Search for your ideal home

Location keyworld/postcode
Property type
Minimum beds

Get notified of property updates


Letting Agents in Ilkley - About Ilkley

The earliest evidence of habitation in the Ilkley area are flint arrowheads or microliths, dating to the Mesolithic period, from about 11,000 BC onwards.The area around Ilkley has been continuously settled since at least the early Bronze Age, around 1800 BC; more than 250 cup and ring markings, and swastika carvings dating to the period have been found on rock outcrops, and archaeological remains of dwellings are found on the moor. Letting agents in Ilkley now have a wider choice of dwellings to choose from, and tenants are glad to be living in an area so rich with history.

A druidical stone circle, the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, was constructed 2000 years ago. The Romans built Olicana, a fort in AD 79 on a site now near the centre of the town. It is now covered partly by an Elizabethan Manor House (now an art gallery and museum) and by All Saints' Church. A part of the fort's wall is visible. (Outside the Manor House in Ilkley it clearly states that the location of Olicana was unknown.)

Three Anglo-Saxon crosses formerly in the churchyard of All Saints, but now removed into the church to prevent erosion, date to the 8th century. The site of All Saints church as a centre for Christian worship extends back to 627 AD, and the present mainly Victorian era church incorporated medieval elements.

In the Domesday Book, dating to 1086, Ilkley (Ilecliue/Illecliue/Illiclei/Illicleia) is listed as being in the possession of William de Percy 1st Baron Percy. The land was acquired by the Middelton family of Myddelton Lodge, from about a century after the time of William the Conqueror. The family lost possession through a series of land sales and mortgage repossessions throughout a period of about a hundred years from the early nineteenth century, letting agents of William Middelton (1815-1885) design the new town of Ilkley to replace the mean village which had stood there before.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the town gained a reputation for the efficacy of its water. In the 19th century it became established as a fashionable spa town, with the construction a mile to the east of the town, at Wheatley, of the vast Ben Rhydding Hydro or Hydropathic Establishment between 1843 and 1844. Tourists flocked here to 'take the waters' and bathe in the cold water spring. Wheatley today is called Ben Rhydding after the Hydro (since demolished).

Development based on the Hydro movement, and upon the establishment of a number of convalescent homes and hospitals, was accelerated by the establishment of a railway connection from Leeds and Bradford in 1865. Charles Darwin underwent hydropathic treatment at Wells House when his 'The Origin of Species' was published in November 1859, staying with his family at the nearby North View House (now Hillside Court). Other Victorian visitors to the town include Madame Tussaud. Today, the only remaining Hydro is the white cottage known as White Wells House, which can be seen and visited on the edge of the moor over-looking the town.

In the 20th century Ilkley has become a very wealthy dormitory town for the nearby cities of Leeds and Bradford. As letting agents in Ilkley, Easy Location Lets have a fine selection of period properties to offer prospective tenants.

T. S. Eliot in 1916 delivered six extension lectures in Ilkley, on the theme of modern French literature. He considered Wensleydale to be the 'Mozart of cheeses'.

Between the 5 and 17 August 1923, philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner delivered a series of fourteen lectures at Ilkley which were published as A Modern Art of Education. They provided a comprehensive overview of Waldorf education. In his report of the event, which embodies the language of his distinctive philosophical approach, he commented on the town's archaeological heritage:

"in the remains of dolmens and old Druidic altars lying around everywhere, [Ilkley] has traces of something that reminds one of the ancient spirituality that has, however, no successors. It is most moving to have on the one hand the impression [of the industrialism] I just described and then, on the other, to climb a hill in this region so filled with the effects of those impressions and then find in those very characteristic places the remains of ancient sacrificial altars marked with appropriate signs".

In 1967 Jimi Hendrix played at the Troutbeck Hotel (now a nursing home). However the show was cut short by the police. The local newspaper headline read: Pop Fans Ran Amok in Hotel: They ripped off doors, pulled out electrical fittings and smashed furniture before the owners let the agents of the law on stage and stopped Hendrix half-way through a number.

