The Brearley Plate

A plate apparently discovered by accident over 100 years ago cast a fascinating light on school life in the century before.

It related to the educational establishments run by the Rev John Fawcett — best known as founder of the Ebenezer Chapel, Hebden Bridge - at Brearley Hall and Ewood Hall, where young men were trained for service in the Baptist ministry.

According to the news story of the time, the plate was dug up in Halifax Road in 1897 and handed over to Dr Yeld, then living at Brearley Hall. It bore the following glowing inscription:

    "At Brearley Hall, in Midgley, near Halifax.
    A very pleasant and healthy situation.
    Youths are genteely boarded and trained up,
    With diligence and fidelity,
    And care in several branches
    Of literature necessary for
    Civil and active life
    By J. Fawcett and Assistants.
    Terms: Board and tutorage, if under 15 years of age, 15 per annum; If above, 16 guineas.
    Entrance: half a guinea and a pair of sheets.
    Washing 5 shillings a quarter.’’

The plate was made of copper and probably dated from before 1777, when the Rev Fawcett became minister at Ebenezer Chapel.

The discovery was brought to the attention of the local press by Mr John Longbottom, of Halifax, "who loved to root in antiquarian lore,’’ it was said.

It would be interesting to discover if the plate still exists — and why "a pair of sheets’’ was part of the fees!

From Milltown Memories, issue 2. If this or other stories stirs a memory, we'd be happy to know - send us your memories and comments.