P & G Durbin Properties
Due to changes in modern agriculture, many older farm buildings are no longer suited to their original function. However, the move towards diversification of the farming economy means that many can be retained and imaginatively converted to new uses. Sometimes this requires recording of the original structures and their internal features prior to modification, and this project is a good example of this aspect of NAA’s work.
NAA was commissioned by P & G Durbin Properties to undertake archaeological building recording at Thirley Cotes Farm, Harwood Dale, North Yorkshire as part of a mitigation programme associated with the conversion of the property to holiday accommodation. The work had been recommended by The North York Moors National Park Authority Building Conservation Officer in response to a Listed Building Consent application.
Thirley Cotes Farm is a courtyard farm comprising a series of ranges built around a central courtyard. The farmhouse is a Grade II Listed building (National Heritage List No. 1296633) The farm buildings are primarily constructed of local sandstone, with some later brick. The farmhouse, former stables, and main barn have previously been converted.
The Farm was one of several properties built by the Hackness Estate in the first half of the 19th century. Cartographic evidence suggests it was set out in a single phase of build prior to 1854, with subsequent modification over the following century in response to broader changes in farming practice. The east, north and west ranges, together with the farmhouse, formed part of the original farmstead, with a cart shed, north-west range and south range all being added by the end of the 19th century. The linear south range was rebuilt (or substantially modified) in the first decade of the 20th century when it was replaced by two structures, only the western section of which remains standing today.
The primary heritage significance of Thirley Cotes Farm derives from its evidential and historic values as a planned agricultural complex associated with the ‘high farming’ period in the early to mid-19th century. This saw the implementation of numerous advances in agricultural production and stock management, together with the widespread introduction of mechanised farming techniques to meet the increased demand of the growing industrialised nation. The west and south ranges were good examples of livestock accommodation and, together with the cart shed, provided an insight into the layout and development of a Victorian farm over time.
Much of the complex, including the farmhouse, was converted to holiday accommodation by the previous owner of the property in 2010. The recent work related to conversion of the three remaining agricultural ranges, all of which were stone built, single-storey structures. The brief was to carry out a Historic England Level 2 survey, comprising a photographic, written and drawn record of the interior and exterior of the three buildings proposed for conversion, and a Level 1 photographic survey of the farmstead complex as a whole in order to provide a record of the broader site context and setting. For the final report on the recent work NAA was also asked to incorporate the results of a previous recording project carried out on some of the buildings by CS Archaeology. Together, these surveys have facilitated a greater understanding of the form, layout and development of Thirley Cotes and, together with the archive, is considered to serve as a suitable record to mitigate against any potential loss of heritage significance arising from the holiday let conversion.
The full report on this fascinating and well-preserved group of buildings has been placed on the Archaeology Data Service website