The History of Holdsworth House
The history of Holdsworth House is as mesmerising as its architecture. Our stunning Jacobean manor dates back to 1633, although there is evidence of a building on the site as far back as 1272. To this day Holdsworth House retains many period features. You'll discover stone mullioned windows, beamed ceilings and impressive fireplaces that all add a sense of calm, comfort and tradition.
INDEPENDENTLY OWNED SINCE 1272
Holdsworth House has always been independently owned. From 1633 to 1963 it was the home to numerous families of wealth and distinction. In 1962 the manor was bought by Rita and Freddie Pearson who opened it to the public in 1963 as The Cavalier Country Club. Today the Pearsons' daughters continue to take an active role in preserving the house's history, character and success. We are proud it is one of Yorkshire's leading four star hotels.
Late Medieval Period
The site, on which the house now stands, was first mentioned in documents as far back as 1272. The De Aldworth family paid six old pence for 2½ acres of land in the hamlet; the name Aldworth refers to old estate or farm.
Over the centuries, families of wealth and distinction occupied the land. One such owner was the rich but unfortunate Vicar of Halifax - Dr Robert Haldesworth - who was murdered by thieves at Halifax vicarage in 1556. Haldesworth was buried in the south chapel of the magnificent Halifax Parish Church (now Halifax Minster).
"A fine example of a Calder Valley yeoman’s hall of the immediate post Medieval period"
National Civic Trust,1989
Tudor & Stuart England
The present house was probably built in 1598 although the date stone above the front porch bears the initials and date A.B. 1633. Abraham Brigg certainly owned the manor about this time, but he is said to have wasted his estate and given way to drink. In 1657 he sold it to Henry Wadsworth of Luddenden and went to keep an alehouse in the town. The Wadsworth family retained possession for more than two hundred years, until 1877.
In 1689 John and Deborah Wadsworth built a new barn. You can see their date stone I.W.D 1680 on the west porch of the courtyard. The barn was re-built in 1797 by their descendent Richard Wadsworth. In 1837 the last direct descendent, Elizabeth Wadsworth, died and the property passed to a distant relation - Matthew Ayrton. Ayrton changed his name to Wadsworth to comply with the terms of Miss Wadsworth’s will. In a nod to the manor's past, we now name a selection of our private dining and meeting rooms to these families.
In the early 1800s, at the time of the Brontë sisters' growing fame, the Wadsworth Family lived at Holdsworth House. The Brontës lived in Haworth, approximately eight miles from Holdsworth House. It is quite possible that the two families, who were of similar standing in their communities, knew of each other. However we've never found any firm evidence to prove it.
Interestingly, we do have copies of diaries written by Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth’s in the 1820s. In them she describes her excitement in going to watch celebrated Italian violinist and composer, Niccolò Paganini, in Halifax. It so happens that Paganini was also a musical favourite of the Brontë sisters. The performance was described by the Halifax and Huddersfield Express as ‘exhibiting a brilliant and numerous assemblage of the leading gentry and fashion of the town and neighbourhood'. So, whether the Brontë sisters and Elizabeth Wadsworth all stood together in the Assembly Rooms, to witness Paganini's performance we will never know!
Certainly Holdsworth House is well-placed for exploring the romantic Brontë Country. Haworth is a wonderful, scenic drive from the hotel if you wish to explore the magnificent Brontë Parsonage Museum.
The Cavalier Country Club
In the late 19th century Holdsworth House was divided into two dwellings and let to tenants.
There were only three or four further owners until Rita and Freddie Pearson bought the house in 1962. The family, including daughters Gail and Kim, moved in and they worked on plans to establish a thriving business. In 1963 the Rita and Freddie opened the manor as a private members’ club, called The Cavalier Country Club.
The Club proved an immediate success, with over a thousand members. It had an annual fee of seven pounds and seven shillings (about £120 today). Local businessmen used the restaurant to entertain customers and they encouraged Rita and Freddie Pearson to build rooms at the rear of the old house.
In 1964 perhaps the most famous guests of all stayed - The Beatles. You can read about their visit here. The hotel became a hit with celebrities and entertainers thanks to Freddie's London connections and the popularity of the northern club circuit.
Over the next forty years the original eight bedrooms gradually increased to forty. In 2016, guest demand led to the remaining single rooms being knocked together to create some larger Executive Suites. The current room stock stands at thirty-eight.
Rita Pearson died in 1981 and Freddie passed away in 1989. The house was entrusted to the safe hands of the Pearsons' daughters, Gail and Kim, who remain dedicated to its ongoing success and preservation. In the Nineties the manor’s name was changed back to Holdsworth House to reflect its history and the local address. Today it is proud to be one of Yorkshire’s best, award-winning four-star hotels.