“Scenes must be beautiful, which, daily seen,

Please daily; and whose novelty survives

Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years.”















Briggate engraving




Having spent a great part of the last twenty years in visiting scenes and places of antiquity, and studying different sciences, I find as I advance in years and the evening of life approaches, desires fail, and the mind seeks for that rest and calm so peculiarly  welcome  to  those  in  the decline of life.


When slow disease, with all its host of pains,

Chills the warm tide that flows along the veins.






Crag  Cottage,

March 20th, 1857.



Windhill, in Olden Time




WINDHILL took its name from a cottage built upon some rocks on the top of a hill, at the junction of the two valleys of Aire and Bradford; and being entirely unsheltered from the south west wind, attained the name of Windhill. * Crag Cottage is situate on Windhill Crag, in the west end of the township of Idle, in the parish of Calverley, and West-Riding of the County of York, three miles north of the town of Bradford, and bordering on the banks of the river Aire. Its name is derived from the mountainous and rocky part of the country, which is grand, romantic, and picturesque. A short distance from the Cottage is a fine range of projecting rocks hanging over the valley, which are fine specimens of matter and motion. You may perceive by the segments in the openings they were once joined together in a solid block. Sometimes pieces have detached from the rocks and rolled down the hill side some hundred tons in weight. A many years ago, it is said, an old hag or wise-woman predicted that a very large rock would roll down the hill on a certain day, consequently large numbers of people came to see it, but it stands firm and unmoved to the present day.


* Windhill formerly consisted of three or four houses; two of them had gates attached to them to prevent the cattle from straying off the common-one of them was kept by a lame person, and called Cripple Gate. The place has long since become a street, but still retains the name of Cripple Gate. As Windhill multiplied in buildings it became requisite to change the name of the house on the top of the hill to the name of the owner or occupier, which was Holt or Hoult, by which it is still called. Windhill has increased to a great number of streets, hundreds of dwellings, and thousands of inhabitants; but if you refer to the Holt or Hoult, you will find the original Windhill.





Windhill Crag in Olden Time



BEFORE the year 1810, Windhill Crag was waste land and covered with brambles. Large numbers of rabbits sported among the ferns and other shrubs;- the fox occasionally made a habitation about the rocks.- These rocks, I have no doubt, have been the temple and altar of the ancient Druids, for I find in them rock basins; these basins, which were always dispersed among their sacred works to receive the water that fell from heaven, which they used for ablutions, purifications, and other sacred purposes. There are openings in the rocks between which there is a passage, conjecturing that whoever passed through, acquired a kind of holiness, and became more acceptable to their gods. Also the cavity might be a sanctuary for offenders to fly to, but chiefly that such were intended and used for introducing Proselytes, or people under vows, on going to sacrifice, into their sublime mysteries. There are cavities in the rocks where Druids might have exercised every part of their religion; for these wonderful architects did not waste their unknown and astonishing powers, where nature had prepared the way. It is said to have been essential among them to worship in groves of oak, and with such this place is yet covered, so there was no want of the sacred mistletoe:


" Where the majestic oaks their branches spread,

And for the Druids formed a sacred shade."


Great alterations have taken place on Windhill Crag since the year 1510. The family of rabbits are fled away; sly reynard, the fox, dare not visit his old habitation; new dwellings have risen up, and with them a large population, amid the smoke of tall chimneys, and the sound of manufacturing industry.


And nature's face has often had a change

Since on these crags the ancient Druids ranged.






" And when the blood-fraught galliots of Rome

Brought the grand Druid fabric to its doom."


These ancient remains of Druidism were found in Windhill wood; they were collected and arranged as near the original as history describes; that is, the Altar, Archdruids’ Chair, and Mistletoe Table.


"There is presumed the mistletoe was laid,

while to their unknown gods the Druids prayed."


Druid is the name of the first religious Priest known in England; when it was inhabited by Britons, Celts, Gauls, and Germans, they were the first and most distinguished order in the island; chosen out of the beat families, and the honors of their birth procured for them the highest veneration. They had the administration of all sacred things; were the interpreters of the gods, and supreme judges in all eases, whether ecclesiastical or civil: from their determination there was no appeal, and whoever refused to acquiesce in their decision was reckoned impious. The Archdruid, or great High Priest assembled with them once a year, which was the time of reconciliation; after which, all envy, hatred, and malice were to cease, and then they had protection for the coming year, so that the evil demons could not blight hawthorn and other blossoms, or destroy their herbage. The wolf or furious boar could not destroy lambs; or foxes, their poultry. No witch's spell disorder their cattle, or atop their springs of water; or fairy climb the lofty oak and kill the sacred mistletoe. These ancient worshippers acknow­ledged obedience to their gods, and from them sought protection.


“Unlike the various priests of modern days­

So different that they teach a thousand ways ;

And tho' they boast superior knowledge given,

Who knows but Druids taught the way to heaven”


* See first engraving.





The tower of the ancient church was an observatory, but on the death of Sir Robert Peel, I erected a clock to his memory, commemorated by a tablet on the adjoining wall, bearing the following inscription:-- The clock in the adjoining tower was erected to the memory of Sir Robert Peel, by William Peel.


When this clock doth strike the hour,

Think of the price of meal and flour.

