Yes…granges were actually buildings. It’s easy to think of them as being fields full of sheep or corn or field mice or what have you, with the occasional monk/lay-brother pottering up and down picking mushrooms and herbs and being investigated for murder by Brother Cadfael. But monks/lay-brothers, of course, needed somewhere to eat and sleep and pray and beat themselves with whips and cut bald patches out of their hair and store their cattle and grain in the winter (and documents record, I should add, that Stalmine Grange, as well as growing wheat, corn and oats, also kept cows) and to do all the other stuff that monks/lay-brothers used to do for reasons best left to themselves. And for all that a sizeable building would have been required. (Incidentally, did you know that the modern word ‘labourer’ is derived from those hard working, tonsure sporting lay-brothers of the mediaeval period? Well you do now.)
Obviously the first place to look for the grange then would be Grange Farm itself, on the off chance that the farmhouse was built from ecclesiastical rubble. The photograph below, therefore, shows the actual building, constructed in 1682 (according to the date stone above the door at any rate) and surrounded by the largest collection of chickens, bantams and peacocks we’ve ever seen. (Although, for some reason, most of them went into hiding the minute I took out the camera.)
We can tell you who was living here when it was first built, if you like. According to the records it was Thomas Smith, who must have owned the house prior to the Stewart rebuild as well, because he’s listed as living at Stalmine Grange as early as 1651. Before then, in 1618 to be precise, Dorothy Pike owned the place. Presumably, shortly after Furness Abbey fell to the dissolution in the mid-Sixteenth Century, some sort of temporary building was erected on the site, more than likely, as previously suggested, using the rubble from the grange itself.
Let’s take a look at that date stone in a bit more detail.