Asa Farrar Stone, Rastrick

New Dick is an old packhorse route which runs from the top of Toothill Bank to Clough Lane at Fixby and whilst it now comes to a dead end, bisected by the M62, it was once part of the main road between Wakefield and Manchester. The presence of a large and sturdily-constructed well attests to its former status. Nearby the well, the legend “Asa Farrar : Oct. 2nd 1859” is inscribed on one of the stones in a stile.

Local rumour once held that Farrar had been a highwayman who used to waylay travellers pausing at the well. However, whilst there is no definitive evidence that Farrar was not a highwayman, the actual story of how his name comes to be carved into that stone is arguably much stranger.

The 1851 census records that Farrar was a weaver’s son living at Oaks Green who by the age of 23, for reasons we will never know, was already tired of life and so carved his name into the stile as a memorial before attempting to hang himself from an adjacent tree. He had effectively tried to chisel his own epitaph and for years afterwards local people believed that the stone actually marked his grave and would not pass the site after dark for fear of meeting Farrar’s restless spirit.

However, Farrar was unsuccessful in his  suicide attempt but clearly the impulse plagued him throughout his life, for on 26th June 1908–by which time he’d reached the grand old age of 72 and was living in Elland–he tried once again. Three times, in fact; twice by hanging and once by a self-inflicted wound with a razor, but these attempts also proved fruitless.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hello, would it be possible to get more information on the topic and add it to the website ??

    • Possibly. It depends what sort of information you’re after?

  2. Me and old school-friend with whom I have just hooked with after 40+ years from Rastrick Grammar are just talking about this. We both live in London now – I know turncoats!!!

    He just reminded me of this incident:

    “Do you remember the tale of Asa Farrar
    There was this anniversary where he hung himself with his dog’s lead and we were all joking about it in the classroom when a great gust of wind blew open the classroom door-Spooky!”

    So, I have given him the url of this article and blog as it is all so fascinating and brings back so many memories.

    • I’m glad the site has jogged some interesting memories, Barry!

      • Dear Kai,

        Would it be possible to quote pieces of your blog if necessary on my blog, please? Of course, there would be a link back to here and a credit as to where the quote is from.
        My blog is my story – here it is for you to peruse if you wish:

        http://barryclarke.wordpress.com/

        Thanks!

  3. Yes, that’s absolutely fine, Barry. I’ve just had a browse through your blog–it’s a fascinating resource for social history. Incidentally, do you recall if there was any talk of the stone being haunted?

    • Thanks Kai. That’s very kind of you.
      And, thanks for the positive comments on my blog too. Of course, It is always being updated/ amended/ edited. Because my old school-friend has been in contact I may start the Rastrick Grammar School chapter now as it has given me a boost. We are meeting up week after next too! I wonder who has aged the best ☺
      Regarding the stone being haunted. We, as kids always thought it was – so it definitely was in legend. You would never go see it on your own that’s for sure.
      Thanks again
      PS: Just sent details of your site to the members of my family who have email and friends who still live there. Bet they’ll love it here!!!

      • Cheers, Barry – I’ll add a brief mention of the belief amongst local children that the stone was haunted to the post. Thanks also for telling your friends and family about the site. The more readers, the merrier!


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