History
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History

Cottingley or Cottingelaia was named after the Cota or Cotta family and means meadows of the sons of Cota but long before the naming of the land, it was the site of a proud and ancient beginnings. Archaeological evaluations of nearby Bingley North Bog concluded that the land was of national importance for its near complete vegetation history from the Ice Age to the medieval period.

Documentary evidence of settlement can be found in the Domesday survey of 1086 but ownership of the manor never remained with one family. Past owners of the manor and district are Adam Asolf, Henry Wales, the Franke family, Bryan Bayles, Sir John Dependen, William Gasgoine, Richard Sunderland and Edward Ferrand.

Unlike the Cottingley of today with 4,649 (1991 Census figure) inhabitants, the Cottingley of yesteryear was a quiet and sparcely populated countryside. Records show that 400 years ago when the Franke family became the joint owners of the manor for 1040 with Thos. Brooke, William Morvell and John Rawson, the manor consisted of 12 messuages, four cottages and two watermills, twelve gardens, 400 acres of wood and 500 acres of moorland.

During the seventeenth century saw the building of Manor Farm and also the terrible sufferring of the people of Beckfoot which was ravaged by The Plague.

In 1753, one of the most notable events in Cottingley history, the passing of a road and waterway toll act , gave rise to the first toll bar at Cottingley Bridge which was later rellocated at Cottingley Bar in 1823. The old Cottingley Bar toll building was demolished about 90 years ago but the name survives the test of time.

Another landmark date, 21st March 1865, brought the grand opening of the new Cottingely Town Hall two years after local men carted in the first foundation stone. Today, the building still stands thanks to the dedication of committee members and local residents but falling interest has made upkeep a difficult challenge.

However, Cottingley was to reserve its most celebrated time for the turn of the century when a certain Francis and Elsie took photos of cutout fairies behind their house at Cottingley Beck. As the story goes their childhood prank caused worldwide interest and even today people argue that the photos are genuine! Without a doubt, this one event put Cottingley on the map and recent adaptations of the story have taken shape in the form of multi-million dollar Hollywood productions.

The present day sees another huge leap in the development of Cottingley with the Bingley Relief Road intersecting some of the most natural land in the UK. It promises to benefit the community but conservationists and local residents alike are horrified at the project.

Lest we forget, history is a one-off opportunity and once lost, can never be recreated. Sadly, the Toll building and the Old Vicarage can only be spoken about in the past tense and it seems that many other sites may follow suit. What we do have are some magnificent buildings, beautiful woodlands and a quaint, tranquil setting. If you are visiting, remember that this is a residential area so please travel carefully and respect the privacy of the local community. If you live here, then support your local community so that one day you can show your children what you see today and not just point to a few photos on Cottingley.Net

See the Cottingley Timeline