Sunday, May 04, 2008

Even More of Stalmine Grange

Right...take a look at this:

This is the base of the barn on Grange Road in Stalmine that we showed you in the final photograph of the last instalment. Note the incongruous sandstone blocks (typical mediaeval monastic building material) and the foundation of cobbles pointed with lime mortar (also correct for the period). As we mentioned last time, the barn itself is about the right size for the original twelfth century grange building (although, obviously, the bricks themselves are later), but the question is, why would only the first foot or so of the cobbled walls survive?
Well, often granges were constructed by building a low wall (or sill) of solid material to raise the crook joists off the damp ground. Here’s an illustration to give you some idea of what we’re talking about.

Can’t remember what book this was taken from now, so many humble apologies if you happen to be the author of said book and you’re reading this, for poaching your material and not even giving you a mention.
Anyhow, unfortunately Mr. Bleasdale (who’d given us permission to explore his land around the grange) has just sold the barn to developers (presumably for conversion into living accommodation), which means that any incursions inside the building would no doubt be classed as trespass.
So, bearing that in mind, allow me to introduce you to the Fylde & Wyre Antiquarian Urban Exploration Committee (names withheld for obvious reasons), all of whom valiantly risked prosecution and a slap on the wrists for a quick glimpse inside this impressive construction before it’s altered forever. Want to see the interior? We thought you might…

Impressive eh? (All right…probably not. But it has a certain rustic charm all of its own.)
But of course we…er…I mean ‘they’ were on a mission to spot any mediaeval masonry that might help us determine whether this was the original grange or not.
Item of evidence number one then: One large sandstone block that doesn’t quite belong where it is, carved, enigmatically and with typical mediaeval lettering (i.e. complete with capitals and bases but all over the place because the lay brothers couldn’t be bothered using straight lines) bearing the inscription: “R.H. W-R. RT. RE”. No…we haven’t got a clue what it stands for either. In fact, if anyone’s got any suggestions now might be a good time to give them to us.

Then there’s this carved block in the doorframe that quite clearly doesn’t belong there. (Actually there’s a similar block on the other side and two further ones haphazardly stuck in the rear wall.) The grooves in the block were presumably used for something, but the shaped, backwardly curving apex wouldn’t accommodate any sort of door, so who knows? (Again, suggestions welcome, always remembering that this is family site.)

Right, we’ve actually got tons of these photographs so, rather than use up several weeks worth of blogs on this board, I might as well post a few of them over at the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian Forum (link in the right hand column somewhere) before it heals up.
For now though, our conclusion. Was this the site of the original grange? Er…probably yes.
’Nuff said.


John said...

How come everytime you mention the word progess, I get a tummy ache?

The building is actually quite impressive... love that huge fireplace, and the inscribed stone and other stuff cetainly do add an air of mystery.

Hopefully the builder's will respect the history of the site, and preserve those parts that reveal it's lost past. Over here, the rich and famous have taken to rebuilding old barns into posh households, and usually preserve as much of the structure and history as possible.

How they get rid of the pony odor is a mystery, of course, but I guess anything can be done with enough money.

Buy the place up... I bet it will be a greaet investment.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Ozfemme said...

Love your work.

Brian Hughes said...


I'm must admit, I'm one of these people who like to see old buildings modernised ('s better than seeing 'em pulled down), just so long as the owners incorporate enough of the original features not to make it a rebuild, don't bugger about with the structure too much and don't go around pretending that it's now an eco-friendly building when, quite obviously, a fifteen bedroom, five and a half acre construction (regardless of what it's made from) is about as eco-friendly and aesthetically incongruous to the surrounding landscape pleasing as a tyre dump. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the new landlords, whoever they are, remain sympathetic to the needs of this old barn.


You're just saying that because it's true. (If anyone reading this would like to support our cause, cheques and postal orders are, of course, payable to the Harris & Hughes Restoration of Full Beer Intoxication Fund, Fleetwood.)

Feral Beast said...

Isn't there a law preventing them from changing the building 'coz there's a law that prevents them from changing at least 100 year old buildings?

Brian Hughes said...

Mr. Beast,

Not in Britain...although they do have to apply for planning permission and stuff. I'm sure it's all above board and legal...

Jayne said...

Great research and pics by the Urban Exploration Committee :)
Curved stone at doorway - possibly for some type of portcullis gate?
Perhaps the original grange burnt down/was demolished in one of King Hal's temper tantrums against the church and they rebuilt on the remaining foundations and cobbled walls with random build lying about the place?
“R.H. W-R. RT. RE” = Right Hand Window Replaced, Remitted Terms, Renegotiating Expenses :P

Brian Hughes said...


The portculis could be onto something there. (I'm only saying that, of course, because we've got our own theory along similar lines, about which we'll be elaborating on that presently.)

I suspect the original grange was demolished during the dissolution. Certainly Furness Abbey caught the fiscal backhand of Henry the Eighth so I'be very surprised if the grange survived much beyond that.

'R.H. W-R. R.T. R.E.' Roast Horse: Wash, Rinse. Regulo Two. Radishes. Eat?

Anonymous said...

Good to hear your curiosity remains undiminished, Bruce.

Brian Hughes said...

That's just a polite way of calling me a nosy bugger, Reuben.