Penistone Notes

Brief overview

The meaning of Penistone is Old English tun “farm, village” and possibly the Celtic penn meaning hill. In 1066 Penistone was owned by Ailric. After the Norman Conquest it was razed to the ground in 1069 in the Harrying of the North; the Domesday Book described the settlement in 1086 as “waste”. There’s evidence that Christianity Came to Penistone well over a thousand years ago. St. John’s Church has the remains of a Saxon cross and was no doubt built in wood before being rebuilt in stone during medieval times and becoming the chief centre for Christian worship, education and society in Penistone. Several pre-19th Century buildings still survive, the oldest being the medieval parish church, Saint John the Baptist.

Penistone is now a small market town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, with a population of around 25000. It is about 14 miles north-west of Sheffield and lies in the foothills of the Pennine hills. The surrounding countryside is predominantly rural with farming on rich well-watered soil on mainly gentle slopes rising to the bleak moorland to the west of the town. Dry stone walls, small hamlets and farms surrounded by fields and livestock are synonymous with the area. Sheep sales have been held in the town since before 1699, when the market received a royal charter.

The township was in the county of the West Riding of Yorkshire, England until the description “Ridings” was, in my opinion, misguidedly dropped in 1974 in favour of four conventional county names. The term ‘riding’ is of Viking origin and derives from Threthingr meaning a third part. Until 1974 there were indeed three ridings in Yorkshire: the East Riding, West Riding and North Riding.

The Manchester Railway line via Penistone, Dunford Bridge and the three-mile Woodhead Tunnel opened in 1845 and the line to Huddersfield in 1850 and Penistone became a railway junction. The former line is now closed and the later continues as The Penistone Line.

Penistone Grammar School was founded in 1392. Notable former pupils include the blind mathematician Nicholas Saunderson. In 2011 most of the old school was demolished, a new school was built and opened in 2011.



Map from ‘A Further History of Penistone’ by members of the W.E.A. History Group p.3. showing the many farms in the area some of which have been occupied by Coldwell families.


Some notes of Coldwell families in the Penistone region


Penistone Quakers


Located at Judfield, Penistone. A previous Coldwell residence, see:

John Coldwell born about 1625













Penistone Almanac 1948 Advert R P Coldwell, Auctioneer, see

Robert Padley Coldwell















From ‘A Further History of Penistone’ by members of the W.E.A. History Group p.72.

The Gravels farmstead (Cubley, Penistone) was rebuilt in 1708 by Gregory Wordsworth the owner, he became
possessed of it by his marriage to Ann, widow of John Coldwell in 1688. The place was
again rebuilt in 1847 and a stone from the old building was placed in the barn with:

                           G.A.W. 1704    (Gregory and Ann Wordsworth)

In 1994 the old barn at the Gravels farm was taken over for use as the “Child’s Play Day Nursery” for children 0 to 11 years old.


From History of Penistone by John N. Dransfield 1906, p.56

Thurgoland Volunteers: Thurgoland sent one officer and fourteen rank and file to swell the ranks of those who marched to Hemsworth on the night of August 15th, 1805. These were Captain James Bland and ….Joseph Coldwell….


From “A History of Penistone and District” by David Hey 2002 by Wharncliffe Books of Barnsley p.64

Petition in support of establishing a market in Penistone, 24 August 1699. Long list of names including:

Couldwell John; Couldwell Joseph; Couldwell William; Couldwell William.


From “A History of Penistone and District” by David Hey 2002 by Wharncliffe Books of Barnsley p.85

circa 1672.. Adam Eyre lent religious books and pamphlets to members of the….Coldwell…. families who lived in various parts of the township of Thurlstone…. (the note refers to non-conformity and dissent in the Angican church at that time)


Bullhouse Chapel
Bullhouse Colliery








From “A History of Penistone and District” by David Hey 2002 by Wharncliffe Books of Barnsley p.152

Bullhouse Colliery and some of the smaller pits were owned and managed by John Hinchcliffe of Bullhouse Hall…. A report on the number of boys between the ages of thirteen and sixteen who were employed in Hinchcliffe’s pits in 1877 agrees with the census returns…Their surnames were the familiar local ones of…Coldwell…

Many of the workers would have attended Bullhouse Chapel.





PGS Fulford Building
Penistone Grammar School founded 1392 where David Hey and I were at school 1948 -1955. Sadly David died 2016.