ON a woodland walk heading from Shipley Glen towards Gilstead at the weekend, I noticed some faded but very distinctive mosaic tiles on the ground.

Scattered around, poking out through the trees, were the remains of once grand pillars, and piles of old stone pieces.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Remains of Milner Field House Remains of Milner Field House

It dawned on me that this site was familiar. A quick Google search established that I had written about it, 10 years ago.

This was once Milner Field House, built by the son of one of our most prominent mill-owners. I appeared to be standing in what was once a large orangery, with an elegant tiled floor.

Back in 2012 a book called The Lost Country House Of Titus Salt Jnr, by Richard Lee-Van den Daele and R David Beale Barleybrook, landed on my desk.

It contained the intriguing story of a property that once took pride of place in this local beauty spot - and was visited by Royalty not once but twice - and is now a few piles of mossy stones.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The great country house is now a pile of mossy stones The great country house is now a pile of mossy stones

In 2020 Milner Field was back in the T&A when Bradford YouTube star Darren Hosker filmed a video in an old cellar at the remains of the property.

The T&A reported that Darren was visiting several old and disused sites around the district, uncovering their past for his YouTube channel, AdventureMe. He went to Milner Field accompanied by fellow YouTuber, MartinZero.

“Titus Salt Jnr and his wife Catherine bought the Milner Field Estate in 1869. The old manor house and farm buildings at the top end of the estate were then demolished to make way for the building of the new Milner Field house, completed in 1871,” said the T&A report.

Darren Hosker was spooked by the site: “The cellar was intact inside. It was like a horror film set,” he told the T&A.

“We went there in mid-afternoon on a sunny day. It was like a different world. It was so quiet. We felt a bit sombre when we were there. Somebody commented on my video on YouTube that they had played down there in the 1950s and it had been a wine cellar.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Darren Hosker at the site Darren Hosker at the site

Further research reveals that the house was thought to be “cursed”.

Sir Titus Jnr died in the billiard room in 1887, from a heart condition worsened by business woes, and when Salts Mill and Milner Field was sold to Sir James Roberts, he appeared to inherit the curse too.

Three of his four sons died and the other was badly injured in the First World War then lost his pregnant young wife to the Spanish flu epidemic. Sir James’s daughter Alice married a man who who shot dead a man thought to be her lover.

Death and illness continued to plague families who lived in Milner House in later years, and the property was abandoned by 1930 and demolished in the 1950s.

This is what I wrote about the old house back in 2012: Few of those taking an old pathway from the end of Baildon’s Coach Road, past a solitary gatehouse, darkened by a canopy of trees, would know that they are approaching Milner Field, described as “one of the great Yorkshire houses”.

And few would realise that the property was built by the son of one of the Bradford district’s greatest industrialists.

Now no longer standing, Milner Field came to symbolise the wealth and social position of the Salt family.

While much has been written about Sir Titus Salt’s model village, now the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, little mention has been made of the houses occupied by his family.

This charming book asks why so many notable buildings came to be lost over the past century, among them Milner Field, overlooking the Aire Valley. The book’s introduction reveals that: “In 1946 at least 2,000 once-magnificent country houses dotted the English countryside; neglected, riddled with damp and dry rot, and awaiting the inescapable arrival of sledgehammer and pickaxe.

Author and historian John Harris calculated that by 1955 a country house was being demolished, somewhere in England, every two-and-a-half days. He likens the loss in architectural terms to be ‘probably as great as that from the destructions following the Dissolution of the Monasteries’.” Even had there been any awareness that a valuable historic property was being destroyed, there were few means of rescue, such as grants, back then.

Built by Titus Salt Jnr in the mid-19th century, Milner House had a “large conservatory, winter gardens, greenhouses, well-stocked gardens, commodious stables and garages, two entrances, lodges, woodlands, grass lands and lake”, with “extensive bracing moorlands” minutes away.

But by the 1920s the house had become unfashionable with a grim reputation, and was damp and difficult to heat.

Extensively researched, the book is richly illustrated with old photographs of generations of the Salt family, and other notable local families connected with the property, as well as exterior and interior images of it.

The striking photographs include young members of the Salt family in fancy dress, a royal tree-planting in the grounds, attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales in June 1882 and aerial photographs of the roofless property.

In his foreword, Denys Salt, grandson of Titus Jnr, writes fondly of the house where his father, uncles and aunt spent their childhood. He concludes: “When one considers how many fine country houses have been lost... it is indeed refreshing and rewarding to be presented with such an authentic chronicle of one such house and its successive occupants over the years.”

* Know anything about the house? Email emma.clayton@nqyne.co.uk