The Barn
Ilkley Historical Facts

Ilkley Through The Ages – 6 Historial Facts

Our luxury holiday home is located just outside Ilkley in West Yorkshire.  There is much to see and do during your stay with us, but it makes sense to learn a little about your nearest town before venturing further afield.

The town dates back centuries but its popularity boomed during the Victorian era.  Ilkley is brimming with Victorian architecture and each building offers a brief glimpse into the past, but the history of the town dates back much further than one would expect.

We have put together a list of historical facts about Ilkley for you to peruse before you arrive.


6 Facts about Ilkley…


  1. You will find earliest evidence of life in the area, on Ilkley Moor. Although their purpose remains unknown, there are hundreds of stone carvings dating back to the Early Bronze Age.
  2. The Romans established a wooden fort in 80AD that lasted for 30 years before it burnt down. A stone fort was built in 161AD but the area wasn’t abandoned until the early 4th or late 5th  There are very few remains from ‘Olicana’ (The Roman name for Ilkley) but you can learn more about Ilkley’s Roman history at the Manor House.
  3. Much about life in the area after the departure of the Romans remains a mystery, but it is likely that a small village was established. The Anglo-Saxon settlement took place during the 7th century and sculpted Saxon crosses are evidence of a church in the area during the 8th and 9th
  4. The Domesday records of 1086 show that the Manor of Ilkley was under the ownership of William de Percy. Having arrived in England after the Norman Conquest, estates were granted to him by William the Conqueror. The town remained with his descendents for 200 years.
  5. Ilkley was little more than a small Hamlet for a considerable amount of time. Its popularity as a spa town during the 19th century, led to its expansion. Made more accessible after the arrival of the railway, the Victorian Middle Classes arrived in their thousands to enjoy the fresh country air.
  6. Charles Darwin arrived in Ilkley on 4th October 1859, to take the ‘water cure’ at Wells House. He reviewed proofs for ‘Origin of the Species’ during his stay and the book was published on the 24th Darwin remained in the town until 7th December.


We think this is a rather impressive history for a town of Ilkley’s size. Though, much of the historical evidence visible to tourists is of Victorian origin, the Manor House and adjacent All Saints Church both offer an abundance of information and some fascinating insights into the long history of the area. We strongly recommend paying them a visit during your stay at The Barn.

Do you have any photos of Ilkley that you would like to share with us? Email your images to and we will share them on our Facebook page.