Building Recording of farm buildings at Dalebrook Farm, Derbyshire

In December 2020 Archaeological Research Services Ltd was commissioned to undertake a historic building recording of farm buildings at Dalebrook Farm, Eastmoor, Derbyshire. The origins of the site date to the early 19th century, with a rectangular farmhouse and ‘T’ shaped courtyard range of farm buildings. By 1875, the farm buildings had been redeveloped into a ‘U’ shaped plan. The historic building recording related to the northern and eastern wings within the courtyard complex, which had been constructed in the early 19th century. These buildings had been developed to their current scale by the later 19th century, but had been extensively altered to reflect changes in the way they were used.

The southern elevation of the northern wing. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021.
An oblique view of the southern elevation of the eastern wing. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021.
A low blocked door with timber panelling and horse's name signage above. © copyright ARS Ltd 2021.

The buildings appear to have originally been associated with cattle husbandry, with this emphasis shifting to equestrian husbandry when the site was occupied by George Hardy in the later 19th century. The eastern wing in particular contained numerous elements in the fabric which pointed towards its phasing, development and changing use. Several blocked cattle doors are visible on the ground floor, with ventilation and pitching holes on the first floor indicating its likely use as a hay loft. In the later 19th century, the eastern wing was repurposed as stables as demonstrated by the timber stalls and timber name signage. The timber name signs were of particular interest, suggesting that these horses had a special emphasis on the farm and that they could have been riding horses. This could have had a connection with Chesterfield Racecourse, which had been around 10km to the east. It could also suggest that they were hackney horses, used to pull the coach or trap and not just for ploughing. These horses were usually chosen due to their elegance or strong spirited nature, and were provided different accommodation to the farm horses. A range was also installed on the first floor in the later 19th century, indicating that the area was likely used as domestic accommodation for a farm labourer. The timber staircase linking to the stables below suggests that this may have been installed for a groom.

A sign stating the name 'Cricket' and a horse shoe within the eastern wing. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021.
The timber stalls infilled with brick on the southern interior wall of the eastern wing's central northern room. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021.
An oblique view of the southern interior wall within the eastern wing's central first floor room. The photograph shows the central range flanked by two doors to the Hardy extension. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021.

The original function of the northern wing had been obscured by later developments. It appears to have been repurposed as a bank barn by the mid-19th century, with a cattle house and hay loft function. However, the building had also been extensively redeveloped as a hay barn, with an open southern elevation featuring stone piers. The exact date of this phasing was made unclear by conflicting features within the fabric, though it could have been within the 19th century.

Archaeological Research Services Ltd