1973 saw the start of the annual Ilkley Literature Festival, the largest in the North of England. W. H. Auden gave his last English reading there in 1973.


The lowest unit of local government is Ilkley Parish Council. The parish consists of four wards and 14 councillors: Ilkley North (3 councillors), Ilkley South (3), Ilkley West (4) and Ben Rhydding (4). The council raises a precept which is collected with the annual Council Tax to fund its running and to aid the development of local projects. The parish is a ward within the metropolitan borough of Bradford and is represented by three Conservative councillors.

Ilkley is part of the Keighley UK Parliament constituency whose seat is held by Ann Cryer, Labour MP. She was first elected in the General Election of 1997, and her late husband Bob Cryer had held the seat 1974-1983. Ilkley is in the Yorkshire and the Humber European constituency.

Since 1969 Ilkley has been twinned with Coutances in France.

Before 1974 Ilkley had been an urban district. Ilkley Urban District Council shared local government responsibilities with the West Riding County Council. The Local Government Act 1972 dissolved urban districts and in 1974 Ilkley adopted its current status as a ward of the metropolitan borough of Bradford. Services provided by the urban district council are now run centrally by Bradford City Council.

Until 2006 Ilkley civil parish consisted of Ilkley ward and the north half of Rombalds ward. The latter ward housed the villages of Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston. The population of the parish in 2001 was therefore considerably higher than it is today, consisting of 24,954 residents. In 2006 Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston established their own parishes and today Ilkley consists only of the Ilkley ward (13,828 residents).


The town is 700 feet above sea level and lies in a wide valley with the River Wharfe and pastoral farmland to the north, and Rombalds Moor, a bracken and heather moorland with rocky outcrops, to the south.

The river runs through the north extent of the town from west to east, and is crossed by four bridges, in order: a 16th century three-arched stone bridge, now closed to road traffic; a 19th century single-span wrought-iron bridge; a suspension bridge for foot traffic only (a set of concrete stepping stones) and a prefabricated steel arched box-girder bridge. The river is prone to flooding the sports fields (and a few houses) that occupy the watermeadows.

Nearby are the North Yorkshire hamlets of Middleton (1 mile), Denton (2.7) and Bolton Abbey (6); the villages of Addingham (3.1), Burley-in-Wharfedale (3.8) and Menston (5.4); and the towns of Guiseley (7.6) and Skipton (9.4).

The town is within the travel-to-work radius of Leeds and Bradford, Leeds being 18 miles away and Bradford 15.6 by road, with a railway connection offering about 35 trains to each destination per day from Ilkley station. The railway, before the Beeching axe, also connected to Addingham, Bolton Abbey, and Skipton to the west, and to Otley, Pool-in-Wharfedale, meeting the main Leeds to Harrogate line at Arthington.


A person from Ilkley is called an Olicanian which is derived from Olicana, thought to be the name of the Roman fort Ilkley is built upon (Ptolemy writing in Greek gives Olikana in his Geographia c. AD 150). The ethnic make-up of Ilkley's population is 98.02% White, 0.74% mixed, 0.72% Asian, 0.37% Chinese or other ethnic group and 0.14% Black. The largest age group is 45 to 64-year olds (26.76%).[8]


Ilkley has little by way of industry or commerce but employers include The Woolmark Company, Spooner Industries and NG Bailey.

Culture and attractions

Bronze Age markings at Hangingstone Quarry, above Ilkley.

Ilkley town centre is a tourist attraction with a high proliferation of small independent shops, hairdressers, coffee shops, estate agents and letting agents. Of particular note is Lishmans of Ilkley, an award-winning butcher shop whose owner, David Lishman, became one of Rick Stein's superheroes in 2003. Ilkley is one of five towns to feature Yorkshire's Bettys tearooms. The town is also home to the Michelin-starred Box Tree restaurant where Marco Pierre White trained. In 2004 Ilkley won the Britain in Bloom contest in the category of 'Town'.

