Difference between revisions of "Robin Hood's Chair (Baildon)"

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
m
m (Text replacement - "<div class="no-img"><p id="byline">" to "<div class="no-img"> <p id="byline">")
 
(18 intermediate revisions by 2 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
__NOTOC__{{PnItemTop|Lat=53.8451|Lon=-1.7933|AdmDiv=Yorkshire|Vicinity=''c.'' 2 km SW of Baildon|Type=Natural feature|Interest=Robin Hood name|Status=Defunct|Demonym=|Riding=West|GreaterLondon=|Year=1852|Aka=Robin Hood's Seat; Druids Chair|Century=|Cluster1=|Cluster2=|Cluster3=|Image=robin-hoods-chair-baildon.jpg|Postcards=|ExtraCat1=Places named Robin Hood's Chair|ExtraCat2=|ExtraCat3=|ExtraCat4=|ExtraCat5=|ExtraLink1=Robin Hood's Cave (Rock Cemetery, Nottingham)|ExtraLink2=Robin Hood Pond (Thorpe Thewles)|GeopointPrefix=|GeopointSuffix=|StatusSuffix=?|DatePrefix=|DateSuffix=}}
+
__NOTOC__{{PnItemTop|Lat=53.8451|Lon=-1.7933|AdmDiv=Yorkshire|Vicinity=''c.'' 2 km SW of Baildon|Type=Natural feature|Interest=Robin Hood name|Status=Defunct|Demonym=|Riding=West|GreaterLondon=|Year=1852|Aka=Robin Hood's Seat; Druids Chair|Century=|Cluster1=|Cluster2=|Cluster3=|Image=Robin-hoods-chair-baildon-nicholas-smith.jpg|Postcards=|ExtraCat1=Places named Robin Hood's Chair|ExtraCat2=|ExtraCat3=|ExtraCat4=|ExtraCat5=|ExtraLink1=Robin Hood's Cave (Rock Cemetery, Nottingham)|ExtraLink2=|GeopointPrefix=|GeopointSuffix=|StatusSuffix=?|DatePrefix=|DateSuffix=}}
 
{{#display_map:{{#var:Coords}}~{{#replace:{{PAGENAME}}|&#39;|'}}|width=34%|service=leaflet|enablefullscreen=yes}}<div class="pnMapLegend">Robin Hood's Chair.</div>
 
{{#display_map:{{#var:Coords}}~{{#replace:{{PAGENAME}}|&#39;|'}}|width=34%|service=leaflet|enablefullscreen=yes}}<div class="pnMapLegend">Robin Hood's Chair.</div>
[[File:{{#var:Pnimage}}|thumb|right|500px|At Robin Hood's Chair, 1923: Nick Smith's grandma Parr on the left; girl and middle-aged lady unidentified, but the dog was named Jack / Courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick] and Kate Smith; photo treatment Henrik Thiil Nielsen.]]
+
[[File:{{#var:Pnimage}}|thumb|right|500px|Robin Hood's Chair / Photo courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick Smith], 26 Oct. 2019.]]
<div class="no-img"><p id="byline">By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-12-17. Revised by {{#realname:{{REVISIONUSER}}}}, {{REVISIONYEAR}}-{{REVISIONMONTH}}-{{REVISIONDAY2}}. Photos and additional information courtesy Baildon surveyor [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nicholas Smith] and his mother, kate Smith.</p>Robin Hood's Chair, a boulder in Trench Wood, ''c.'' 2 km SW of Baildon, is first recorded in 1852. The name and whereabouts of the Chair are now largely, if not entirely, forgotten in the area.
+
<div class="no-img">
 +
<p id="byline">By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-12-17. Revised by {{#realname:{{REVISIONUSER}}}}, {{REVISIONYEAR}}-{{REVISIONMONTH}}-{{REVISIONDAY2}}. Photos, field research and additional information courtesy Baildon surveyor [https://www.ricsfirms.com/office/087375/Nicholas-Smith Nicholas Smith], his wife, and his mother, Kate Smith.</p>Robin Hood's Chair, a boulder in Trench Wood, ''c.'' 2 km SW of Baildon (West Yorkshire), is first recorded in 1852. The name and whereabouts of the Chair are largely, if not entirely, forgotten in the area.
 
