A Bit Of Local History

The Original Anglian Name for Shelley was 'Scylf'. Later in the Doomsday Book of 1086 it was 'Scheulay', but I like the joining of the 'Scylf' with 'Leah' ( an Anglian word for clearing) to give the meaning of Shelley as being - "The clearing on the terrace". A clearing because the surrounding area would be forest. As the centuries passed the forests became smaller as the land was used to provide man with his living and his food. A hundred years ago Shelley was just a compact little village on a shelf of land with small hamlets to the East, West, North and South of the village.

Map of Shelley produced at the time of the Shelley Enclosure 1807
This advertisement is taken from  "Taylors Shelley Family Almanac" for 1913  Price One Penny

Looking at the Census Returns for the 1880's just to see what the occupations of Shelley folk were, I find that 47(men of course) were in farming, either as Labourers or Farmers. Approximately 196 adults were involved in the cloth weaving industry, quite a few were Tailors or Seamstresses, a few were Imitation Seal Skin Finishers. There were 37 Coal-miners and 5 Blacksmiths apprentices.

Other occupations amongst men of the village were:-

·         Boot and Shoe Maker

·         Wheelwright

·         Gas Works Stoker

·         3 Railway Plate Layers

·         Clogger

·         Carpenter

·         and a Delver at a stone quarry.

Quite a few were General Labourers and there were several Stay Finishers and Stay Ironers.

Shelley was in the past an important centre - in The British Empire no less - for the making of 'Stays' better known as corsets

In the Census one 10 year old boy, Michael Roberts, was described as a scholar and half timer in a woollen mill. Quite a few women were described as Washerwomen or Servants, but most wives had no title or occupation.They just came after the head of the household.


Things have changed since then, I wonder if there is a Miner or Weaver living in Shelley to-day. Farming has seen enormous changes, and yet we still have lovely green fields throughout Shelley, no doubt due to some extent to the streams that flow down and underneath the hillsides.


A hundred years or so ago there were places with lovely names in Shelley, some still in use to-day - Goose Pasture, Spink Royd Ings, Rough Ings, Cinderhills, Ibbetson Row, Allen Wood, Tullas Closes, Windsor Castle!, Breary Close, Shrog, Hepworth Hobstrides and Upper Lightcliffe.


The hamlets of Roydhouse - a house in a clearing, Brookhouse - probably a house beside the river and Woodhouse a house made from timber, (but that was before we used stone to build our houses in Shelley) each speak for themselves, each was a single settlement originally. Ozzings, another early settlement goes back to the 1300's, the Norman times, and was once inhabited by a lady called Ozan de Shelley.


Another hamlet of Shelley is Hill Top and along with Healey it was once a busy community much involved with the hand loom weaving industry and earlier with the running of the Shelley Corn Mill at the bottom of Dam Hill in Thunderbridge.


When Shelley Church (Emmanuel Church) was built around 1866 it would have been almost in the centre of village life geographically, but the village has now sprawled westwards with new developments.


The Methodist Chapel in Far Bank was built by the Wesleyans and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1985. John Wesley preached from it's pulpit when on his journeys through the North of England.


About the same time, the 1790's, the Independent Chapel was built at the top of Far Bank but it closed almost 200 years later in 1977 and sadly it was eventually demolished.

Gryce Hall, the former home of Lord Savile, is a late Elizabethan farmhouse and is believed to have been converted many years ago from farm cottages and a barn.

Gryce Hall
Shelley Hall

Shelley Hall is a 17th century building which has been beautifully restored. It is quite near to what was once the Manor House and also near to the 'Pinfold'. The Pinfold was a small walled-in enclosure and was the 'pound' where animals which had strayed were rounded-up and locked in. They were not released until the owner had paid a fine.


The Shelley Pinfold was last used in about 1860

Written by Nancy Ryden