The home today has been in the present owners since 2006 has been recently rejoined with the Cruck Barn and outbuildings which had been in separate ownership since the mid 1960s.
It is believed to have been the marital home of Elizabeth Bess of Hardwick who unfortunately passed away in 1544 even though they were both only teenagers. Bess of Hardwick, who was a great friend of Queen Elizabeth I, went on to marry three further husbands, she constructed Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House. Her last husband being the former Chancellor of the Exchequer for Henry VIII, bringing the name of Cavendish into the family, subsequently known as the Earl of Shrewsbury and then later family members becoming the Dukes of Devonshire.
The present Hall is Jacobean and dates from 1624 but there has been a house here from at least 1269. The Deeds dated June 1368 refer to Barley Woodsettes meaning the house in the woods belonging to Barley. Many of the timbers still have carpenter marks on them and there are also Witch marks and scorched initials burnt into one of the plaster ceilings to ward off evil spirits.The Hall and Barns have a lovely calm and relaxed feeling so if there are any ghosts they must be happy ones!
Arthur Mower who was the estates manager for the Earl of Shrewsbury remodelled the present house in 1624 when he married. His detailed diary is in the British Museum shows glimpses of daily life, entertaining ,work done for the estate and the other local events. He died in 1652 but many generations of his family occupied the house in subsequent years. We have managed to acquire Debentures and Wills from the late 1600s and mid 1700s showing land inherited and mortgages paid off one of which is signed by George III. In 1843 the house passed to the Thorold family by the marriage of Charlotte Mower. This family can be traced back 900 years to the Sheriff of Lincoln during the reign of Edward the Confessor.
More recent history can be seen by way of the rebuilt eastern gable wall to the Hall which was demolished by a landmine in April 1941. A German bomber who was supposed to target the Sheffield steel works became lost and released his cargo of bombs across the Millthorpe valley, the blast from one falling in the adjacent field demolished part of the house and the roof. When the comprehensive restoration was carried out new timbers were inserted in the roof which are still visible today.
The estate remained in the Thorold family as a tenanted farm until it was sold by auction in 1964. This was probably the first time it had ever been sold publicly.
The Estate was bought at the auction by Mr Eric Furness of Old Brampton, the Hall had a closing order on it because it was unfit for habitation. Mr Furness was close friends with Mr & Mrs Millward, a sale of the Hall was agreed to them, Mrs Millward was a historian and wished to restore the Hall as a family home. An unusual coincidence is that one of their daughters married Mr J.Towers who was the Under Sheriff for the whole of Yorkshire.
Part of the sale arrangement was that a new bungalow be built for the Botham family who could no longer live in the main house because of its condition. The Barns and land were stripped from the Hall and retained with the new bungalow as the farm house, the farm had a dairy heard which was kept until about 2009 when the farm moved to beef production as it is today. Some of the attached pictures are of relatives of Mr John Botham who still farms the land today.
The Biggin family occupied the farm prior to the Bothams and their descendants still farm much of the land in the Milthorpe Valley.
The Millward family lived in the Hall until 2007 when a sale was agreed to Mr Nicholas Todd who was a Chartered Surveyor and also a former Sheriffs Officer. In 2014 Mr Todd negotiated the purchase of the Barns from Mr Jeramy Furness and reunited the Barn and Hall again.
The 5 bay Cruck barns are extremely rare and that is now classified, along with the main Hall, as Grade 11* listed with specific mention to the two sets of gateposts at either end of the stack yard. The five Bay Cruck Barn has recently been dated to 1530 by English Heritage, it has also been established that it was originally thatched and the walls bordered or made of wattle and daub.
In 1624 when the Hall was remodelled the end of the barn was turned at right angles to create an impressive stable block with basic living accommodation for the staff at first floor level. This has now been turned into a luxury holiday let. Areas of original plasterwork have been left exposed which show the stable lads scratched daisywheel patterns into the walls with pitchforks to ward off evil spirits. They carved their initials into the plaster and practised their writing which can also be seen.The small windows are made of cedar wood and unpainted to reflect the fact that there was no paint on the original windows which were very badly broken or missing.
In 2013 a lady called and Margaret Welch called at the property with her family, she had stayed at the farm as a child before the Second World War. She had many happy memories of her stay, fortunately and unusually for the time her father was a photographer, kindly she has copied her family photographs, which are set out below.
The recent renovations have taken a 5 year period but are now nearing completion. The facilities include two Holliday let cottages which can sleep a total of 16 guests in en-suite double rooms.
There is a function suite for weddings and private parties, when not booked for private events the Barn is open for evening meals, afternoon tea and Sunday lunches, please look up our events calendar for further details.
We are proud of the peacocks that we have reared here, they roam freely and have a very distinctive range of calls. The Ostentation ( the correct name for a gathering of Peacocks) includes Falstaff the white peacock and Bess who is normally a proud mum to chicks in the spring. They live outside all year and sleep in the trees or on the roofs. The male peacocks have 6 foot high tail displays from about April to mid August. They eat chicken pellets, grass, bugs, scraps when they can find them and many of the flowering plants and vegetables we plant. We are constantly clearing up after them! They are very inquisitive and will come quite close to you if you remain still but they are also very nervous and will not let you touch them.
We hope you have enjoyed this potted history and look forward to seeing you at one of our events, please phone or email if you have any enquiries.
The next group of images are from ‘The National Trust Book of The Farm’ by Gillian Darley and was published in 1981.