__TOC__
 
__TOC__
  
  
Author and blogger Kai Roberts describes the Chair as "an earthfast boulder in which water has worn a natural cavity resembling a seat and where Victorian antiquarians suggested some local shaman or chief once sat". He further notes that it is also sometimes known as Robin Hood's Seat and is located "about halfway down Shipley Glen".<ref>[https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ Old Elmet Dreaming: My Folkloric Influences.]</ref> According to the 1891 allusion cited below, the Chair is located "[a]t the top of Trench Wood, on entering the Glen". It has an interesting neighbour, the Shipley Glen Tramway, which has taken passengers up and down the glen since 1895.<ref>[[http://www.shipleyglentramway.co.uk/ Shipley Glen Tramway]] website.</ref> An official publication of Baildon Council has the Chair <span style="white-space:nowrap;">"[n]ear</span> the top of the tramway",<ref name="joeashton2015a">{{:Ashton, Joe 2015a}}, p. 20, No. 45.</ref> which seems to confirm the statement in the 1891 allusion. The coordinates used for the map and cited in the fact box are those of the georeferenced version of the 25" O.S. map of the area (see Maps below).  
+
Author and blogger Kai Roberts describes the Chair as "an earthfast boulder in which water has worn a natural cavity resembling a seat and where Victorian antiquarians suggested some local shaman or chief once sat". He further notes that it is also sometimes known as Robin Hood's Seat and, perhaps less helpfully, that it is located "about halfway down Shipley Glen".<ref>[https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ Old Elmet Dreaming: My Folkloric Influences.]</ref> Passing within 50 meters or so of the Chair is the Shipley Glen Tramway, which has taken passengers up and down the glen since 1895.<ref>[[http://www.shipleyglentramway.co.uk/ Shipley Glen Tramway]] website.</ref> An official publication of Baildon Council has the Chair <span style="white-space:nowrap;">"[n]ear</span> the top of the tramway",<ref name="joeashton2015a">{{:Ashton, Joe 2015a}}, p. 20, No. 45.</ref> while according to the 1891 allusion cited below, the Chair is located "[a]t the top of Trench Wood, on entering the Glen". The latter statements are both correct.
  
== Photo of Robin Hood's Chair ==
+
== Photos of Robin Hood's Chair ==
In late May of 2019, Baildon [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ surveyor Nicholas Smith] contacted me after reading about Robin Hood's Chair on this page and on Kai Roberts's blog. He had come here (and [https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ there]) looking for information about the "Druids Chair" that figures in a 1923 photo in his mother's family album, which includes photos that belonged to Nick's grandparents, who owned the Shipley Glen Tramway during the 1920s to 1940s. As part of our email correspondence, Nick mailed me a scan of the photo, which Kate Smith, his mother, has generously allowed me to put on this page. So now for the first time Robin Hood's (and the Druid's) Chair in Shipley Glen can be seen on the web. The photo taken in 1923 shows Nick Smith's grandma Parr (on the left) together with an unidentified girl and middle-aged lady as well as a dog named Jack who found time to (perhaps) smile at the camera and give the girl a kiss on the cheek while he was being photographed. They are all seated on or leaning against Robin Hood's Chair.  
+
In late May of 2019, Baildon [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ surveyor Nicholas Smith] contacted IRHB after reading about Robin Hood's Chair on this page and on Kai Roberts's blog. He had come here (and [https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ there]) looking for information about the "Druids Chair" that figures in a 1923 photo in his mother's family album, which includes photos that belonged to Nick's grandparents, who owned the Shipley Glen Tramway during the 1920s to 1940s. Nick mailed me a scan of the photo, which his mother, Kate Smith, generously allowed me to put on this page (see Image gallery below). So now for the first time Robin Hood's (and the Druid's) Chair in Shipley Glen could be seen on the web. The photo taken in 1923 shows Nick Smith's grandma Parr (on the left) together with an unidentified girl and middle-aged lady as well as a dog named Jack who found time to (perhaps) smile at the camera and give the girl a kiss on the cheek while he was being photographed. They are all seated on or leaning against Robin Hood's Chair.  
  
