The “Old Chapel” at Barden Tower – saved and restored
The Priests House, nestled on the Bolton Abbey Estate in the Upper Wharfedale Valley in North Yorkshire, has been much-loved for many years offering a mix of fine dining, private medieval banquets and romantic weddings.
For over eleven years it has been the dream of everyone concerned to renovate the chapel underneath and to the rear of the House and bring it back into use as a new function venue. Works after years of frustration and delay eventually started in October 2015.
The externals commenced first, with roof and gable end repairs, repointing using original materials and mortar, drainage rerouted and repaired, a stone wall rebuilt, new electrical supply channels dug and the leaded windows replaced. Next, the interior which required a complete new floor with heating system inbuilt, electrics with most cabling embedded, ceilings re-latted and plastered, walls cleaned, and the cellar to the kitchen converted into a food preparation area. Little additional décor was actually felt necessary - it didn’t need it – other than the installation of completely bespoke metalwork made by local craftsmen, Iron Octopus, consisting of 3 chandeliers, wall lights, display stands and rails, all of matching design. In addition, a purpose built bar was commissioned and the replacement of an emergency door, made of wood from the same forest as previously used hung! Some of the original artifacts in the Chapel such as the font, wooden screeds and a wringer have been retained and made features of.
“Now complete, it is just stunning” says Debbie, “I am so pleased that this quite unique facility has now been given a completely new lease of life, something which everyone can now enjoy. We will be able to use the space for many other purposes including corporate functions, funeral receptions, music nights, and wine tasting evenings and it will also be available for use by the local community.”
The Chapel was originally built by Henry Clifford the 10th Lord of Skipton. His father, who was fighting for the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses, feared for his well-being so sent his son to live in the Cumbrian hills. Henry returned and chose to make his principal residence at Barden rather than Skipton. He extended the Tower considerably and, at the turn of the 16th century, developed the Priest House and Chapel.
This unique cluster of buildings is of great historical importance: three Grade 1 Listed Buildings on a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Hunting Tower was originally one of six in the Forest of Barden and the seat of administration where Forest Courts would have been held.
“We have tried to maintain all the features of the original chapel and we know both the Estate and Heritage England are absolutely delighted with the outcome. We now have preserved a historic building for generations to come, something that we are extremely proud of,” Debbie concludes.
Prior to restoration - Boarded up windows, rotten flooring, discoloured stonework.........
Part way through - Glass replaced, new flooring, electric cabling, trial settings...........
The finished article - Chandeliers, baby grand piano, revarnished roof, windows, cleaned up stonework.