Hartsop Hall Farm lies at the bottom of the Kirkstone Pass, 1/4 mile south-west of Brothers Water and 1/4 mile W of the Brothers Water Hotel. Access is gained via the track by the Hotel.
Hartsop Hall is undoubtedly one of the oldest buildings in Patterdale, and in previous years one of the most important. The tales surrounding it include smuggling, murder, ghosts and of course the monks who reputedly gave their name to Brotherswater. None of the architectural details at the hall can be ascribed a particular date, but they are generally through to be 16th century additions and improvements made to an earlier bastle house, of perhaps fourteenth century. Unusual features include a king-post roof, a garderobe, an extremely ornate beamed ceiling to the first-floor hall, the arched headed windows, 17th century staircase, adn what can only be described as a priest's hole.
WALLS - The only visible wall of the hall itself is built of large cobbles with cobble quoins. The other faces are rendered or covered by the various extensions. The windows have pale pink sandstone surrounds, at present pained on the north-east face a variey of greens. It is hoped to clean these during the current renovation. Only the ground floor window on the south-west face has a label, the other windows have either been removed, or perhaps never existed.
ROOF - Three of the original four king-post roof trusses remain. No details of the truss construction could be seen, nor the form of scarf employed for the purlins. Some members were however numbered with neatly chiselled marks. This proved that hte remaining truss had originally been of the same type, although a collar bolted between the principals now replace the tie etc. Also at this end (and in the adjoining barn) the ridge is supported by a vertical post which rises from a beam spanning between the thicker walls towards the quoins. THe pitch is unusually steep.
DOORS and WINDOWS - All the internal doors are panelled, and apparently date from a late Victorian renovation of the hal when fireplaces were replaced, and the garderobe and pries hole filled. The north-east door was put in in 1949, and the original window moved along the wall. A doorway with four-centred arch seems to be contemporary with the windows despite its unusual position at the foot of the staircase. The door itself is modern.
The original winodws have elliptical heads, and are of one, two or three lights with decorative spandrels. As stated only one window has a label, the remainder are rendered right up to the sandstone. The frames were fixed in with metal dowel; these have rusted adn split many of the mulions so are all being replaced during the present work. Internally the reveals and soffit are plastered, but underneath there are three wooden lintels the inside of which has a curved step stop chamfer. A further two windows originally lit the attics via the gable wall, one of these is now blocked. The rectangular form and hollow chamfered surround is similar in design to the blocked 'cheese window' at the end of Dovedale Cottage.
CHIMNEYS and FIREPLACES - The chimney-stack at the north-east end is original, and built into the thickness of the wall. THe top section is brick. A modren fireplace on the ground floor ws taken out in March 1985 and the original segmenal arch opened up. The voussiors of this are thin slate this a triangular slate key- stone, place centrally under a pair of corbels which suppoer the floor above. This is too small to have been a cooking hearth. The fireplace above is apparently of a simialr design, but has not been reopened. There is also a blocked fireplace in the attic which could not be inspected, and what seemed to be a date on the slate lintel may have been scratched in 1949.
The chimney stack at the other end of the building appears to have been rebuilt, probalby in the late 19th century. THere is no sign of a fireplace on the ground floor, where a large kitched / cooking hearth might be expected, indeed a gun-loop (?) suggest there never has been one here. The first floor has a mass- produced cast-iron fireplace of the late 19th century, which matches one above the kitchen. There is no hearth in the attic.
INTERIOR DETAILS - The ground floor has slate flags over all but the living room, which has a suspended wooden floor. Outside are a large number of sandstone slabs which might have been the origianl finish, as at Glencoyne Farm down the valley. The beam over the fireplace in the living room has an ornate chamfer similar to those in the bedroom upstairs. There were three corbels up tot he recent work, but one was found to be plaster and removed so the priest's hole could be opened up. The latter is cylindrical with a low crescentic seat, and has two openings, a high one 60 cm square (previously a deep cupboard with sloping base the full depth of the hole) and a low opening rather like the hatch to a bread oven. A slate slab forms the floor, which isnow 30cm up from the internal floor-level. Mrs Allen, the previous tenant, though she could remember reading a description of this from the late 19th century.
