In Harthilll, England, stands a ruined barn. It faces a castle motte from Norman times. The castle itself has gone but the old walls are nice.
Harthill is a nice friendly village in Nottinghamshire, England. An ice cream van sits by the pond most days, selling its own Parnhams ice cream from a machine. .It is the best ice cream in the world. I hope it is still there.
I have spent hours renovating this old barn in my mind, but apart from adding a sold oak balcony at this end, to face the motte, the outside will not be touched. All the finterior oak framing will stand alone inside while acting to hold up the external wall by some kind of bracing katticework.
Don’t scoff. I used to work for Frith and Taylor, Architects, A/ARIBA in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, when I first left school. As well as printing out plans in the old stables downstairs in what had been an old inn, I used to sometimes accompany the boss or one of the draughtsmen on site visits to stately homes.
One time. aged 16, we cycled out to Worksop Manor to measure up the old stables ready for modernisation under Captain Farr’s direction. His racehorses were going to have the best.
Remember it was only a decade before, that many stately piles had been demolished as too expensive to retain. Existing ones were being modernised, concretised, until Prince Charles put his foot down. (I had his amazing book. Wonder where it went in all my moves).
Mr Frith, sadly, has gone (lovely family man, his son is now a concert pianist). While I was working there, this same son had taken a run up to the modern glass door of their home, missed the handle, and went straight through the glass! He was fine. Toughened glass came along soon sfter.
So I have absorbed a bit of architectural knowhow over the years. Here in country Austtralia I worked for surveyors who also worked with stately homes, though none of these were over 200 years old, so it took a lot to impress me.
So, Kevin of Grand Designs, this may be a fantasy, but if I win the $10,000,000 lottery we have a programme. I think me and Frith and Taylor could come up with something Prince Charles would approve of.
One slight problem. The property is not for sale. I think it may even be under a covenant. But this means no one else can come an ruin it.
Next time you have difficulty sleeping, stare intently at this photo, and close your eyes and imagine what it could be like. Sweet dreams.