In the photo album the boulder is referred to as the Druid's Chair, and in fact Nick and Kate Smith had never before heard the name "Robin Hood's Chair". However, there can be no real doubt that the Druid's Chair is identical with that of R. Hood. The stone matches the descriptions cited on this page &ndash; note especially the hollow in the centre of the rock created by water &ndash; and the connection between Johnnie Gray's 1891 account and the name "Druid's Stone" seems clear enough. Although either may have inspired the other, it is perhaps most likely on balance that it was Gray who dreamed up the druidic connection. One may wonder whether they were more deserving of such admiration than any of the other peoples Englishmen can count among their ancestors, but there is no doubt that the Ancient Celts with their wise druids and their mysterious leechcraft were the darlings of 19th century English antiquaries, as they still are of many New Age devotees. Thus in the mid-19th century, a local clergyman felt convinced that Robin Hood's Cave, discovered on the perimeter of Nottingham's recently constructed "Rock Cemetery", had been part of an ancient druid temple. Its origin is in fact [[Robin Hood's Cave (Rock Cemetery, Nottingham)|rather more prosaic.]] Perhaps the name "Druid's Chair" crystallized when someone in the Baildon area read Gray's account of the boulder? In all events, Nick notes that the photo is preceded and followed in the album by others taken not far from the tramway tracks, a fact which further supports the identification.
+
 
 +
In the family album, the photo bears the legend "Druid's Chair. Shipley Glen 1923", and in fact Nick and Kate Smith had never heard the name "Robin Hood's Chair". However, there can be no doubt that the Druid's Chair is identical with that of R. Hood. The stone matches the descriptions cited on this page &ndash; note especially the hollow in the centre of the rock created by water &ndash; and the connection between Johnnie Gray's 1891 account (see Allusions below) and the name "Druid's Stone" seems clear enough. Although either may have inspired the other, it is perhaps most likely on balance that it was Gray who dreamed up the druidic connection. One may wonder whether they were more deserving of such admiration than any of the other peoples Englishmen can count among their ancestors, but there is no doubt that the Ancient Celts with their wise druids and their mysterious leechcraft were the darlings of 19th century English antiquaries, as they still are to many New Age devotees. Thus in the mid-19th century, a local clergyman felt convinced that Robin Hood's Cave, discovered on the perimeter of Nottingham's recently constructed "Rock Cemetery", had been part of an ancient druid temple. Its origin is in fact [[Robin Hood's Cave (Rock Cemetery, Nottingham)|rather more prosaic.]]<ref>[[Robin Hood Close (Barnsdale)|Robin Hood Close in Barnsdale]] was owned by a progressive druidist scholar.</ref> Perhaps the name "Druid's Chair" crystallized when someone in the Baildon area read Gray's account of the boulder? In all events, Nick notes that the photo is preceded and followed in the album by others taken not far from the tramway tracks, a fact which further supports the identification.
 +
 
 +
Nick has kindly supplied a recent photo of Robin Hood's Chair.
  
 
== Locating the stone ==  
 
== Locating the stone ==  
Despite the mention in the official publication by Baildon Council,<ref name="joeashton2015a"/> it seems fairly safe to conclude that both the name and location of the boulder have been forgotten locally. Nick Smith, who was born and bred in the area and still lives there, has a strong interest in Baildon and Shipley Glen local history, and his mother Kate's memory would go back to the late 1930s or early 40s, yet neither had ever heard about the Chair before. Mr Smith has recently spent a generous amount of time trying to locate it, for which I am very grateful. I have in the meantime supplied what I believe are better coordinates.
+
Despite the mention in a publication by Baildon Council,<ref name="joeashton2015a"/> it seems fairly safe to conclude that both the name and location of the boulder had been largely forgotten locally. Nick Smith, born and bred in the area and still residing there, has a strong interest in Baildon and Shipley Glen local history, and his mother Kate's memory would go back to the late 1930s or early 40s, yet neither had ever heard about the Chair before.  
 +
 
 +
During summer and autumn of 2019, Mr Smith and his wife spent a generous amount of time trying to locate Robin Hood's Chair. In early October, Nick's wife came across another local who thought he knew where it was, and following his directions they found the Chair on October 26. It does indeed sit near the top of Trench Wood, in an area they had visited before, but it was only visible now that the undergrowth was dying back.
  
