Shelf & District Community Group

The Stone Chair 

At Stone Chair is a very unusual guide post. It was built in 1737 in the form of a stone chair, which gave the name to the surrounding area. The monument is now Grade II listed, although the present construction dates from 1891. It consists of two large upright stone slabs set at an angle to each other and joined at the top by an iron strap. Between the two is a large triangular stone block which acts as a seat, hence the name ‘Stone Chair’. 

William Clayton was a blacksmith, but almost certainly not the publican at the Duke of York Inn, on the opposite side of the road from the Stone Chair itself, as is often suggested. Prior to the 1820’s the Stone Chair was on one of the main roads between Halifax and Bradford. It has been suggested that the Chair served as a resting place for people waiting for stage coaches or other transport. Clayton was the Township Surveyor of the Highways in 1727 when the Chair was built. His yearly accounts still survive and record that “a gide erecting and seting up” cost 4s. 6d., and “aile when stone was sett up” a further 1s. 6. Further references to the carrying of stones are likely to relate mostly to the purchase of stones to fill pot-holes in the roads.

It was possibly put up following directions from County Justices of the Peace to erect stoops to assist travellers at cross ways, an instruction which was repeated in 1733. According to the Ordnance Survey Map of 1854, the Chair showed distances in traditional miles, not the miles used nowadays. 

Clayton died in 1766 aged 72 and was buried at nearby Coley Church. His gravestone still survives, as one of the stones forming an approach to the church. His headstone reads “Anvil and Hammer lie declin’d, my Bellows [too] have lost their Wind, my Fire ext[inguished and] my Forge decay’d, And in the dust my Vice is laid, my Coals are spent my Iron’s gone, Last nail I’ve drove my work is done”.

During the 19th century the Chair seems to have been destroyed or otherwise to have fallen apart. In 1890 local writer Harry Speight claimed to have unearthed one of the stone slabs with a defaced inscription from beneath a heap of rubbish on the original site. This slab is likely to be the one dated 1737 which is now built onto the wall of the adjoining house. It was apparently rebuilt (using new stone slabs) the following year in 1891, and the present structure corresponds with Speight’s description and illustration of the previous Stone Chair, although there seems to be no way of confirming the original appearance of the previous Chair.


Ben Stables


Originally published in 'The Milestone
Society Newsletter' Number 29, July 2015

Revised for the Shelf and District
Community Group Website April 2016

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