In 1920 the Yorkshire Post published a letter about a mysterious cave, or grotto, at West Nab on moorland above Meltham on the western edge of Yorkshire. The correspondent believed the structure had been built around 1500 years earlier as the dwelling of the pagan god Baal – hence it’s being known as ‘Bellman’s Castle’.
The building’s true history is more prosaic. In around 1750 R.H. Beaumont of nearby Whitley Beaumont built a banqueting house for the use of he and his friends when they were shooting on the moor. It featured a huge stone slab of a table around which 20 could dine. Beaumont’s Castle had been misheard or misinterpreted as ‘Bellman Castle’ by the time the 1st edition ordnance survey map was published in 1854.
It was however imbued with romance and fantasy from the very start. In 1751 a visitor was confident it ‘resembles ye Habitations of the Druids in ye Scotch Islands’.
This 1920 photograph shows it was already in poor condition by that date.