Heritage at Risk: Legendary Gatehouse Rescued
Kirklees Park is home to the best group of medieval farm buildings in the region and is said to be where folk hero Robin Hood died. Thanks to a new owner and grant-aid from Historic England, the timber-framed Grade II* listed gatehouse has been renovated to become a two-bedroom home.
The legend surrounding the gatehouse
Whilst the majority of Kirklees Priory Gatehouse seems to have been built in the early 16th century, part of its timber framing is thought to have come from Kirklees Priory – a medieval nunnery founded on the site during the reign of Henry II (1154-89). The ‘gatehouse’ was almost certainly never a gatehouse but might be related to an almshouse recorded as being ‘wtoute gate’. Elements of the structure are decorated with a hunting scene, indicating that it was used by a Tudor gentleman rather than pious nuns.
The Priory is now known as the place where Robin Hood is reputed to have died after being poisoned by the abbess. Legend has it that Robin Hood shot an arrow from a window while on his deathbed and was buried where the arrow fell some 650 yards away in a nearby wood. This is marked by an early 19th century monument and is known as Robin Hood’s Grave.
The gatehouse had been on the Heritage At Risk Register since 1998 but was removed last year after it was repaired and put to new use. Historic England helped to fund repairs to the envelope of the building including specialist glass for the windows. Once the building was watertight, the owner was able to get on with internal repairs and convert the gatehouse to a two bedroom home. The new home was only on the market a few days before it was snapped up and the new occupiers were keen to move in before the end of Autumn 2018.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like this with so much history?
The success of repairing this historic building has led to discussions between the owner and Historic England about opportunities to tackle other Grade I and II* buildings in the estate that are considered to be at risk.
20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register
This year we are celebrating 20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England’s tool for shining a light on the listed buildings and places in England that need the most help. Looking back over the last 20 years, huge progress has been made in saving our heritage and giving it new uses.