Credits: David Hoyle
This is probably one of the
most frequently asked questions in the village of Cowling....'when & why was
the pinnacle built?'
Opinions are varied, but we
have tried to research a little into this area and the following excerpts
from local papers in the late 1950's may help to throw some light on this
Craven Herald - February 21st 1958
CRAVEN MONUMENT OF MYSTERY - Conflicting theories at Cowling
Conflicting ideas are held as to the purpose
and date of Wainman Monument, standing gaunt and aloof on the heights of
Earl Crag, Cowling. Many people believe it was built before the first World
War to serve as a landmark for aeroplanes. There is no truth in this theory.
It is certainly an imposing and easily distinguishable structure, and would
no doubt be suitable for this purpose.
Nevertheless it is certain that on the site of the present Cowling pinnacle
stood a structure which dated back to the Napoleonic Wars and possibly to
the Civil War. This was wrecked by lightning and became an eye-sore. It was
eventually pulled down and rebuilt about 1900.
The Wainman's who for centuries were the owners of Carr Head Hall, Cowling,
an elegant building set in acres of woodland, do not actually own the land
upon which the pinnacle stands, but for many years before the ownership of
the hallchanged, they rented the land at a cost of one shilling per annum.
This old custom is still maintained by the present owner of the mansion, Mr.
H. Bannister. According to the late Mr. Philip Fisher, whose family were
stewards to the Wainman's for many generations, the pinnacle was built to
commemorate Wellington's victory at Waterloo in 1815. Others contend that it
dates back to the 17th century, when Lady Amcotts, of Cowling built it to
commemorate the return of her husband from the Civil War.
The New Cowling Pinnacle stands like a sentinel at the very peak of
the bluff known as Earl Crag, and dominates the countryside for miles
around. About 30ft. high, it can be seen on a clear day from Beamsley
Beacon. Some would-be historians claim that the structure has been used for
a beacon to warn the local inhabitants of marauding Scots, but there is a
great deal of doubt about this. One argument put forward is that a beacon
would not be seen on the south side, because the moors behind rise to a
height of around 1,500 feet, whereas the monument stands at an elevation of
only 1,175 feet.
Mr. J. Keighley Snowden, in 1891, wrote a novel about Cowling which he
called 'The Web of an Old Weaver.' He referred to Cowling as 'Cragside' and
described the pinnacle as 'Hardacre' Monument, and the ground to the back of
it as Hardacre Park, Hardacre being presumably a fictitious name for
Mr. Snowden referred to the village parson, George Bayldon, who was Vicar of
Cowling for 40 years, and whose work is now commemorated by a plaque in
Cowling Parish Church. The Bay Horse Hotel, headquarters of the Pinnacle
Lodge of the R.A.O.B,. was named the Angel in the book, and was described as
a coach station for the Colne road, shortly after the new road over Reedshaw
Moss was built on piles sunk into the bog.
The old road originally went over the high ground, through what was formerly
known as Cowling, which is now a small community now known as Cowling Hill.
This was then the main village, comprising a number of houses, now mostly in
ruins, an inn (now non-existent), and a Baptist Chapel, which still
Mr. Snowden describes an imaginary Kildwick murder. To escape the
penalty the murderer hides in a vally which is known by two names, the Robin
Hood and the Lumb Valley. At the top of this valley, near the 40ft. enscade
known as Lumb Waterfall, he secretes himself for several weeks.
Many strange rumors still circulate about earl Crag and Cowling moors. The
Hitchingstone, a huge boulder, the size of a house, is supposed to have been
a Druid's worshipping place, although anyone who is acqainted with the
terrain surrounding it, bogs and potholes, would be led to think that the
druid's were an exceptionally hardy fraternity. Many people have made
arduous journeys to the rock, to search for a witch's broomstick which is
supposed to be on a secret ledge, but although the search has so far been in
vain, they have been rewarded by seeing Viscount Snowden's initials carved
in the cave.
Philip Snowden, Cowling's most famous son, was born in Middleton, a tiny
village about a half-mile away from the main community , and though all his
life he fought a battle against ill-health, he loved to ramble on the moors
where his ashes are now scattered. He would astonish his schoolfellows by
standing on a wall and giving long speeches on politics.
Cowling, today, has not anything like the importance that it
enjoyed in the days when, with a population of 2,500 in 1841, which has now
dwindled to 1,650, it was the largest community for miles - larger than
Barnoldswick or Silsden - and an important weaving town when Crosshills was
a group of thatched cottages.
