Oakworth House

Oakworth House was an Italianate villa that stood in Oakworth, near Keighley, in the grounds of what is now known as Holden Park. The owner was Sir Isaac Holden, a wealthy industrialist who owned mills in both Bradford and in Croix, France. An older, much smaller house belonging to his second wife Sarah, was developed and added to.

Holden had many theories on healthy living and diet. The grand house had a Turkish bath house. It also had a vast winter garden, and separate glass houses for Orchids, figs, peaches, palms; the list goes on. The grounds were developed with extensive walks so that he and his guests could take exercise. Three reservoirs  were built to supply water to the hot houses; one of them was kept an a large  ornamental lake in the gardens. The houses had a complex heating and ventilation system which required two large furnaces.; the decorative chimneys for these can be seen behind the house.



When the house began it’s development in 1869, no expense was spared. The house has many bathrooms, all with silver fixtures. The interiors, influenced by French Chateaux he had visited, were all white plaster moldings and pale marble.

Isaac Holden died in 1897, at the age of 90. When the estate was split up and sold, no buyer could be found for the house. It stood empty for a number of years before burning down in 1909.

All that remains of Oakworth House is the stone portico and a network of stone paths, steps and mosaiced grottos.

13 Responses to “Oakworth House

  • Don’t mean to be a bore, but, being French and all that: a Chateau, several Chateaux.
    Great blog! (But I am far away from England shire, so no visiting them lovely places for me)

    • So sorry Edith! I stand corrected and slightly embarrassed.

  • The heating system reminds me of Ludwig and Neuschwanstein – he had a few quite advanced systems in that schloss – not sure if they were in his others…

    • I know it was very advanced for it’s time. I also know it didn’t work terribly well! A lovely idea though. It also had one of the first sprinkler systems. Ironic that it burnt down…

  • This building looks very much like our Government House,Victoria,Australia!My mother in law was born and raised in Keighley,both her parents were mill workers, Such a difference in the house of the workers to the mill owners!I am so glad you are giving these works of art immortality in your wonderful pictures.

    • I’ve just looked it up Anne. It does doesn’t it! It’s very incongruous with the rest of Keighley. Not a subtle display of wealth.

  • Like many wealthy, well travelled industrialists of that era, Holden’s architectural vision encompassed many new and advanced concepts in design. He was not alone – Cliffe Castle in Keighley also had turrets and hot houses for plants. There were also many other large mansions in the area – a lot of wealth!

    • I have appointment at Cliffe Castle on Thursday Jeanette. I’ve tracked down that photo of Oakworth House in the book i showed you. I’m trying to find more photos of Cliffe Castle’s glass houses; I know Holden and Butterfeild were great friends and thought the one may have inspired the other. I’d love to paint the winter gardens, but in lieu of a photograph, I am aiming for ‘intelligent guess work’!

      • Hi Kate,
        As you will probably be aware, Cliffe Castle is being restored and as such we have a lot of old photographs which could be of use to you.

        You can email me if you are interested.


  • I know it’s all in the past now, but the amount of money these mill owners had is just mind bogling. To actually build your own reservoir when at a time when the general public, the workers in his millstone, probably didn’t have running water!

  • I have a copy of the auction document when Oakworth House was put up for sale. You have described most of the house features but if you are interested in seeing or copying the document please contact me.

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