Hartley Royd - An Early Fielden Residence (16th -17th Century)

The majority of the people who have ancestral links to the Fielden family of Todmorden are often able to trace their roots back to a Nicholas Fielden who had married a Christobel Stansfield early in the 16th century.  Nicholas died in 1624 and to one of his sons John (one of many John Fieldens) he left Harley Royd Farm.  There is some uncertain as to when the present Harley Royd farm is from, either that time or shortly after, but the it certainly is a place where an impression of the early life of some of the Fieldens can be gained.  It is situated 3 miles north west of Todmorden, high up on the moors above Burnley Road.

Some members of the Fielden Society were lucky enough to be shown around it by its present owners.  Here is a summary of the visit.

HartleyRoydAhead of us lay Hartley Royd, the ancestral home of the Fieldens of Todmorden, its stones weathered by centuries of wind and rain.  We entered the courtyard and paused to look at the front door where Jarrett had noted a date stone in his book.  Photos were taken of the group and then Douglas gave us all a wonderful surprise. He had arranged with the present owners, Mr and Mrs Pilling, to allow us to look around inside their magnificent property.  We entered by the side door having taken off our boots and were treated to a guided tour of this ancient farmhouse.  We learnt that when they bought the house, the farmer who was
there only used the side extension for living quarters.  The main and original house was being used as a barn and to store his Land Rover. They had then started a massive restoration project, which had taken them many years.  They had had no plans to work off and had to make decisions based on very little documentation and personal opinion.  The result is that they have managed to create a comfortable modern dwelling with original features that fit beautifully into the new interior. 

In the main room there was a huge fireplace very reminiscent of the one at Todmorden Old Hall.  This room was where the family would have spent most of their time when indoors.  The fire would have provided warmth and a means of cooking their food.  The furniture they had chosen complemented the room and side furniture in oak completed the look.  These days the room is not used to the same extent as it would have been used in the past.  A small door off one side led to a much smaller lounge where there were comfortable chairs and a TV.  Much easier to heat and stay warm in they told us.

Another door led out to the back of the front door we had been looking at recently.  They had created a ‘porch’ by adding an interior door two metres back from the old front door.  Mr Pilling told us that originally the ‘old front door’ had not been there.  The front door was actually where the interior door was now and the "porch" had been open to the elements.  Thus visitors who had entered here had some shelter whilst they knocked on the door and no doubt taken their boots off, just as we had done.

We took our leave of our generous guides and went to look at the south facing elevation of the house.  Apparently there had been a set of stairs rising to a first floor entrance and these were supposed to create more of a grand entrance.  Douglas told us that a previous Fielden had married a young lady from Scaitcliffe Hall on the other side of the valley.  Scaitcliffe was a much larger and more imposing house and the lady required her new home to be of the same standard.  Her husband in trying to please her had managed to bankrupt himself and had to sell Hartley Royd.  It therefore moved out of the Fielden family’s ownership.  Luckily the present owners had managed not to go down that same road.



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