Some say that today the village is slowly dying. "The six mills in the
village are prosperous now, but one can see the day, not so far distant,
when Cowling might share the fate of Cowlaughton, once a village on
Ickornshaw moor, and now dwindled to a solitary farm," one resident told a
Craven Herald and Pioneer reporter. But that may have been sheer pessimism
or just a reaction to the cold weather.
Craven Herald - February/March 1958
STRANGE COWLING MONUMENT
Mr. R. Tottie on the trail
Regarding the article headed "Craven Monument
of Mystery," in the Craven Herald and Pioneer for February 21, Mr. R. Tottie,
of Coniston Hall, Coniston Cold, has information on the subject. The Wenman,
Waynman, or Wainman family of Cowling, originated in Witney, centre of the
West of England wool trade.
From there they moved to Draughton in 1610, where they carried on the sheep
breeding that they had done in Oxfordshire. They went to Carhead Hall,
Cowling, in 1614, and lived there for over 300 years.
Even with all this wealth of information it is still not clear what the
original purpose of the pinnacle was. Mr. Tottie says the correction
appellation of the monument is "Wainman's Folly," and says that it was
probably built as a landmark for shepherds and travellers who often lost
their way on the moor. He did not mention when Carhead itself was built, but
it is certainly one of the most beautiful halls in Craven.
Craven Herald - 28th March 1958
LIGHT ON COWLING PINNACLE
The Wainmans and time of Waterloo
The following letter throwing more light on
the origin of Cowling Pinnacle has been received from Dr. Norman Davy, of
the University of Nottingham. Dr. Davy who is a native of Cross Hills takes
a keen interest in matters antiquarian and historic of his native district.
Dr. Davy writes:
In the considered judgement of most folk in Cowling, Glusburn, Cross Hills
and Sutton, there is not now any conflict about the origin of Cowling
The article in the Craven Herald and Pioneer, February 21 last, mentioned
the decisive evidence, that of the late Mr. Philip Fisher, to the effect
that the Pinnacle was erected by Mr. Wainman, of Carrhead, strongly urged
thereto by his wife, to commemorate the victory of Waterloo over Napoleon.
As steward of the Wainman estates, and as the son and grandson of former
stewards, Mr. Fisher occupied a unique position, and must be accepted as a
witness of the highest authority. His statement makes the date 1815 or 1816.
The former rival theory seems to be based on a passage on page 206 of Johnny
Gray's (H.Speight's) book, 'Through Airedale from Goole to Malham,' 1891.
This runs, 'Various reasons are assigned for the origin of this famous
landmark, but the most likely one is that it was erected by Lady Amcotts,
the young wife of one of the Wainmans, in memory of her husband who fell in
the Royal cause during the Civil Wars.'
Let the reader consider the following evidence. On Monday, May 29, 1809, by
special license, Richard Bradley Wainman married Amelia Theresa, widow of
Sir Wharton Amcotts, Bart, of Kettlethorpe, Lincs. R. B. Wainman was born on
March 23, 1783, and died on September 24, 1842. LAdy Amcotts was originally
Amelia Theresa Campell, daughter of Captain Duncan Campbell, R.N., of
Whitley Bay, Northumberland. She was born about the year 1780 and died on
July 11, 1833. By Sir Wharton she had one daughter, Sophia Louisa Emerson
Amcotts, born January 16, 1804, who married Matthew Wilson of Eshton Hall,
on June 15, 1826. By R. B. Wainman she had one son, William Bradley Wainman,
born February 29, 1812, died January 17, 1872.
Thus on June 18, 1815, R. B. Wainman was 32 years of age. He did not fight
at Waterloo. He was a major of cavalry, on the home front only, in the
second formation of the Craven Legion, or First West Riding Regiment,
consisting of 200 men arranged in five troops. Lady Amcotts, or Mrs.
Wainman, had one brother, Edward Hall Campbell, but he was a brewer in
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and it does not appear that he fought against Napoleon
There is no evidence that any near relative of Mr. and Mrs. Wainman took
part in active service. There is some evidence that the Craven Legion
endured some military training on the Northumbrian coast, and the couple may
have met there. The above represents the only entry of the name Amcotts into
local history, and no such name occurs in the Civil War period, 1642-1648.
Rylstone Cross, also put up to commemorate Waterloo, bears the date 1815 in
large and clear figures.
If you think your readers would be interested I can furnish many particulars
about (1) the repair of the Pinnacle in 1900 and (2) the expenses, including
a meal at the Cross Hills White Bear, of Lady Amcotts funeral in 1833.