Although it started as a fairly small hamlet it has grown considerably through the 1980s and 1990s with new housing and small businesses. It has been extensively used as one of the locations in the BBC's long-running comedy series Last of the Summer Wine. Much of which has centred on the village pub the 'Butchers Arms', which provides a central meeting place for the village residents.
The name Hepworth is Anglo-Saxon. It may have been that Heppa, an Anglo-Saxon, was of great “worth”. There is also the view of Dr H. T. Moorhouse who states, in his History of Kirkburton and the Graveship of Holme (1861), that the name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Hep” meaning high and “worth” meaning place of residence. Another reference cites –worth as meaning an enclosure, hence enclosure of a man called Heppa. In the Domesday Book it is given the name Hepeuuord and is described as the King’s land with steep streets.
In medieval times the wool trade was the chief source of employment. During the fourteenth century Hepworth was in the parish of Kirkburton, which covered around fifty square miles. It incorporated the townships of Wooldale, Cumberworth, Cartworth, Fulstone, Shepley amongst others. In the fifteenth century a church was built at Holmfirth and during the Civil War a petition was submitted asking for Holmfirth to be made a parish in its own right. The petition was granted by Minister Gamaliel Abraham in 1651. Hepworth and its neighbour Scholes thus became part of the parish of Holmfirth.
The Great Plague
In 1665 – 1666 the Great Plague struck England. It wrought devastation in London, then spread across the country. Hepworth was the most northerly point that it reached. According to local legend it is supposed to have come in on cloth brought from London.
In an effort to save the village the residents split the village into two parts at Barracks Fold. Those that were infected remained, isolated from the world, in one half. Thirteen of the residents died from the disease, which was a considerable percentage of the population in such a small village and thirteen trees were planted to remember them. The trees still stand today, by the local football pitch. Two subsequently fell down and in 2004, replacements were planted at a small ceremony by Parish Councillor, Ruth Jackson. The end of the plague in Hepworth is still commemorated on the last Monday in June every year with Hepworth Feast.
Hepworth's spiritual founding
In 1777 a mighty storm caused the River Holme to swell and flood over its banks in Holmfirth, sweeping away people and property, including the parish church. It was rebuilt in its present state a year later with funding from local clothiers. During this period Wesleyan evangelicals were active in the Holme Valley and Hepworth. They encouraged the local residents to demand that church services be held at the Old Town School. This led to Hepworth becoming a separate parish. In 1863 Holy Trinity Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon further boosting spirituality in Hepworth.
In 1822 Thomas Langdale recorded a population of 1,048 for the township of Hepworth.