The Story of Elm Tree Farm
The oak cruck frame which we discovered beneath the plaster of the main bedroom in 2009 shows that Elm Tree Farm must date back to the Mediaeval period. The original timber framed building was rebuilt and subsequently extended in three stages, shown by the differing styles of its thick sandstone walls. Two windows date back to the eighteenth century, four others to the Victorian period while the traditional hopper windows of the former cowsheds are of uncertain date.
Elm Tree Farm was bought by the family in 1968, when it was a tenanted farm with some 25 acres of hill grassland. The farmer ran a local milk round – the low room at the southern (higher) end of the building was the original Dairy.
During the 1980s and 90s, our mother, Dorothy, let out the farm cottage for holidays, while the attached row of former cow sheds stood redundant. The land was let to local farmers, including, for the past decade, your house-keepers, Michael and Sandra, who maintain traditional hay meadows and raise high quality beef and lamb on the fields above the farm buildings.
About 10 years ago, we were faced with buildings in poor structural condition, no longer fit for letting, so we took the decision to completely refurbish the cottage and convert the cow sheds and hay barns into living accommodation. It has been an exciting and challenging project, personally overseen by Hilary on a daily basis – the extreme cold of winter 2010/11 will never be forgotten!
Our objective was to create a versatile family house, intended both for our future retirement with visits by our (large!) family, and for weekend lettings. We have tried to maintain as much of the historic character of the building as possible guided by our daughter, Rose, who studied Architectural and Heritage Conservation and now works for the National Trust.
In addition to preserving historic details of the building, we have repaired the original stone fabric as sympathetically as possible using traditional and natural materials wherever we could – lime mortar, sheep’s wool insulation and hemp lime plaster. We have also introduced the luxury of under floor heating both upstairs and down, so that the large building can be heated efficiently.
We are indebted to a very large team of people who have shared our dream and contributed their ideas or the sweat of their brow! Principal among the latter have been Will, Josh, Mark and Cal, efficiently organised by Robert from the local family building firm, Claremont Construction, the quality of whose workmanship speaks for itself.