Sunday, 12 January 2014


The first words of L.P. Hartley's novel "The Go-Between" fit very well with my feelings about our trip down memory lane yesterday - words I was reminded of when we arrived home and put our feet up. We turned the TV on and were treated to the wonderful film version of this novel starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates.

In days long past, when my oldest three were small boys, we often spent Sundays exploring the spectacular landscape around the reservoirs near Harrogate. Swinsty, Timble, Grimwith, Gouthwaite, Scar House, Thruscross  couldn't be anywhere but Yorkshire, could they?
Once upon a time, in another life, I even thought of living up there amongst the moors and man-made lakes. The local water authority, pre-privatisation, was selling off derelict farmhouses in the late 1970s and we saw many as we explored.

One particular house stood out - Duke's House, grade II listed in 1979, near Thruscross reservoir;

House and barn. Dated 1765. For Stephen Hudson. Coursed squared gritstone
and ashlar, graduated stone slate roof. Direct-entry plan, 2-storey, 2-bay
main range with rear outshut, added bay to right; barn to left of 4 bays.
Main range: ashlar plinth, sill bands and rusticated quoins. Central 4-
panel door in eared architrave with pulvinated frieze and corniced pediment
with inscription on plaque above: 'Stephen Hudson / built / this house /
1765'. Venetian-style windows with keyed ashlar surrounds, both floors;
original glazing bars survive in part. Stone gutter brackets; corniced end
stacks, that to left external. Added bay: board door left; a stepped 3-
light flat-faced mullion window to each floor on right; shaped kneeler and
gable coping right. Barn: cart entrance to bay 2 with quoined surround and
shallow segmental arch. Byre doors left and right: quoined jambs and deep
lintels. Shaped kneeler and gable coping left. Interior, main range:
direct entry into kitchen which has fireplace with large stone surround and
keystone with fluted decoration. Right: parlour with small fireplace in
moulded stone surround with cornice. Rear: left: small room with large
blocked fireplace against rear wall, possibly the remains of a pre-1765
building; centre: stone stairs boxed in wood; right: small room with stone
shelf in rear outshut. Upper floor: left: small fireplace with corniced
mantelshelf; unheated room to right. Derelict at time of resurvey.

This pretty ruin inspired me to make a little patchwork picture (editing out a derelict barn or two)...
... but ownership of the real thing was to remain an unfulfilled dream.
Yesterday we went looking for the real Duke's House. It's not part of Mr N's history so locating it after all this time was up to me, as Google had never heard of the place. I remembered it being located near the reservoir, which was created in 1966 by flooding the village of West End.

West End, pre-flood.

I consulted maps, but could see no mention of Duke's House although there was a "Duke's Hill" near Thruscross. I knew the house was very near there so, full of confidence, I led the way.

Could this be it? Up on Duke's Hill but somehow it didn't look right. In the end we gave up, though the walk around the reservoir was well worth the effort. At home (after watching the film) I looked on the internet again and found the elusive house, now re-christened Duke's Hill Cottage - across the road and up a track from where we'd searched.


Here it is - the pretty little farmhouse, now dominated by a huge barn conversion, is just recognisable with its Venetian-style windows and corniced pediment. Not quite the renovation project I had dreamed of.

L.P. Hartley's words rang true. "The past is another country; they do things differently there."


  1. Beautiful post, Nilly - one close to my own roots and very familiar and nostalgic landscape and buildings. I agree, the 'improvements' to Duke House look more pragmatic than sensitive but also much older than seems possible. I bet there are amazing views!
    Yes, the past most certainly is another country. Axxx

    1. I seem to remember ruined barns & outbuildings from all those years ago though I missed them out of my patchwork, so I expect there was plenty of suitably aged dressed stone for the restoration. Like a Yorkshire farmer, it's now big, plain and a little unimaginative. (Sounds like I'm speaking from experience!)

  2. ~ Beautiful post, Nilly!....LOVED the picture of you and your young boys..and the baby lamb! I agree days gone by do seem like " another country"..
    Happy new week!
    Hugs maria x

    1. Yes, certainly another country - and sometimes I can't believe we're the same people, though I still see those cute little faces behind the faint age-lines!

  3. So often your posts touch on my own memories, Nelly. We had a cottage in nearby Thornthwaite when I was a child and I remember going with my parents to the last service in West End church prior to the valley being flooded. I remember returning to the abandoned homes and picking gooseberries from a garden.
    They are memories that have the quality of a dream.

    1. Incredible! We were inspired to go exploring by a recent article in World of Interiors about Padside Hall, very near Thornthwaite, which was sold in the late '70s too.

  4. Fascinating post Nilly. I love your gorgeous patchwork picture.

    Jean xx

    1. Thank you Jean! Like me - it's a bit faded now.

  5. What a lovely hearfelt post Nilly. I love the photo of you and your boys, happy days. When we revisit the past (or try to) sometimes it brings mixed feelings. I am glad you found Duke House, you were so close by. A lovely day to have an exploration. Your patchwork picture is a lovely reminder of a property so close to your heart. Jx

    1. You are right - it does bring mixed feelings. Mr N isn't one for revisiting places he liked a lot in case he feels let down.

  6. Nilly, just popped back over to say when you have visited me, i always thinks to me self, what a really nice lady! you are...And I LOVE that you would tootle along at 40 miles, as I think I would too,!!!
    Hope you didn't mind me telling you this..Happy Wednesday Nilly, I like that we are friends on here..Hugs Maria x

    1. Thank you so much Maria - you made my day!

  7. Hello Nilly, I have just found your blog by a circuitous path and I'm so pleased I did! I look forward to reading your earlier posts. Have a very Happy 2014

    1. Thank you Jane. I've quietly followed you for a while - and seen you on TV!

  8. Sad how unsympathetic the conversion of that house was. I remember The go between was a book we had to read for English in school but I can't remember the story now though. That's a lovely photo of you with your boys.

    1. The book is worth another go - and the film is excellent too.
      Very sad about the house & barn!