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A piece of history on the homes market

THE house where Todmorden's most notorious murders took place is up for sale.

The Vicarage, Church Street, Todmorden has been put on the market for 450,000 by Reeds Rains. It is described as a Regency style gentleman’s residence, “in need of some updating to restore this fabulous property to its former glory.”

Until recently the four-bedroomed house has been the home of the Vicar of Todmorden, Canon Peter Calvert, who lived there with his wife, Stella and their family. The couple, who have moved to the Lake District, raised their three children in the house, which had been their home for over 25 years.

In 1868 the house was the scene of a murderous attack by Miles Weatherill, which led to three deaths.

On March 2 Weatherill broke into the vicarage armed with four pistols and a hatchet. The attack was in revenge for being kept apart from the girl he had fallen in love with, Sarah Bell, the Revered Anthony John Plow’s housemaid. The Rev Plow had forbidden Weatherill to call on Sarah, who later returned to her home in York. After visiting Sarah in York Weatherill returned to Todmorden, had a drink in the Black Swan, and then sought out the Rev Plow.

In the attack he murdered Jane Smith, a domestic servant at the vicarage, and wounded the vicar. Weatherill continued up the stairs to the bedroom of Mrs Plow, who had only recently given birth to a baby daughter.

According to the Annals of Todmorden he then “attempted a most foul and unnatural revenge by firing up between the bedclothes, and otherwise attempting to do her harm, the particulars of which are still fresh in the memory of every individual throughout the nation and the world.” The baby later died of her injuries, as did the Rev Plow, ten days after the attack.

Weatherill, of Back Brook Street, Todmorden, was hanged at the New Bailey Prison, Manchester on April 4. He was one of the last people to be hanged in public at the prison.

Wakefield Diocese property officer, Andrew Lacey, said the church had bought a new house for the next Vicar of Todmorden in Fern Valley Chase.

“We decided that the old property needed a considerable amount of money spending on it and it did not meet the disability requirements,” said Mr Lacey.

“The old vicarage, which is located near the now redundant Christ Church, was purchased not long after it was built in the early 1800s. It was built larger than it is now and the church had the top floor removed in the 1970s.

“The new house is a five bedroom property with good access. It is in the centre of a development, not tucked away up a drive, so people will be able to find the vicar more easily.

“It is the parish that found the house. And it meets all the requirements.”