The ancient market town of Otley lies on the banks of the river Wharfe, in the metropolitan borough of the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire. This ancient town, with a population of less than 15 000 can track its origins back from Saxon times when it was part of a manor given to the Archbishop of York by Athelstan, the King of England from 924 to 939.
The Archbishops of York had a palace on the manor and served as the lords. Otley is first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and is believed to derive its name from one of its early settlers. There are signs of earlier habitation in the area, with the discovery of Romano-British pottery near the church. Archaeological discoveries seem to suggest that the Romans settled in the area at some point.
The town’s first church was built in the 7th century. Otley developed in the first half of the 13th century when the archbishop handed over plots with houses for rental to merchants and traders. The plots, known as burgage plots, were on Boroughgate, Walkergate and Kirkgate. Commercial trading began in earnest in 1222 when King Henry III granted Otley a Royal Charter. The town ran two cattle markets. Early modern era Otley appears as a land of scattered farmsteads, with cattle farming, dairy and cereal production being the core of economic activity.
By the 15th century, farming had established itself as the key economic activity. By the 18th century, the wool industry had developed as a cottage industry. In the later period, a cotton mill and weaving shed were built. By the mid-19th century, the industry had employed 500 locals.
Otley also built a reputation of a paper-mill and printing centre. William Dawson and David Payne developed the Wharfdale Printing Machine and trade gained momentum around 1900.
Otley boasts some of the most fascinating buildings from medieval times. These include Otley Hall, High House, Church House and St Mary’s Church.
Otley Hall was built in the 15th century by John Gosnold. When his son became Lord of the Manor in 1543, the house assumed manorial status, undergoing major additions and extensions. It remained in the hands of the Gosnold’s until about 1668. Church House is thought to be from the post reformation period and St Mary’s Church was built in the 13th century and contains a memorial to John Gosnold. Today, in the 21st century, is a product to help you have a sound, peaceful sleep. This is the Hypnia memory foam range.
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