The earliest known settlement in the area was a British camp established off Moor Road. The Romans by-passed Bramhope with their road from Adel to Ilkley, traces of which may still be seen in a field near Leeds Bradford Airport.
Bramhope is mentioned in the Domesday Book when the Saxon thane Uchill had a great manor here. In 1095 this passed into the hands of the famous Percy family, and in 1165 was sold to Ralph de Bramhope. In the 13th century the monasteries owned much of the land and had granges where sheep were grazed. The monks used tracks, such as Scotland Lane and Staircase Lane, as they travelled from their outlying granges to Kirkstall Abbey. At the dissolution of the monasteries Henry VIII gave the land to the Earl of Cumberland. In the 16th century the Dyneley family moved into the area and acquired Bramhope Hall. In 1649 they built the Puritan Chapel, which was taken over by the Church of England after the Restoration.
Although the chapel is said not to have been consecrated it nevertheless was regularly used for church services until 1881-82. When it proved too small for the growing population, St Giles’ Church was built in 1881. The original Methodist chapel was built in 1837 and replaced by the much bigger church in 1896.
It was the Leeds to Otley turnpike road, with its tollhouses, opened in 1842, which routed travellers through the outskirts of Bramhope. It is along this route that motorists today travel between Leeds and the northwest. The milestones along the road were erected in 1850. The railway came to Bramhope, or rather under Bramhope, with the tunnel constructed between 1845 and 1849. The tunnel is still evidenced by the elaborate castellated northern entrance, many heaps of spoil and several ventilation shafts. There is a replica of the tunnel entrance in Otley churchyard, which was erected as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the tunnel’s construction. Click here to see more information about Bramhope tunnel.
The first recorded village school was built in Eastgate where the war memorial gardens are now located. A plaque on the wall states “On this site in 1790 a Day School was erected by the freeholders and copyholders of Bramhope Township. It was also used as a Sunday School and Public Meeting Place. Demolished 1961”. The school became seriously overcrowded whilst tunnelling work for the railway was going on in the late 1840’s. It was replaced by a larger building in 1873 in Breary Lane, next to what is now the shopping parade. The present school, Bramhope Primary School, situated on Tredgold Crescent, was opened in 1961.
Among the older buildings, Bramhope Hall dated from the mid 16th century, and parts of The Croft from about 1600. Old Manor Farm goes back to 1691, and the ‘Old Vicarage’ to about the same time. Several buildings date from the early 18th century. The Smithy served the village from 1687, and its stone hearth and flue can still be seen in the south wall. In 1870 an iron weigh-bridge was installed between The Smithy and the adjoining building, and continued in use until 1939 to weigh loads of hay, stock and shire horses. Bramhope Manor was built in the 16th century but was rebuilt in 1803. . The 20th century saw a considerable amount of new building in Bramhope, with housing developments in a variety of styles.
Bramhope, a former rural village, dominated by farming, has therefore changed very much over the years, with many residents now commuting out of the village to work and others seeking a pleasant environment for their retirement. Bramhope benefits from the Green Belt that separates it from Leeds, very popular features of which are Golden Acre Park and the adjacent Breary Marsh, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.