West Bretton Village & Parish

West Bretton is a village and civil parish in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. It lies 7 miles from Wakefield, close to junction 38 of the M1 motorway.

There is a school in the village, West Bretton Junior and Infant School situated in the original Grade II listed school premises, and a church, which is an Anglican-Methodist local ecumenical partnership,created in 1982. There is no pub or shop in the village.

The village is on the A637 Huddersfield - Barnsley Road south west of the junction with the A636 Denby Dale Road, close to the M1 motorway which passes to the east of the village. The village covers approximately 849 acres at the watershed of the rivers Dearne and Calder. The River Dearne flows west to east through the landscaped grounds of Bretton Park where it is dammed to form two lakes.

West Bretton is home to a bowls club which has several teams in local leagues and a cricket club which regularly turns out two teams in local weekend leagues; and to the nationally acclaimed Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which covers 200 acres of landscaped grounds with a large collection of sculptures by internationally renowned artists including local sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.


Bretton has been described as the farmstead of the Britons and derives from the Old English, Brettas and ton. It was recorded as Bretone in the Domesday Book of 1086 and West Bretton in 1200.

The manor and hall were inherited by the Wentworth family in 1407.

Subsequent generations of the family inherited the estate, but it was Sir William Wentworth who built the Bretton Hall in 1720. His son, Sir Thomas Wentworth, transformed the parkland to what it is today, When he died in 1792 the estate was inherited by Diana Bowman, Sir Thomas’s illegitimate daughter, who had married Colonel Thomas Beaumont, MP for Northumberland.

Successive generations of the Beaumont family made their home at Bretton Hall until Wentworth Henry Canning Beaumont sold the Hall to the West Riding County Council in 1947 for use as a teacher training college, eventually affiliated to the University of Leeds, before closure in 2007.

Agriculture was the main work from medieval time with records showing enclosure of fields in 1759. Many original farms from 1800 still exist today. Furnaces in the village produced pig iron for forges as far as Leeds throughout the 18th century with last recorded furnace closing 1820. Coal mines and bell pits were also prominent throughout the 19th century. There is also evidence of millstone grit quarrying from the 17th to the 19th century for use as building stone and in dry stone walls, and a brickworks producing rustic red bricks from fireclay outcrops.

Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the chapelry of West Bretton was partly in the parish of Sandal Magna in the wapentake of Agbrigg and partly in the parish of Silkstone in the wapentake of Staincross. It became part of the Wakefield Poor Law union in 1837. West Bretton became part of Wakefield Rural District, created in 1894 and abolished 1974, when it became part of the City of Wakefield Metropolitan District.