History of Clayton
CLAYTON IN HISTORY
By Ivy Holgate.
The people of Clayton share in the nation's rejoicings on the crowning of our Queen Elizabeth.
In the glorious, kaleidoscopic history of our land, our village has played no mean part for its tap root lies deep in the past; of this fact we are proud.
Almost a thousand years ago, with primitive ploughs, men worked the land on which now stands our village. The earliest evidence of this occupation is to be found in Domesday Book, for Claitone, as it is there spelt, was surveyed under the Manor of Bolton, to which it belonged as a berewick.
From certain place-names which exist today one may locate the site of the early township: Town Gate, Town End, and Town Bottom. Doubtless, those men of ancient days who founded the township were first attracted here by a copious spring of crystal-clear water springing from the hillside-a bounteous flow-promising a never failing supply for their homes, their fields and their cattle. This spring no doubt is the same we see today, pouring its waters into the stone troughs which were placed there centuries later for the needs of the long strings of packhorses taking the woven pieces of the inhabitants of the townships to the piece halls of Bradford and Halifax.
So the centuries passed and Clayton became a manor in its own right. From the Lacies, who held it at the time of the Domesday Survey, it passed into the family of Bolling and later, by marriage, to the Tempests. During the period that Clayton was held by the Tempests, parcels of land out of the commons were granted to certain families in exchange for small annual rents and for suite and service at the lord's mill and manor court.
In the course of time the people of Clayton became skilled in the making of cloth. During the 18th century many cottages were built and in each of them was a handloom. There were then several yeomen clothiers who employed all available local labour-the menfolk weaving and the women spinning at their wheels. Evidence of this lively craft remains today in the place-name "Tenter's Hill." On this piece of land the pieces and warps would be stretched over the tenterhooks to bleach in the sun.
The Clayton yeomen of old worshipped at the Old Bell Chapel at Thornton; there one may see their graves. Much of the history of Clayton is the history of the religious life of its people; when the Act of Uniformity was passed many worshipped God in a barn at Lidget or in the homes of friends.
In the early years of the Industrial Revolution the people of Clayton suffered terrible privations and hardships before they arrived at brighter days. There remains much evidence that the people who lived here before us were honest, industrious and God-fearing folk-loving the village as we do today.