Nick and Kate Smith feel certain that the Chair must be on the Glen in or near Trench Wood, near the top station of the tramway where several of the photos in the album were taken, probably on the same day as that of the Chair. I believe this tallies well with what the 25" maps listed below suggest. Mr Smith suspects that the stone is in an area that is partially fenced off and more or less closed to the public. This of course makes the search more difficult as does also the fact that the area, significantly changed from what it was when the maps were made, is in parts very heavily wooded, some areas being nearly inaccessible. Nick Smith notes that there were many other attractions on Shipley Glen around the turn of the 20th century and that people are only just starting to take an interest in them. There were large fair&shy;ground rides, aerial runways, Japanese Gardens etc., all on a scale one would not now imagine in a place like Shipley Glen, but in those days tens of thousands used to come and spend a Sunday afternoon. To people in Bradford the Glen was the immediate countryside. Sir Titus Salt's mill and model village, Saltaire,<ref>[http://www.saltairevillage.info/ Saltaire Village website.]</ref> remain at the bottom of the Glen Tramway as memories of that time.<ref>Much of this is based on emails from Nick Smith to Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 27 May to 5 June 2019.</ref>
+
Nick Smith notes that there were many other attractions on Shipley Glen around the turn of the 20th century and that people are only just starting to take an interest in them. There were large fair&shy;ground rides, aerial runways, Japanese Gardens etc., all on a scale one would not now imagine in a place like Shipley Glen, but in those days tens of thousands used to come and spend a Sunday afternoon. To people in Bradford the Glen was the immediate countryside. Sir Titus Salt's mill and model village, Saltaire,<ref>[http://www.saltairevillage.info/ Saltaire Village website.]</ref> remain at the bottom of the Glen Tramway as memories of that time.<ref>Most of this is based on emails from Nick Smith to Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 27 May to 5 June, 26 and 27 October 2019.</ref> Perhaps Robin Hood's Chair could once more become a local attraction?
  
 
== The Chair in maps and records ==
 
== The Chair in maps and records ==
The earliest record of the name "Robin Hood's Chair" known to IRHB is a 6" O.S. map of Aireborough, Baildon, Bingley and Shipley published in 1852. It recurs in maps published as late as 1948 if not later (see Maps below). The tithe award for Shipley (1849) does not include it,<ref>1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/ Genealogist.co.uk], piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required).</ref> neither does that for Baildon, though it lists two plots named or described as "Trench Wood".<ref>1849 tithe award for Baildon, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/ Genealogist.co.uk], piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required).</ref>
+
The earliest record of the name "Robin Hood's Chair" known to IRHB is a 6" O.S. map of Aireborough, Baildon, Bingley and Shipley published in 1852. It recurs in O.S. maps published as late as 1948 if not later (see Maps below). Nick Smith has confirmed to IRHB that these maps have the Chair in (essentially) the right place, though he believes the true location may be a meter or so east of that indicated on the maps (see map detail with his annotation in image gallery below). He notes that the "seat" of the chair faces east and that the "one circular rock sign [on the 25" O.S. maps] is misleading" for "the whole area is scattered with large rocks and outcrops of rock and the site slopes from north to south quite steeply". The "F.P" on the 25" O.S. maps indicates "a narrow unmade public footpath passing to the top side of the woods". The Smiths approached Robin Hood's Chair from the path, which is also indicated on the interactive map included on this page (zoom in to see it).<ref>This mainly based on email correspondence between Nicholas Smith and Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 26-27 Oct. 2019.</ref> The coordinates used for the latter map and cited in the fact box are those of the georeferenced version of the 25" O.S. map (see Maps below).
 +
 
 +
 
 +
The tithe award for Shipley (1849) does not include Robin Hood's Chair (under any known name),<ref>1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.com Genealogist], piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required).</ref> neither does that for Baildon, which does, however, lists two plots named "Trench Wood".<ref>1849 tithe award for Baildon, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.com Genealogist], piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required).</ref>
 
{{PnItemQry}}
 
{{PnItemQry}}
  
Line 42: Line 51:
 
== Discussion ==
 
== Discussion ==
 
* {{:Ashton, Joe 2015a}}, p. 20, No. 45.
 
