Thorner is an ancient village dating back to a Saxon settlement and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Its position was probably determined by a line of springs along a geological fault between the limestone to the east and sandstone to the west that produced a feature known as Thorn Bank, from which the village no doubt derives its name.
Between the 14th and 18th centuries, the village gradually expanded, with agriculture at its heart and farms lining either side of the Main Street from Sandhills to Bramham Road and extending east into Butts Garth. This is the core of the historical village and gives it much of its charm and beauty. The commanding feature of the village centre is the wide main street dominated by the 15th century church. The buildings fronting Main Street are mainly traditional vernacular buildings of the late 18th and 19th centuries constructed of stone and generally built with relatively narrow frontages, but with a deeper plot to the rear, known as a burgage. Main Street and the immediate surrounding area form the major part of the Conservation Area.
During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the population of Thorner increased steadily and the number of new houses also increased – including the first stage of the Welfare Housing Estate on Kirkfield Lane and Kirkfield Avenue in the mid-1920’s and the late 1930’s.
Post WW2, building continued at pace which led to a rapid increase in the population, 23% during the 1960s, probably the highest in the history of the village. During the 1970s, St Peter’s Church of England Infant and Junior School was constructed to accommodate the increase in children and improve facilities.
During the late 20th century and the start of the new millennium, development of housing continued, with the majority of developments being conversions of existing sites or infill developments. This has prevented village sprawl and retained the feel of the village, which continues to be surrounded by agricultural land.
There are a number of listed buildings in the village.
■ St Peter’s Church is thought to date back to the 15th century, although it was substantially altered and rebuilt in the mid-19th century in neo-gothic form. The church also includes a listed grave slab dating back to 1503, commemorating William and Elizabeth Nettleton.
■ The former Methodist Chapel was built in 1878. In the 1980’s it was converted in to flats and although much of the interior was lost, the exterior gives a clear indication of its original use.
■ The Old Tithe Barn on Station Lane was originally a large stone aisled barn of the late medieval era.
■ The 18th century stone-built Bishop’s House at Eltofts, formerly the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds and now converted into 9 residences, was originally constructed as a dower house for the Mexborough family.
■ Field Head on Thorner Lane is another grand 19th century stone-built house. Converted for commercial use in the 1970’s, it has since been reconverted back to a large family home.
■ 59 Main Street, known as The Old house, is thought to be the oldest surviving building in the village and the listing shows it is dated to the 17th century.
■ More modest cottages have also been listed, such as 68 and 70 Main Street to show the vernacular character of the housing stock through the 19th century.
■ Other listed structures include the 18th century stone bridge into Thorner from Sandhills and an old cross base on Butts Garth, thought to be the site of the old village green.