The Headingley you see today formed in the 19th century as a premier suburb of industrial Leeds. At this point in history, wealthy mill-owners and merchants sought sanctuary from the city smog in the clean air of Headingley Hill.


However, Headingley actually established centuries earlier in the Domesday Book of 1086:

“In Hedlingleia seven carucates of land (700 acres) of land for geld (taxes). Land for three ploughs and a half. Two thanes held in King Edward’s time as two manors. Two villeins are here and one plough. It was worth 40s now worth 4s”

It is likely that Headingley settled as an Anglo-Saxon settlement, possibly named as Anglo-Saxon chieftain, ‘Headda’.

Huge estates in Yorkshire and Linconshire were granted to Norman baron, Ilbert de Lacy. In 1152, his son, Henry de Lacy, granted part of this land to the monks of Kirkstall Abbey. Together with many other grants, Kirkstall Abbey controlled virtually all the land in Headingley. Although Headingley predominantly comprised of sheep pastures, outpost farms known as granges soon established at New Grange and Moor Grange.

The land would have been a patchwork quilt of pastures with a few lanes passing through.  Woodhouse Lane and Headingley Lane were ancient roads that still exist today, terminating around the 14th century to make way for today’s North Lane. Following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, no local residents had the funds to buy any land. It was gradually sold off to outsiders attracted by the stronger Leeds economy and a good river crossing.


In the 17th and 18th century Headingley’s development decelerated, with the exception of some notable elite newcomers. The Brudenell family from Northamptonshire, later to become the earls of cardigan road, and the Bainbrigge and Foxcroft families. With today’s Brudenell Road, Brainbrigge Road and Foxcroft Estate, the families’ involvement in the area remains cemented in the Headingley history books. Although, there would have been much space between them as the area’s 1775 population amounted to less than 700 inhabitants!


Post 1830 there was considerable building of detached villas and terraces occupied by merchants, bankers, lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs. Headingley was the ‘Belgravia of Leeds’ at this time.

Development continued apace from 1830 with house building along Cottage Road and Moor Road, and down Shaw Lane, including the erection of a row of grand terrace houses (Oakfield Terrace) on what today is Grove Lane. These were constructed by one of the first ‘Building Societies’ – a collective of residents who effectively funded each other as the construction progressed. Each property has its own personality, many keyed into one another – double fronted or double-rear elevations, some with bays and some even with rather ornate ‘turrets’.

5 Shaw Lane External
Today, many of these grand Victorian properties offer exceptional apartments and flats, allowing those on more limited budgets to experience the splendour of this by-gone era. Without doubt, living in Headingley provides you a firm link to the past and to a quality of life still envied today in most cities.

Discover what Headingley properties we have available here.