* {{:Ashton, Joe 2015a}}, p. 20, No. 45.
* [https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ Old Elmet Dreaming: My Folkloric Influences]
+
* [https://kairoberts.wordpress.com/tag/folklore/ Old Elmet Dreaming: My Folkloric Influences] (Kay Roberts)
  
 
== Background ==
 
== Background ==
* 1845 tithe award for Baildon, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/ Genealogist.co.uk], piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required)
+
* 1845 tithe award for Baildon, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.com Genealogist], piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required)
* 1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/ Genealogist.co.uk], piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required)
+
* 1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the [https://www.thegenealogist.com Genealogist], piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required)
 
* [http://www.shipleyglentramway.co.uk/ Shipley Glen Tramway.]
 
* [http://www.shipleyglentramway.co.uk/ Shipley Glen Tramway.]
 
* [http://www.saltairevillage.info/ Saltaire Village.]<!--
 
* [http://www.saltairevillage.info/ Saltaire Village.]<!--
Line 56: Line 65:
 
</div>
 
</div>
  
 +
<div id="gallery">
 
{{ImgGalleryIntro}}
 
{{ImgGalleryIntro}}
 
<gallery widths="195px">
 
<gallery widths="195px">
 +
File:Robin-hoods-chair-baildon-nicholas-smith.jpg|Robin Hood's Chair / Photo courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick Smith], 26 Oct. 2019.
 
File:Robin-hoods-chair-baildon.jpg|At Robin Hood's Chair, 1923: Nick Smith's grandma Parr on the left; girl and middle-aged lady unidentified, but the dog was named Jack / Courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick] and Kate Smith; photo treatment Henrik Thiil Nielsen.
 
File:Robin-hoods-chair-baildon.jpg|At Robin Hood's Chair, 1923: Nick Smith's grandma Parr on the left; girl and middle-aged lady unidentified, but the dog was named Jack / Courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick] and Kate Smith; photo treatment Henrik Thiil Nielsen.
 
File:Robin-hoods-chair-baildon-2.jpg|The preceding photo in Nick's mother's photo album / Courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick] and Kate Smith; photo treatment Henrik Thiil Nielsen.
 
File:Robin-hoods-chair-baildon-2.jpg|The preceding photo in Nick's mother's photo album / Courtesy [http://www.jumpupmedia.co.uk/n-smith/ Nick] and Kate Smith; photo treatment Henrik Thiil Nielsen.
 +
File:26-inch-os-map-robin-hoods-chair-baildon-nicholas-smith.jpg|25" O.S. map of the area with Nicholas Smith's annotation.
 
File:shipley-glen-tramway entrance-tri-art-p.jpg|The hilltop entrance to the tramway station. Robin Hood's Chair is near the top of the hill and close to the tracks / 'tri:art:p', Google Earth Panoramio.
 
File:shipley-glen-tramway entrance-tri-art-p.jpg|The hilltop entrance to the tramway station. Robin Hood's Chair is near the top of the hill and close to the tracks / 'tri:art:p', Google Earth Panoramio.
 
File:shipley-glen-tramway-howard-c-harrison-google-earth-panoramio.jpg|The tramway station in the valley. Robin Hood's Chair is near the top of the hill and close to the tracks / Howard C. Harrison, Google Earth Panoramio.
 
