Feb 232017

The ruins of Crackpot Hall lie about a mile east of Keld on the northern slope of Swaledale. There may have been a building on this site since the 16th century when a hunting lodge was maintained for Thomas, the first Baron Wharton, who visited the Dale occasionally to shoot the red deer. Survey work by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has shown that the building has changed many times over the years. At one time it even had a heather or “ling” thatched roof.

The current ruin is of a farmhouse dating from the mid 18th century. It was an impressive two-storey building with a slate roof and matching “shippons” or cow sheds at each end for animals. The building may also have been used as mine offices, as intensive lead mining was carried out in the area, and there were violent disputes over mine boundaries in the 18th century.

In the 1930s Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley wrote of a wild 4-year-old child living named Alice. On 7 November 2015 BBC Radio 3 broadcast a documentary in the Between the Ears strand titled Alice at Crackpot Hall about the story.

The current building was abandoned in the 1950s because of subsidence. Crackpot Hall has been saved from further decay by Gunnerside Estate with the aid of grants from the Millennium Commission and European Union through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The name Crackpot is said to be Viking for “a deep hole or chasm that is a haunt of crows”.

The spoil heaps are from old lead mining which run all through Swaledale.

I’d love to have the house higher up the hill – assuming that it had all mod cons; doors and winows would be a help, too.

 Posted by at 12:10 am

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