This clock is a singular piece of mechanism, to which are two dials, or faces, one having two hands or pointers shewing the minutes and hours of the day; the other has four hands or pointers, one shewing the day of the week, another the day of the month, a third the month of the year; the long hand shews the mean time, and tells if the clock be right. The bell belonging to this clock hangs on a tree outside the tower, and publishes the time of the day the distance of three miles. For on each hour that passes by it strikes and gives a tongue to time.


Time well employed is a most certain gain,

Ernest of pleasure, remedy far pain ;

The chief of blessings on its course attends,

Since  on its use  eternity depends.

The rustic building adjoining the ancient church, is the vicarage; part of the stone is from York Minster, and was given to me by a friend (being the debris of a late fire), upon which I have inscribed some historical records relating to the minster. The inscription over the door is the vicar's advice:-


" Follow truth and practise what is right,

You'll see in virtue God's eternal light."

On one side the door are Christ and his Apostles,  sculptured in stone, on the other, some distinguished authors. The rooms in the vicarage are furnished with ancient carved oak furni­ture, the work of ages past, whose original owners are long since reduced to dust. Among these ancient relics is a very antique reading desk, with an old bible chained to it; on the wooden back is a crucifix.  The book is very old and in a dilapidated state.


For in this rustic dwelling,

Where bye-past years have stored

What years have gone to gather

The antiquary's hoard.



* See first engraving.






This church was built after the plan of ancient Roman churches, with every privilege for performing that worship, -where people assembled


"At early morn upon the holy day,

To worship God, confess their sins, and pray;

Such were the days when churches were rebuilt,

Tho' days of darkness-not so great their guilt."


Above the tower of the Roman church is a windvane that turns an indicator on the outside of the tower, with the thirty two points of the compass marked on the dial.


* See first engraving.




Dining Room, Crag Cottage



In this room is the celebrated picture- "The Incredulity of Thomas," painted by Benjamin West, the American Quaker.  I have before published a description of it, and will now copy  part of my former observations.  To attempt a full description of the picture would be out of my power; I must therefore confine myself to a few observations, for it must be seen to be appreciated. The treating of the subject in designing the picture is wonderful: the condescending attitude of our Saviour, and the natural appearance of the wounds he is exhibiting, cannot fail to make a deep impression upon the mind of every beholder. The boldness of the figure of St. Peter is characteristic, while that of St. John is truly sublime, and his devotedness of character shines forth in his face. Upon the whole, the correctness in giving the characters of Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the scriptures, is most amazing. The correctness of the drawing, the fineness of the colouring, and the softness of the drapery, are beautiful. It is not too much to say, that the figures advance as near to perfection as can be conceived: the expression of the eyes exceeds all imagination; and the  animation of the figures is all that can be given, except life itself:  for you might look at the picture while it would be no great stretch of imagination to fancy yourself in the presence of Christ and his





Apostles. I will, therefore, now conclude with the following lines, spoken by the late JOHN NICHOLSON, the Airedale poet, on seeing the picture.


Great WEST!  like all, with death had to depart,

That mighty master of the painter’s art;

Such touches in his life his hand did give -

They want but breath to make the canvas live.


By the same, on seeing it a second time:-


The light, the shade, touched by the artist West,

Of the Creator - Saviour  of the blest -

Exceeds in splendour and in nature’s fire

All that the most fastidious can desire:

Tis nearly life, as perfect art can give:-

But greatest artists make not paintings live:

But He who died to raise us from the fall,

And rose again, He can give life to all.



Astronomical Room, Crag Cottage



This room contains mathematical, astronomical, and philosophical instruments some of them from the studio of the late Abraham Sharp, of Horton, the distinguished mechanic and mathematician; and much valued by their present owner, from their once having been the property of that great man. There are likewise a number of astronomical diagrams.  Also a number of telescopes, one made by Dolland  -  a refractor, and very achromatic.  The  following  lines  are  engraven  on the tube:­­


"Behold the lofty sky

Declares its maker, God;

And all His starry works on high,

Proclaim His power abroad."


A reflector, by Jones, having a speculum of seven inches, of great power.  Astronomy, of all the sciences, is most calculated to give exhalted conceptions of the omnipotent and omnipresent God, and of his unfathomable wisdom in every part of his wide empire of nature; for in viewing the celestial objects exhibited in the bright fields of astronomy, the mind must be led to adore the Almighty Creator,


Who bade the light her genial beams display,

And set the moon, and taught the sun his way.






Among the pictures at Crag Cottage is one painted by Anderson - the Death of Nicholson, the Airedale poet, who was found dead upon the banks of the river Aire, on the morning of Good Friday, April thirteenth, eighteen hundred and forty three:


" Aire ! thou didst win his fond regard­ -

Thy lovely glens - thy peerless daughters!

Alas ! that thy devoted bard

Should perish in thy treach'rous waters !


Or if, amid the desperate strife,

He stemm'd at last thy bounding wave,

Traitress! thou spar 'dst one spark of life,

And then a clay-cold death-bed gave.


A requiem sad thy night winds wove,

' Mid vernal foliage gay and green;

The stars of heaven which gleam'd above,

Sole witness of the mournful scene.


Prostrate in death's embrace ; alone,

There to the eye of opening day,

(The spirit to its giver flown),

The wreck of tuneful genius lay."
















Bradford:-Printed for William Peel by S. 0. Bailey, 1857.