File:shipley-glen-tramway-howard-c-harrison-google-earth-panoramio.jpg|The tramway station in the valley. Robin Hood's Chair is near the top of the hill and close to the tracks / Howard C. Harrison, Google Earth Panoramio.
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
 +
</div>
  
 
{{PnItemNav}}
 
{{PnItemNav}}

Latest revision as of 00:45, 17 May 2020

Locality
Coordinate 53.8451, -1.7933
Adm. div. West Riding of Yorkshire
Vicinity c. 2 km SW of Baildon
Type Natural feature
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct?
First Record 1852
A.k.a. Robin Hood's Seat; Druids Chair
Loading map...
Robin Hood's Chair.
Robin Hood's Chair / Photo courtesy Nick Smith, 26 Oct. 2019.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-12-17. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2020-05-17. Photos, field research and additional information courtesy Baildon surveyor Nicholas Smith, his wife, and his mother, Kate Smith.

Robin Hood's Chair, a boulder in Trench Wood, c. 2 km SW of Baildon (West Yorkshire), is first recorded in 1852. The name and whereabouts of the Chair are largely, if not entirely, forgotten in the area.


Author and blogger Kai Roberts describes the Chair as "an earthfast boulder in which water has worn a natural cavity resembling a seat and where Victorian antiquarians suggested some local shaman or chief once sat". He further notes that it is also sometimes known as Robin Hood's Seat and, perhaps less helpfully, that it is located "about halfway down Shipley Glen".[1] Passing within 50 meters or so of the Chair is the Shipley Glen Tramway, which has taken passengers up and down the glen since 1895.[2] An official publication of Baildon Council has the Chair "[n]ear the top of the tramway",[3] while according to the 1891 allusion cited below, the Chair is located "[a]t the top of Trench Wood, on entering the Glen". The latter statements are both correct.

Photos of Robin Hood's Chair

In late May of 2019, Baildon surveyor Nicholas Smith contacted IRHB after reading about Robin Hood's Chair on this page and on Kai Roberts's blog. He had come here (and there) looking for information about the "Druids Chair" that figures in a 1923 photo in his mother's family album, which includes photos that belonged to Nick's grandparents, who owned the Shipley Glen Tramway during the 1920s to 1940s. Nick mailed me a scan of the photo, which his mother, Kate Smith, generously allowed me to put on this page (see Image gallery below). So now for the first time Robin Hood's (and the Druid's) Chair in Shipley Glen could be seen on the web. The photo taken in 1923 shows Nick Smith's grandma Parr (on the left) together with an unidentified girl and middle-aged lady as well as a dog named Jack who found time to (perhaps) smile at the camera and give the girl a kiss on the cheek while he was being photographed. They are all seated on or leaning against Robin Hood's Chair.


In the family album, the photo bears the legend "Druid's Chair. Shipley Glen 1923", and in fact Nick and Kate Smith had never heard the name "Robin Hood's Chair". However, there can be no doubt that the Druid's Chair is identical with that of R. Hood. The stone matches the descriptions cited on this page – note especially the hollow in the centre of the rock created by water – and the connection between Johnnie Gray's 1891 account (see Allusions below) and the name "Druid's Stone" seems clear enough. Although either may have inspired the other, it is perhaps most likely on balance that it was Gray who dreamed up the druidic connection. One may wonder whether they were more deserving of such admiration than any of the other peoples Englishmen can count among their ancestors, but there is no doubt that the Ancient Celts with their wise druids and their mysterious leechcraft were the darlings of 19th century English antiquaries, as they still are to many New Age devotees. Thus in the mid-19th century, a local clergyman felt convinced that Robin Hood's Cave, discovered on the perimeter of Nottingham's recently constructed "Rock Cemetery", had been part of an ancient druid temple. Its origin is in fact rather more prosaic.[4] Perhaps the name "Druid's Chair" crystallized when someone in the Baildon area read Gray's account of the boulder? In all events, Nick notes that the photo is preceded and followed in the album by others taken not far from the tramway tracks, a fact which further supports the identification.

Nick has kindly supplied a recent photo of Robin Hood's Chair.

Locating the stone

Despite the mention in a publication by Baildon Council,[3] it seems fairly safe to conclude that both the name and location of the boulder had been largely forgotten locally. Nick Smith, born and bred in the area and still residing there, has a strong interest in Baildon and Shipley Glen local history, and his mother Kate's memory would go back to the late 1930s or early 40s, yet neither had ever heard about the Chair before.

