One mile north west of the former textile mill know as Salts Mill high on the northern slope of the Air valley stands an overgrown woodland strewn with carved stones that litter the undergrowth. Brushing away the moss and dead leaves, a delicate mosaic floor reveals fragments to a bye gone era and the lost country house once known as Milner Field.
Milner Field was designed by the Architect Tomas Harris. This grand home was designed and built for Titus Salt Junior and built in a Gothic style with no expense spared as a statement of wealth and power. For eighteen years Milner House was at the heart of West Yorkshire high society with the ultimate accolade of two royal visits in 1882 and 1887.
Shortly after the last royal visit, the first of several shadows was to fall over the house with Titus Salt Junior dying at the age of 44. Titus Salt Junior was found by his wife Catherine collapsed on the floor in the Snooker Room. Doctor Ellis was called but when the doctor arrived, Titus was pronounced dead.
A year after Titus Salt Junior’s death, his widow Catherine Salt turned to her brother Hennery Crosley for financial help and the house and estate were mortgaged to him. In 1903 James Roberts purchased Milner field and the estate and moved into the mansion with his family and wife Elizabeth. The Roberts family experienced misfortune with the death of two sons. In 1924 what was left of the Roberts family left Milner Field and despite many attempts to sell the Milner Field mansion and its estate, it was a full year until Milner field would see it’s next owner Ernest Gates. The Gates family moved into the house in the summer of 1923.
On the 29th of October 1923 Ernest’s sick wife Eva Gates died in Milner Field. Ernest continued to live at Milner Field for the next 18 months until on the 1st of April 1925 he died from Septicaemia. Many rumours of the cause of Ernest’s death started to circulate amongst the locals with associated stories relating to his death becoming folk law linked to the previous deaths and ill luck dogging the occupants of Milner Field.
The final family to move into Milner Field were the Hollins Family with Arthur Remington Hollins becoming the successor to the house and estate after the former Gates and Salts families. Soon after moving in to Milner Field, Mrs Hollins caught pneumonia and from the complications died on the 26th of January 1926. After the death of Arthur’s wife Anne, Arthur and his sons continued to live at Milner Field, until a summer holiday in 1929 when Arthur was taken ill with unstoppable hiccoughs with his eventual death being recorded as dying from gall-bladder and liver complications.
By 1930 the remaining Hollins family left Milner Field and moved to Ilkley. With the associated stories and misfortune surrounding Milner House, the mansion and its estate became a white elephant and decidedly unattractive to potential buyers and once again failed to sell. Throughout the 1930’s the house remained empty and neglected and with the arrival of the second world war some of Milner Fields resources were used as part of the war effort in terms of using iron and building materials resulting in the house falling into decline and decay until it was demolished sometime in the early 1950s.
I personally have been fascinated with the History of Titus Salt and Salts Mill and only recently learned about Milner Field and learning about a book on it’s history. After searching high and low for a book called “ Milner Field, The Lost Country House of Titus salt Jnr, by Richard Lee-Van den Daele & R David Beale ISBN 978-0-9569380-0-8 I have eventually found a copy, the book it is well worth reading as it provides both photographs of the house and its owners and far more information for anyone interested in the subject.
The aim of this blog was to shed a little light on the tragic story of the house built on huge wealth and its history and the mansions misfortune. Although Milner Field was demolished in the 1950’s if you visit the densely overgrown location today, you will find many remnants and clues to the former grandeur of Milner Field, see maps below.