Robert Craven

Robert Craven was a local gentleman farmer, a single man, who lived at Staircase Farm off Otley Road. He was the youngest in a family of five, with two brothers and two sisters whom he outlived. One of his brothers, John Craven, also lived in Bramhope, in a house off Church Hill.

In June 1888, Robert Craven made his will and he appointed two friends, Thomas Whitam - a Bramhope wollen merchant, and John Yeadon - a farmer from Otley, as Trustees and Executors of his will.

On 3rd January 1889, Robert Craven died, believed to be 81 years of age, and was buried in the cemetery of Adel Church. The total value of his estates (including land in Arthington and Otley and the Fox & Hounds Inn in Bramhope), after all death duties and other expenses had been paid, amounted to a total of 16,396. This is the equivalent of around one million pounds at today's values!

In his will, Robert Craven named 38 beneficiaries. Amongst these were the local vicar, local hospitals, and a number of inn-keepers in Otley. He directed that the residue should be for the benefit of a local charitable institution as his Trustees, at their discretion, thought fit.

The Trustees used this discretion to allocate 2,200 in order to build the Robert Craven Memorial Hall, and a further 1000 for the fitting out, the upkeep and the Caretaker's wages.

Originally, it was proposed to name the building "The Bramhope Working Man's Club", however, this was changed to "The Craven Institute" and this name continued for several years.

The Institute opened on 20th October 1896 and seven trustees were appointed by the villagers to administer all its affairs and the day-to-day running of the premises. This has continued up to the present time and the Hall is still administered by a voluntary group of local residents who constitute the Trustees and Management Committee.

In 1977, the property was accepted by the Charity Commissioners of England and Wales. The object of the charity was "the provision and maintenance of a village hall for the use of the inhabitants of the Parish of Bramhope without distinction of political, religious or other opinions, and for other forms of recreation and leisure time occupations with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants".

The Robert Craven Memorial Hall is now well over 100 years old and still going strong with over twenty different organisations using the building and grounds regularly.