During summer and autumn of 2019, Mr Smith and his wife spent a generous amount of time trying to locate Robin Hood's Chair. In early October, Nick's wife came across another local who thought he knew where it was, and following his directions they found the Chair on October 26. It does indeed sit near the top of Trench Wood, in an area they had visited before, but it was only visible now that the undergrowth was dying back.

Nick Smith notes that there were many other attractions on Shipley Glen around the turn of the 20th century and that people are only just starting to take an interest in them. There were large fair­ground rides, aerial runways, Japanese Gardens etc., all on a scale one would not now imagine in a place like Shipley Glen, but in those days tens of thousands used to come and spend a Sunday afternoon. To people in Bradford the Glen was the immediate countryside. Sir Titus Salt's mill and model village, Saltaire,[5] remain at the bottom of the Glen Tramway as memories of that time.[6] Perhaps Robin Hood's Chair could once more become a local attraction?

The Chair in maps and records

The earliest record of the name "Robin Hood's Chair" known to IRHB is a 6" O.S. map of Aireborough, Baildon, Bingley and Shipley published in 1852. It recurs in O.S. maps published as late as 1948 if not later (see Maps below). Nick Smith has confirmed to IRHB that these maps have the Chair in (essentially) the right place, though he believes the true location may be a meter or so east of that indicated on the maps (see map detail with his annotation in image gallery below). He notes that the "seat" of the chair faces east and that the "one circular rock sign [on the 25" O.S. maps] is misleading" for "the whole area is scattered with large rocks and outcrops of rock and the site slopes from north to south quite steeply". The "F.P" on the 25" O.S. maps indicates "a narrow unmade public footpath passing to the top side of the woods". The Smiths approached Robin Hood's Chair from the path, which is also indicated on the interactive map included on this page (zoom in to see it).[7] The coordinates used for the latter map and cited in the fact box are those of the georeferenced version of the 25" O.S. map (see Maps below).


The tithe award for Shipley (1849) does not include Robin Hood's Chair (under any known name),[8] neither does that for Baildon, which does, however, lists two plots named "Trench Wood".[9]

Allusions

1891 - Gray, Johnnie - Through Airedale from Goole to Malham (2)

At the top of Trench Wood, on entering the Glen there is a large stone with a bowl-shaped cavity, called from time immemorial Robin Hood's Seat. This designation is, of course, purely mythical, many such curious stones and other remarkable objects in our part of the country being associated in some fanciful way or other with this famous mediaeval outlaw. It may just as well have been the judgment-seat of some Druid priest or chief, or even (if credence may go so far) a holy basin for the retention of water in which leaves of the sacred oak were dipped and borne, as we are told, in processionals to the festal altars.* Similar stones are found elsewhere in our district near Druidical temples.[10]

Gazetteers

Maps

Sources

Discussion

Background

  • 1845 tithe award for Baildon, online at the Genealogist, piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required)
  • 1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the Genealogist, piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required)
  • Shipley Glen Tramway.
  • Saltaire Village.

Also see

Notes

  1. Old Elmet Dreaming: My Folkloric Influences.
  2. [Shipley Glen Tramway] website.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ashton, Joe, et. al., eds. Exploring Baildon: A Guide to Public Spaces (Baildon, Shipley, 2015), p. 20, No. 45.
  4. Robin Hood Close in Barnsdale was owned by a progressive druidist scholar.
  5. Saltaire Village website.
  6. Most of this is based on emails from Nick Smith to Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 27 May to 5 June, 26 and 27 October 2019.
  7. This mainly based on email correspondence between Nicholas Smith and Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 26-27 Oct. 2019.
  8. 1849 tithe award for Shipley, online at the Genealogist, piece 43, sub-piece 352, Images 423-54 (subscription required).
  9. 1849 tithe award for Baildon, online at the Genealogist, piece 43, sub-piece 027, Image 413, item 587; Image 426, item 550 (subscription required).
  10. Gray, Johnnie. Through Airedale from Goole to Malham (Leeds; Bradford; Skipton; Goole, 1891), p. 150.