As of 2016, the New Forest township, which adjoins Arkengarthdale in North Yorkshire, has an estimated population of just 10 people, one of the lowest in the entire county. The only settlements here, are a few hamlets consisting of isolated farms which dot the wide, open moorland that, as you can guess from the name, was once covered in dense forest when this area was first settled. One of these farms that definitely isn’t contributing to the paltry population figures, is the weathered cluster of buildings that constitutes the lonely farmstead of Holgate.

An overview of the farmstead. Holgate House is on the left, with Shepherd's House in the centre, and Tyled House to the right - both of these had been repurposed as barns at the time of dereliction.
An overview of the farmstead. Holgate House is on the left, with Shepherd's House in the centre, and Tyled House to the right - both of these had been repurposed as barns at the time of dereliction.

Although it now consists of 3 farmhouses (with 2 repurposed as barns) and associated outbuildings, Holgate was once a small, but thriving community with as many as 7 dwellings within it’s boundaries. In 1841, 26 people were living and working here, some obviously farming, but others took on more varied professions such as dressmaking, shoemaking, mining and schooling. The main farmhouse of Holgate (or Hallgate as it was known back then) can be dated to 1741 with the others dating to around the same period according to a local historian, although the adjacent ‘Shepherd’s House’ features a datestone above the door engraved with ‘1632’, suggesting the this feature was appropriated from some earlier dwelling previously on-site. I also saw mentioned in an article that there exists the scant remains of a drover’s inn – not enough for me to spot though, as on my visit I didn’t see anything that I could identify as such.

The byre attached to Shepherd's House. Hay for cows would have been placed in the wooden frame above the stalls. Also, if you look very closely to the right of the left-hand divider,
The byre attached to Shepherd's House. Hay for cows would have been placed in the wooden frame above the stalls. Also, if you look very closely to the right of the left-hand divider, "1960" has been etched into the wall.
An old 'Yorkshire' style, Victorian (probably around 1850) era kitchen range in one of the old barns -  constructed from weighty cast iron, so no wonder it was left!
An old 'Yorkshire' style, Victorian (probably around 1850) era kitchen range in one of the old barns - constructed from weighty cast iron, so no wonder it was left!

Holgate House was originally the home of wealthy yeoman Leonard Spenceley and Elizabeth Hutchinson, both of whose initials are engraved in the stone above the front door – not much is known about them though, and, in 1861, the Spenceley family name disappears from census records, despite the fact they seemed to be doing well just a few years prior having raised children and overseen the management of the sizeable estate. This is probably down to shoddy record keeping or some other boringly benign reason, rather than anything sinister or mysterious, so I’m keeping the alien and ghost conspiracy theories shelved for now unless someone spots a Grey or something hiding in one of my photos somewhere.

The original owner Leonard E. Spenceley's initials above the farmhouse door, engraved over 270 years ago (if the stone is original that is)
The original owner Leonard E. Spenceley's initials above the farmhouse door, engraved over 270 years ago (if the stone is original that is)
The front door is bolted and covered in layers of cobwebs. The property's second staircase is accessed from the door on the right.
The front door is bolted and covered in layers of cobwebs. The property's second staircase is accessed from the door on the right.
A traditional 1920/30s range that would have been used for cooking along with heating the house. The suspended beam above would have been used for hanging clothes to dry
A traditional 1920/30s range that would have been used for cooking along with heating the house. The suspended beam above would have been used for hanging clothes to dry
This narrow room was probably kept slightly cooler than the rest of the house, and used to store food.
This narrow room was probably kept slightly cooler than the rest of the house, and used to store food.
They've stripped everything but the kitchen sink!
They've stripped everything but the kitchen sink!
This colour scheme is oddly distinct from the rest of the house - with a nice fresh roll of toilet paper to boot
This colour scheme is oddly distinct from the rest of the house - with a nice fresh roll of toilet paper to boot
An interesting colour choice for the fireplace in one of the downstairs rooms, which seems to have the remains of a bird's nest expelled upon it's hearth
An interesting colour choice for the fireplace in one of the downstairs rooms, which seems to have the remains of a bird's nest expelled upon it's hearth

The population of Holgate had declined to just 7 at the beginning of the First World War and from what I can tell, none of those that remained were farming the land. This is possibly due to the difficulty in doing so – much of the Holgate estate consists of what is known as ‘intake’ land, which is essentially moorland that has been thoroughly worked and treated with lime to increase it’s fertility, with an aim to replacing the typical moorland flora with meadow grass, which is much more suited for sustaining cattle. This is however, a very labour intensive process, and is a constant battle to stop the moor encroaching once again, on the treated fields.

Ascending to the upper floor - this is actually one of two staircases in the building
Ascending to the upper floor - this is actually one of two staircases in the building
What I assume was the master bedroom given it's size - there are doors and staircases on opposing ends so you can get to any part of the ground floor quickly.
What I assume was the master bedroom given it's size - there are doors and staircases on opposing ends so you can get to any part of the ground floor quickly.
Stuck on the inside door of one of the former bedrooms - I can't find any info on what kind of business this was
Stuck on the inside door of one of the former bedrooms - I can't find any info on what kind of business this was
This poor bunny obviously couldn't get out after finding a way inside, and has mummified in a fetal-like position
This poor bunny obviously couldn't get out after finding a way inside, and has mummified in a fetal-like position

Sometime in the mid-20th century, farming at Holgate was taken up once again, most likely due to the advent of labour saving machinery and the arrival of electricity to the region until eventually, at some point in the 1990s, the final residents called it quits and left the farm to fend for itself. There was a brief flicker of hope for renovation in 1999 when Sir Anthony Milbank – inheritor of the Barningham Estate (of which Holgate is a part) announced plans to revive the farmstead in the Daily Telegraph, however these never came to fruition, and instead it’s been left to crumble, until someone with the will (and the substantial amount of cash required) to resurrect it comes along.

All furniture stripped, yet in one of the downstairs rooms, a lone pair of shoes remains
All furniture stripped, yet in one of the downstairs rooms, a lone pair of shoes remains
I counted at least 4 different layers of wallpaper - mostly floral designs.
I counted at least 4 different layers of wallpaper - mostly floral designs.
An actual flushing toilet (well at one point) in an outhouse adjoining the main residence.
An actual flushing toilet (well at one point) in an outhouse adjoining the main residence.
1950s electric cooker now savouring the great outdoors
1950s electric cooker now savouring the great outdoors
Looking down the small track located behind the centremost barn
Looking down the small track located behind the centremost barn

For more information on Holgate, the Teesdale Mercury has an excellent article on it’s history, much of which I’ve paraphrased here.

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