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Dumb Steeple

An early 1900's hand coloured postcard showing the Dumb Steeple in it's original position on the island in the middle of the road. It was moved over to the side of the road when the junction was altered in the 1980's.

At the junction of Leeds Road and the old Brighouse-Elland Turn Pike, stands a 26ft stepped stone column topped with a ball, known  locally as the "Dumb Steeple". Constructed from local stone the column bears neither inscription nor markings of any kind.
The column is thought to date from the early 1700's and could well have replaced a previous monument on the site. The meaning of the name and its purpose have long been forgotten, but here are some of the more common theories:
The "steeple" part of the name suggests a religious connection and the proximity to the old Kirklees Priory could give this some credence, alternatively it may just refer to its shape. The "dumb" part of the name is even more puzzling. If we follow a religious theme it could be a corruption of "Domini", latin for "Lord's", making it the "Lord's Steeple" (Domini Stapulus). Alternatively, it could be a corruption of "Doomed Steeple"; doomed being a reference to King Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries that closed the nearby priory.

On a lighter note local parents when asked by their children why its called dumb, would often respond "because it says nowt!" My favourite theory is that it is a shortening of "dumb mans steeple" being a reference to the role it played in the Luddite rebellion. This theory is supported by the fact that prior to the Luddites the monument is referred to as the "Obelisk". The large house that stood close by being Obelisk Grove and the turnpike the monument stands at is often  referred to as the "Brighouse Obelisk Turnpike Road".  

Regardless of the Dumb Steeple's involvement with the Luddites it was already there before those troubled times, so what was its purpose? Well one theory suggests that it may originally have been the site of a Roman route marker. Another that it was a medieval guide post to the cattle crossing at Cow Ford, now the location of Cooper Bridge. And yet another theory is that it was a boundary marker for land owned by the priory and under the protectorate of the church.

Dumb steeple 1900

A large house known as Obelisk Grove stood in the grounds behind the Dumb Steeple in the picture above.

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