|George Bancroft and friend outside Deanfield Farm|
Sowdens Farm is widely know locally because this was where the Revd. William Grimshaw, Haworth’s other famous incumbent who proceeded Patrick Bronte, once lived and George remembered sleeping in rooms occupied by that famous man, and always used to say “We might be better off today it there were one or two o’t’ same sort abart”. The seventeenth century farmhouse was occupied by Rev'd William Grimshaw from 1742, until his death in 1763, and he used it as the Parsonage for Haworth Parish Church, because neither the Church Trustees nor the Vicar of Bradford had seen fit to provide the incumbent or curate of Haworth with a dwelling house as part of the job. In those days the Haworth incumbents were expected to make his own living arrangements to attend to their duties. It is said that when Rev'd Grimshaw had visitors to stay, the house was so crowded that he would have sleep in the adjoining barn. On his death, his son became the new owner of Sowdens.
|Top Withens c1920's|
|Top Withens plaque|
|Present-day Top Withens and the moors|
|George & Hannah's Wedding Day|
For farmers like George, farming for over 60 years in the Upper Worth Valley, with the land very much as it always had been, with stones just below the surface when ploughing, he knew had its limitations. "When its ploughed time after time, it gradually moves down t’ hill till you’re down to nowt at t’top. During t’ war each farmer had to plough a certain acreage, regardless of need, and a farmer across the valley accordingly did just that. They’d gotten it reet grand, then during t’neet came a thunderstorm and washed all t’top soil down t’ bottom in a heap…it were a reet mess!”
|1- Deanfield 2- Scar Top Chapel 3- Top Withens|
|View over Ponden Reservoir from Deanfield|
After his wife Hannah died, George made the decision to spend a couple of weeks in a local nursing home, and liked it so much there that he stayed there for the remaining four years of his life. He passed away in April 2000 at the grand old age of 89 years and his funeral was fittingly held at Scar Top Chapel., where he had been a trustee for over 50 years.
[I am grateful to Adrian & June Bancroft, and also David Riley for the information and photographs they provided to help with this article]