The gable beam in the pantry is also helf on corbels, but is undecorated. The adjoining beam (now a wall) has curved step stops, all other beams on this floor are plain.
The staircase is meant to be 17th century, but has been heavily restored, to the extent that only the ballusters remain. The south-west ballustrad is modern (1949), replacing a wall which was removed to open up the house. A lancastrian coat of arms is set into this wall at half landing level, but this too has probably been moved. NB The upper rail has knobs on the posts - not in place when photographs were taken.
Over the modrn lobby (previous pantry?) is a peculiar dead space with no access andn no apparent use. The floorboards of the attic show that there was at one time a staircase in the north corner of this, possibly a spiral one rising fomr the ground floor within its own panelled case.
The notable feature of the first floor is the magnificent ceiling in bedroom 1, which on closer inspection proved to continue right over the staircase although it is now hidden from below. The moulding is a corvetto flanked by ovolo which runs off at the junctions. (Similar to the pele tower at Sizergh - now though to be 15th century). The truss tie-beam carry five longitudinal beams, which in turn carry single length moulded beams dividing the main structure into squares. Each of these panels is then divided by plain chamfered and flat stopped beams into two or three rectangles. Some, at least, of these smallest beams are replacements.
The whole ceiling is a rather poor fit as if it has been moved from elsewhere and adapted to this position. The side beams are moulded on both edges, although only one shos, while the beams over the fireplace disappear into the plaster. Also the squares differ in size and in the layout of the smallest members. This type of moulding is however difficult to alter, and it may simple have been setting out errors which caused these discrepancies.
When the attic space was in use as living accommodation a door was cut into each of the centre pair of trusses. Nothing now remains of this except the rebate and catch for the latch in the king-post, and the lap-joint and peg for hte other jamb. The floor boards over the stair are in place, revealing the position of the top flight, but hey have been taken up over the bedroom when this was replastered at some time.
SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENT - Without documentary evidece it is not possible to put a date to the earliest building phase at Hartsop. Similar elliptical headed windows can be found at Hornby Hall, Broughton, and Cowmire Hall, Crosthwaite dated c1548 and 16th century respectively, (Identical windows occur outside the Lakes onthe Grammer School, Guildford date 1552, which one would expect to be slightly earlier). Four centred doorways are found in teh 15th or 16th century while the ceiling similar to Sizergh which was originally thought to be early 16th century now seems to be 15th century. The staircase it thought to be 17th century.
The plan of Harsop Hall has been greatly altered, but the presence of a garderobe and first floor hall suggests a semi- fortified hosue, rather like the bastel house of hte 16th century. With such a house the main hall (bed 1 and staircase) were used for all manner of social and domestic functions during the day, and as sleeping quarters for most of the household at night. ANothger room (bed 2 and 3) was the retiring room, where the head of the household would sleep.
In a bastle house proper the ground floor was a lock-up for hte cattle in case of trouble, with an independant first floor entrance to the dwelling. As it stands the ground floor of Hartsop Hall is not of thistype, and could not be defended because of the door and many windows. The small size of the fire in the present living room suggests that this was domestic rather than kitchen accommodation. This would make the present dairy and a passage the kitchen, with a small pantry behind the 17th cnetury stairs. The whole of this arrangement could be an alteration, replacing the extenal stair to the present door now leading to the extension.
The byre / barn extension is reported to be 17th century. The roof is however much more modern The 18th century kitchen range with byre and hayloft beyond was heavily altered in 1949 to make an independant dwelling (Dovedale Cottage). Mrs Allen the previous tenant told us there was once a right of way through this back ktiched, and an old man would frequently lead his donkey up the path and through the house. She also called the bench at the end of Dovedale Cottage a cheese shelf, where dairymen would put new cheese to dry out.
The village used to keep a bull between them in a fielld just north of Sykeside. The foundations of this can still be seen.