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History of Kirkharle Courtyard

Aerial ImageKirkharle Hall was the ancestral home of the Loraine family from the early 15th century; in 1834, following the collapse of the family Bank, it was sold to Thomas Anderson, a neighbour. He, having no need for a second big house, demolished the mansion, leaving only the Wing to act as a farmhouse. The Estate still remains within the Anderson family.

Kirkharle was then let on a farm tenancy of some 278 acres until 1981 when, with the retirement of the farmer, the land became part of Little Harle Home farm and the house was let. This left the problem of what to do with the steading, which though part modern, still retained an historical range of buildings from the late 1700s; these, by virtue of their construction, were of limited use to modern agricultural needs and had fallen into considerable disrepair. A new purpose had to be found if they were to be saved from demolition.


Renovation ImageIn the late 1990s, with agricultural fortunes still in decline, an opportunity presented itself in the shape of the Government being keen for farmers to diversify out of traditional production and into other ventures that could provide them additional income. This was marked with a change to planning laws and the provision of public money. As a result, a local cabinetmaker was able to move into one of the old byres that had now been converted into a workshop; this quickly grew to encompass a Coffee House and Restaurant, gallery and 2 further workshops. Kirkharle Courtyard had come into being.

The winter of 2001 highlighted the perilous state of the old stone barn to the north; much of the roof had blown off and one end had subsided. The stark choice was either toRestoration work underway on one of the barns demolish it in the interests of safety or restore it to another purpose. Given this building’s importance, both historically and within the landscape, the decision was taken to convert it into a further 6 workshops.

Phase 3 development, which sees the creation of a further 2 workshops for existing businesses to expand and a commercial kitchen wascompleted in 2005.

Present Day

Stone Barn ImageThe building work has been accompanied by conservation work in the surrounding Grade 2 Historic Parkland; sadly this has been too late to remedy many of the ravages caused over time and through intensive agriculture, most notably the loss of the trees. However new trees and woods have now been planted, which despite their early growth stage, are already benefiting the landscape. Hedges have been formed, stonewalls and medieval field boundaries restored, Loraine’s Monument rebuilt and Permissive Access created. Plans to create Capability Brown's lake and associated planting were completed in 2010.

The result is that historically important buildings within a lovely landscape have not only been saved, but now provide the means for many to work in the countryside; their restoration and new purpose should ensure pleasure for our visitors, both now and in the future. The financial input of DEFRA has been critical to the success enjoyed so far.

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