www.fobp.co.uk/
Ahier, P. (1943). The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and its District Vol 1 Part VI. Advertiser Press.
BBC. (2010, September 20). Bandstand cash for historic park. News.bbc.co.uk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/bradford/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_9015000/9015584.stm
Chronicle, H. (1880, June 1). A Silver Spade Lost and Found. Huddersfield Chronicle.
Chronicle, H. (1886, September 4). Borough Brewster Sessions. Huddersfield Chronicle.
Minter, G., & Minter, E. (1993). Discovering Old Huddersfield Part One. Huddersfield Local History Society
Pattern, D. (2015). HuddersFiled . Huddersfield.Exposed. https://huddersfield.exposed/archive/items/show/431
Pattern, D. (2020). Beaumont Park – Huddersfield Exposed: Exploring the History of the Huddersfield Area. Huddersfield.Exposed. https://huddersfield.exposed/wiki/Beaumont_Park
Pearson, J. (2011). Huddersfield’s Beaumont Park. Jeremy Mills Publishing.
YorkshireLive. (2012, October 9). Underground in Huddersfield: Are there tunnels under Castle Hill and Beaumont Park? YorkshireLive. https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/lifestyle/health-family/underground-huddersfield-tunnels-under-castle-4940838