5th March 2016
The most notable building in the area is Weetwood Hall which is currently a hotel and conference centre but dates back to the 1500’s where an ancient farm existed on a site known as the ‘Wappentake of Skyrack, named after a large oak tree that grew in Headingley for centuries.
From around the mid-16th century, the Foxcroft family owned the Weetwood estate. Daniel Foxcroft rebuilt parts in 1625, a date that is displayed above the porch of the original entrance to Weetwood Hall. During Henry VIII’s reign decorative plaster work became a popular architectural feature, as testified on the ceilings of Weetwood’s Manor House. One such intricate ancient feature that guests have the pleasure of seeing, is a framed lion’s head on the ceiling in the original porch way.
During the 18th century Weetwood was owned by John Gelder. In 1743 an advertisement reading “To be lett, Weetwood Hall, situate in the township of Hedingley in the parish of Leeds,” proves that Weetwood was put on sale at this time. In the ensuing decades, several different families owned the estate, which was eventually developed by Alf Cooke. Cooke was a wealthy, self-made Yorkshireman, whose initials are still visible on the stone columns which support the wrought iron gates by the main entrance.
During the First World War, Weetwood Hall was taken over by the war office and used as a convalescent hospital for officers.
In 1919 Leeds University bought the estate. The Manor House became private halls of residence for female students and the land was farmed by tenant farmers. Grants were given to pay for the residence fees of up to 30 young women who took up residence at Weetwood Hall. Weetwood Hall continued as a Halls of Residence for Leeds University until the 1980’s when it was decided the facility would be closed.
In 1993 Weetwood Hall was turned into one of the leading hotel and conference centres in the North of England, offering modern and high quality facilities in a site steeped with a fascinating history.