Stydd Hall and attached garden wall
Case study: Stydd Hall Farm, Darley Moor, Yeaveley, nr Ashbourne, Derbyshire (East Midlands)
List entry number: 1204898
Background and history
What connects Stydd Hall in Derbyshire and the mighty medieval castle of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria? Both owe their origins to the Knights Hospitaller. This religious and military order of medieval crusader knights eclipsed the celebrated Knights Templar. They survived down through the ages and persist in one form as the St John's Ambulance Brigade!
Stydd Hall was built on the ruins of a Knights Hospitaller preceptory. Preceptories were the home bases of the order and generated funds for the crusades. They also provided respite to the poor, the sick, pilgrims, and other travellers.
The Hospitallers at Stydd (or Yeaveley) preceptory were said to be involved with dodgy dealings. They were accused of undermining local trade with false weights and measures. The extension of their various privileges, such as freedom from tolls, further annoyed the locals.
Hospitaller preceptories were suppressed by Henry VIII and the site at Stydd was acquired by landed gentry. The present Stydd Hall, built in the 17th century, stands within the moated enclosure of the former preceptory. The Hall incorporates the remains of one the medieval preceptory buildings. The ruined north wall of the preceptory chapel stands close to the Hall. It survives to roof height and retains rich architectural detail. Buried archaeological remains surround the buildings.
Is it at risk?
The Hall became a farmhouse, serving a cattle farm. Its condition gradually became so bad that it was placed on the first Heritage at Risk Register in 1998.
Historic England worked with the previous owners to address the condition of the building and the surrounding scheduled monument. However, with much work still to do the owners decided to sell.
Tenant farmers, Mr and Mrs Avery, had to make a quick decision; buy the Hall or abandon their home. They knew that Stydd Hall was 'at risk'. Much work would be required to bring it to a good state of repair.
What's the current situation?
Historic England has provided grant aid and technical support to the Averys. The leaking roof has now been re-slated. Structural timbers have been repaired and rainwater dispersal has been improved. All are critical concerns for the well-being of a building and its occupants.
Heavy tanks had been installed in the Hall to provide a gravity-fed water supply for cattle. They were exerting unwanted stress on the historic building and had to be removed. Repairs also had to accommodate the roosting habits of bats who had made a home in the Hall.
Further work began in the summer of 2015. This concentrated on the bay windows and north tower. Roofs will be renewed and masonry will be repaired.
The condition of the attached 18th century garden wall remains a concern. But further repairs will see this too resolved. Stydd Hall will soon be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register, its future secure.