Far House

Far House on a crisp Winter afternoon.
Far House on a crisp Winter afternoon.

This long derelict 18th-century farmhouse is situated mere metres away from another crumbling ruin in Middle-Garsdale that I captured on the same Winter’s day on Christmas Eve in 2018, and serves as yet another addition to my ever-expanding catalogue of obscure Dales ruins.

There’s not much of note here—like it’s neighbour, the dwelling has been used to shelter livestock for a number of decades, and subsequently, the floor is hidden under a foot-thick layer of muck that it isn’t all-too-pleasant to wade through. Still, the old cast-iron Victorian range is still in place to give the place a little character. I opened it to see if there was a last meal still inside, but alas anything edible that was perhaps once there has long since vaporised—interestingly though, the hinge offered no resistance at all, and swung open eerily easily as if recently oiled—that’s 19th century craftsmanship for you.

Going by local records, there were once 2 Far Houses in Garsdale, which causes some confusion when determining their histories. It seems as if one (or both) fluctuated between being known as ‘Far House’ and ‘East Gill’, although going by an early 20th century OS map I checked, this example was listed as ‘Far House’ and East Gills was marked against a property lying hidden amidst a plantation of conifers in Upper Garsdale—most likely a further mission is required to seek out that one and find out what, if anything, remains.

A Victorian range in the dung-filled ruins of Far House
A Victorian range in the dung-filled ruins of Far House

The Far House in the photos above is first recorded in 1771 on Thomas Jeffrey’s Map of Yorkshire, under the name of ‘East Gill’1 and was mostly occupied by farmers throughout the years, although it did have a brief stint as the home of the Reverend of Middleton Church2, and later, a quarryman3 and his family in 1891. From thereon, the house seems to have been lived in up to 1929, before presumably falling into dereliction — the elements have had 90 years free-reign to batter the exterior into submission, and anonymise the interior to such an extent that it’s hard to imagine anyone calling it home. The building isn’t all that special, and Garsdale seems to be in the midst of a mass-exodus at present anyway, with ‘For Sale’ signs outside most residences and others only serving as holiday homes in the warmer months. With no water, electrical connection or even a manageable road to serve it, there’s no-way this one’s getting fixed up and repurposed. The views are good though—it’s not a bad spot to die.

Much of the information on this house I sourced from this document – which briefly chronicles the residents of many of Garsdale’s scattered dwellings. It’s well worth a look to get some context on the occupational makeup of the dale throughout the centuries, and a glimpse at how confined families were to the region, with generations of residents seemingly living out their entire lives in the Dale.

  1. Which makes sense given its position in relation to West Gill close by.
  2. It wouldn’t have been the same church as shown in this link—that was built in 1878—however there is a date stone in the grounds which serves as evidence of a former structure on the site.
  3. Almost certainly in employment at Blades Outrake quarry just a short walk up the fell.
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