Micklefield House, Rawdon: History

Micklefield House, Rawdon:  A Victorian Grade 2 Listed House

The History

Micklefield House has a varied and interesting history.  According to English Heritage the first reference to Micklefield House was in 1616, but this building was replaced by a new house in 1662, and the house was rebuilt again in 1847, then extended in 1872.

In Victorian times many wealthy Bradford textile manufacturers lived in Rawdon following the opening of a station at Apperley Bridge in 1846.   John Venimore Godwin, Mayor of Bradford

(1864-5) rented the house in the 1860s.  He was a successful Bradford stuff (mixed worsteds) merchant and keen early photographer and we have him to thank for a handful of evocative pictures of his family and home.  There must be others as he was a founder of the Bradford Photographic Society – we should very much like to have copies of any others that still exist.

The family of John Venimore Godwin at Micklefield House. On the left is John Arthur who went on to become the first Lord Mayor of Bradford in 1907.

John V’s father, Benjamin Godwin, lived in the 1662 house on the right in his retirement.  He was a Baptist Minister and important in the anti-slavery campaign of the 1830s that resulted in the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.  He was also involved in the setting up of the Liberal Bradford Observer newspaper in 1834.

In 1930 the house was bought by Rawdon Urban District Council as council offices, then becoming the headquarters of Aireborough Urban District Council in 1937 and eventually Leeds City Council in 1974 when Aireborough became part of Leeds.

The old photographs are from the website of the Aireborough Historical Society. Link:


2014 Victorian Society Heritage Visit


1906 O.S. Map Showing Micklefield House & Grounds

The Future

Since 1974 Micklefield House has been offices for various Leeds City Council departments – and provided local employment.  With the centralising of Leeds Council services at Merrion House it is now to be sold and will probably be converted into apartments.  This means that it could be empty and vulnerable to vandalism and theft whilst planning permission is obtained and a conversion can take place.  We are all aware of severe damage to important heritage buildings throughout Leeds when they have become empty, e.g. Chapel Allerton Hospital, Meanwood Hall, High Royds Hospital, Cookridge Hospital etc.  It is, unfortunately, a national problem that appears to be ignored at present. Aireborough Civic Society did oppose the sale, but is now working with councillors and  has met with officers to try and ensure that the building will be occupied at all times until work commences.

Update January 2020:  Leeds CC agreed to keep an office presence at Micklefield House when most departments had moved out and this was successful.   Unfortunately the Estates Department who were responsible for the building failed to take adequate security measures when the building became empty in November 2019, despite our warnings of the risk of vandalism.

In December vandals broke 20 windows, gained access and smashed important, irreplaceable Stained Glass windows inside the house.   The house has now been boarded up and hopefully security will prevent further damage.

Timeline of History of Micklefield House

1616   First reference to house on the site.

1662   New house built by David Marshall: sundial dated 1691, initials ‘M.A.M.’

1800   William Leavens (1747 – 1818) lived there.

1847   Rebuilt by William White (nephew of above) Date stone above doorway.  Architect: John Tertius Fairbank (also built Heaton Mount, Bradford).

1863   Estate auctioned in lots by White.  Purchased by William Kutter of   Buckstone Cottage.

1860s – 1870 John Venimore Godwin, Mayor of Bradford lived there (before moving to and rebuilding Crowtrees).

1871   Thomas Arton, Bradford stuff merchant bought house. Arton was a             councillor for Rawdon in the 1880s.

1872   extension to west (coat of arms on south gable).  Stable block has date stone 1872 with initials T & HA.

1911   William Denby Arton son living in house.

1918   George Donald Crossthwaite

1920   John Arthur Rhodes

1930   Purchased by Rawdon Urban District Council for £4,500 from John Rhodes of Spring Head Mill, Guiseley.

1937  Headquarters of Aireborough U.D.C. following union with Guiseley and Yeadon.

1962   Rawdon Library built in the grounds – HQ for Aireborough libraries.  Extension for local history library.

1974 Became offices of Leeds City Council with breaking up of the former West Riding with Aireborough becoming part of Leeds Metropolitan District.