Churches Together in Otley

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History of The Churches in Otley          contents page

Note: the detail below is from the 2002 edition
 of Otley Past Present and Future

The Archbishop’s Palace


In 1968 a local history class undertook a ‘dig’ supervised by J Le Patourel, prior to the building of St Joseph’s School on the site. The object was to investigate the remains of the Manor house first mentioned in 1226 with reference to Archbishop Grey who granted a fair and market, founded a borough and gave encouragement to the building of a bridge. In a survey of 1307, the Otley house has a very high value compared with the other 11 in Yorkshire. Ten years later the town and house were badly damaged by Scots raiders for which the Scots were excommunicated by Melton.

The dig uncovered a free-standing apsidal stone built chapel, which succeeded timber buildings, and is of Saxon or Norman date. This had been incorporated later into a range of buildings with an upper floor chapel and private apartments. A well made covered drain ran under the west end of the block. In the thirteenth century the chapel was again altered and extended by the addition of a square end instead of the apse, and more buildings to the west.

The scalloped capital, now in the Museum, was found being re-used as a stylobate and was dated about 1150.

There was little pottery: only ten shards were dated from c650-c850. There were five Saxo-Norman rims and the rest up to the end of the eighteenth century.

Other finds included animal bones, an almost complete skeleton of a very large dog or wolf, a socketed arrowhead, (probably thirteenth century) and coins, the earliest a King John penny c1205-10, also a Robert II of Scotland penny 1371-1390

The present Manor House was built in 1792 and there is a comprehensive literature on the Archbishop’s Place in Otley Museum.