The Manor House, one of the town's oldest buildings, houses a museum and art gallery. The museum contains prehistoric artifacts and documents the Roman fort of Olicana - remains of which are exposed at the back of the building - as well as the rise of Ilkley as a Victorian spa town. The Ilkley Toy Museum has a collection of toys dating from 350BC and contains a particularly fine collection of English wooden dolls.

Ilkley is home to the largest and oldest literary festival in the north of England, the Ilkley Literature Festival. The annual Moor Music Festival also takes place just outside the town at Addingham Moorside, promoting green politics and social issues.

Ilkley's rural surroundings attract walkers and cyclists to the area. The landmark Cow and Calf rocks, which overlook the town on Ilkley Moor, consist of a large outcrop, which allegedly imitates a cow, and a boulder, which imitates a calf. The site is also visited for its rock climbing routes.

The Swastika Stone, a rock carving on which opinions on dating vary (from 3-4,000 years old to about 2,000 years old), is another attraction on the moor. Many theories have been proposed to explain its significance and origin including a desputed claim by children's author Terry Deary who suggested the carving depicts a boomerang. The Old Bridge just outside the town centre is the official start to the Dales Way, an 80-mile (129 km) walk through the dales to Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District.

Ilkley's Lido, constructed in 1935, is one of only four remaining public open-air swimming pools in Yorkshire and is a tourist attraction during the summer holiday season. Darwin Gardens, to the south of the town, is a Millennium Green which commemorates the town's links with English naturalist Charles Darwin. The Green features a maze, whose design was influenced by the Swastika Stone carving, and includes monuments with an evolutionary theme.

The Ilkley Gazette is the town's weekly newspaper.


A free school was first established in Ilkley by a Mr Marshall who in 1608 bequeathed £100 for its endowment. Current schools are:

  • All Saints C of E Primary School (primary)
  • Ashlands Primary School (primary)
  • Ben Rhydding Primary School (primary)
  • Moorfield School for Girls (preparatory)
  • Ilkley Grammar School (secondary)
  • The Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Ben Rhydding (primary)
  • Westville House School, Middleton (preparatory)


According to Census 2001, 75.64% of Ilkley residents are Christian. The second largest group are people with no religion who account for 15.53% of residents. 7.48% did not state their religion and 1.34% fall into a variety of other religious groups.

Places of worship

  • All Saints Parish Church* (Anglican)
  • Ben Rhydding Methodist Church* (Methodist)
  • Christchurch* (Methodist/United Reformed)
  • Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science)
  • Ilkley Baptist Church* (Baptist)
  • Kingdom Hall, Ilkley (Jehovah's Witnesses)
  • St John's Parish Church, Ben Rhydding* (Anglican)
  • St Margaret's Church* (Anglo-Catholic)
  • The Church of the Sacred Heart* (Roman Catholic)
  • The Ilkley Society of Friends* (Quaker)

Churches marked with an asterisk(*) are members of Churches Together in Ilkley, an organisation which encourages co-operation amongst member churches.


On the moor are several mounds of rocks, or cairns. These are known as the skirtful cairns. The story has it that Rombald was a giant who lived on the moor. One day, his wife was angry at him and collected rocks to throw at him. She collected the rocks by holding up her skirt and dropping them into it. The skirt ripped and rocks fell out in piles, thus the name skirtful cairns.

Easy Location Ltd - Copyright © 2010 |Legal | Terms & Conditions | Sitemap

Web Design - Rejuvenate Digital Agency

Letting Agents Ilkley - Letting Agents Otley - Letting Agents Guiseley - Letting Agents Skipton - Letting Agents Rawdon - Letting Agents Leeds - Letting Agents Bradford
Letting Agents Menston - Letting Agents Burley in Wharfedale - Letting Agents Ben Rhydding - Letting Agents Yeadon - Letting Agents Cookridge
Letting Agents Pool in Wharfedale - Letting Agents Keighley - Letting Agents Craven