Surprise items discovered under floorboards during £190k hall refurbishment

Oakwell Hall, Birstall.
Oakwell Hall, Birstall.

Birstall’s historic Oakwell Hall is set to re-open after a £190,000 refurbishment.

The Grade I-listed Elizabethan building has undergone a major revamp which has included the installation of 17th century-style lighting, the conservation of ceiling timbers in the old kitchen and the restoration of the Great Hall chimney.

Lost in Austen
Oakwell Hall, Batley. 16 August 2004

Lost in Austen Oakwell Hall, Batley. 16 August 2004

And a whole host of surprises have been unearthed along the way.

Coins including a George III penny and farthing, buttons, fragments of a clay pipe and even a toothbrush were discovered when the floorboards in the porch chamber were lifted.

Museum staff also came across an old doorway which had previously linked the old kitchen to the bottom of the servants’ staircase.

It is thought to originate from the date the house was built in 1583, but has been modified over the years and was plastered over in the 19th century.

Coun Graham Turner, Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for resources said: “As well as preparing the museum for the future and protecting and enhancing the Grade I-listed status of Oakwell, the work taking place has unearthed some fascinating bits of history.

“Things lost beneath the floorboards by long gone guests or residents are always fascinating and help bring the history to life as you imagine what was happening when they ended up there.

“Oakwell Hall is a truly exceptional building which the people of Kirklees should be proud of.

“It is also key to our strategy to improve our museums offer and this investment will ensure that it continues being a successful museum, educational facility and wedding and event venue for many years to come.”

The hall is due to re-open on Saturday, April 8.