1st March 2016
Beckett’s Park was a family estate of around 450 acres with roots dating back to the mid 1600’s when it was known as New Grange. It was sold in 1829 and the auctioneer’s ‘prospect’ (we call them sales brochures today!) said…
“A panorama is presented which must be seen to be duly appreciated, there is so much of hill and dale, and such delightful regularity in the Park, such variety and beauty in the distant prospect, while the intermediate space is occupied by quiet rural villages in the valley..”
Well the quiet rural villages have gone but to this day we concur with the auctioneer’s opinion of the vista across the park and valley. There are few locations where there is such space and an open outlook that’s so close to suburbia. New Grange was sold for £37,000 at the auction but the sale was never completed. William Beckett, a banker in Leeds (the son of Sir John Beckett, Baronet, of Gledhow Hall in Leeds), negotiated a private deal and acquired the property, extending it and renaming it Kirkstall Grange.
Part of the land was sold off in the 19th and 20th centuries for housing (the Queenswood’s extending down the valley side towards Kirkstall) and ultimately the grounds were adopted by the municipality and the hall became part of the former Leeds Metropolitan University, now Leeds Beckett University, but the association with William Beckett was never lost and the whole area around this part of Headingley is simply known as Beckett’s Park.