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Sawrey Ground and Attached Buildings

A Grade II Listed Building in Crosscanonby, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7331 / 54°43'59"N

Longitude: -3.4375 / 3°26'15"W

OS Eastings: 307532

OS Northings: 538514

OS Grid: NY075385

Mapcode National: GBR 4FFQ.L3

Mapcode Global: WH6ZH.59BD

Entry Name: Sawrey Ground and Attached Buildings

Listing Date: 21 November 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1405497

Location: Crosscanonby, Allerdale, Cumbria, CA15

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale

Civil Parish: Crosscanonby

Built-Up Area: Crosby

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Cross Canonby St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

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An early C18 vernacular building with later additions, connected with Beatrix Potter.


A two-storey vernacular house possibly built during the 1730s with later additions and alterations.

MATERIALS: It is built of rubble beneath slate roofs and is rendered externally in its entirety.

PLAN: Approximately L-shaped.

EXTERIOR: The house's front (south) elevation is of three bays with a slightly offset stone-built pitch-roofed front porch bearing a datestone of 1737 and containing an inset panelled timber front door. Horned sash windows to both floors flank the porch. Chimney stacks are modern brick now rendered. The right return has kneelers at each end of the gable and a single-storey lean to containing a WC and a former washhouse is attached to the gable end. The east part of the rear elevation has an extension housing the former dairy beneath a catslide roof, to which a modern single-storey lean to porch has been attached. Windows are modern and the render to both this part of the rear elevation and the east gable end is incised. An attached rendered barn and former stable projects north from the west part of the house's rear elevation. Double timber doors with strap hinges on the barn's east elevation give access into the building while an adjacent former stable door has now been blocked and a window inserted into its upper part. The barn's gable has kneelers to both ends.

INTERIOR: In its present format the house has two front rooms and three rear rooms to the ground floor and three bedrooms plus a small bedroom/storeroom to the upper floor. Access from the front door leads into the right front room where a modern fire surround has been inserted. Access into the left front room is through a wide basket arch. This room has a modern fire surround of similar style to that in the right front room. A blocked window in the front wall has recently been made into a decorative feature and given a Tudor pointed arch. Each room has a single exposed timber ceiling beam and it is claimed that there is a lath and plaster ceiling to one room and a 'rush' ceiling to the other. A doorway from the right front room leads into a rear hallway where a timber plank doorway on the right gives access into the former dairy with exposed ceiling beams now occupied by a kitchen. On the left towards the end of the hallway the former kitchen has been subdivided into two rooms; one has recent sliding cupboards fitted where the kitchen range stood, while the other is now a modern bathroom. Also in the hallway is a spiral stone staircase to the upper floor with modern handrails, balusters and newel posts.

On the right towards the top of the staircase there is a modernised rear bedroom with a sash window and roof light. The small landing consists of a painted stone slab with ceiling beams above. Off the landing there is a plank doorway giving access into a small bedroom/storeroom above the former dairy now kitchen. Two stone steps at right angles to the landing give access through a plank door into the right front bedroom which in turn leads through another plank door into the left front bedroom. Fireplaces have been removed and single ceiling beams to each front bedroom appear to have been plastered over and painted. Small wall apertures claimed to have formerly been spice cupboards are found in each bedroom and have been given modern doors.

Access to the former stable in the barn is now via an inserted door from the ground floor rear hallway of the house. The stable has been converted into a workshop and all early fixtures and fittings removed other than a couple of ceiling beams. Doors to the farmyard and the barn have been blocked.

The barn is flag and cobble floored and is of three bays with a former hayloft above the stable at its south end. Roof timbers are a mix of early and modern. Air vents, an owl hole and the winnowing door have all been blocked but are still visible from the interior only.

Both the WC and former washhouse display a mix of early and modern roof timbers. The washhouse contains a blocked window in its east wall that is only visible internally.


There is a datestone of '1737 TJJ' above the door. It has been suggested that the building may at one time have incorporated what is now an adjoining cottage and that the datestone may refer to a restoration of a building already existing here. The Ordnance Survey Map of 1895 suggests that Sawrey Ground and the adjoining cottage were separate by that time. Maintenance work undertaken at Sawrey Ground recently revealed five blocked windows on the front elevation, two to the ground floor and three above. It is claimed that the archives mention a name of Jackson (possibly the TJJ on the datestone) and 'cottages and gardens' here. At an unspecified date the building became a farm. The house was extended to the rear and additional outbuildings constructed.

It is thought that the farm was bought by Helen Beatrix Heelis in 1927, better known as the artist, children's writer and sheep breeder, Beatrix Potter (1866-1943). Potter used much of her royalties to purchase land, farms and stock in the Lake District and it is possible that the farm was renamed Sawrey Ground at this time as a nod to the hamlet of Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, where she was by this time living and working. Potter installed one of her employees, John Mackereth, his wife, Sarah Jane, and daughter, Isobel, in Sawrey Ground to run the farm, and in 1944 the year after Potter's death ownership of the building passed to Sarah Jane, then to Isobel, wife (deceased) of the current owner. After Potter's husband, William Heelis, died in 1945, those parts of her estate which comprised 15 farms, numerous cottages and over 4000 acres of land in the Lake District, passed to the National Trust.

Numerous alterations to the building have been made during the latter half of the C20. These include the conversion of a former attached dairy into a kitchen, the conversion of a former kitchen into a bathroom, the fitting of two new fire surrounds in the living room, the heightening of a rear bedroom, construction of a rear porch, removal of original fixtures and fittings from the stable, and demolition of some of the detached associated farm outbuildings. The house was re-roofed and during renovation of the living room a blocked doorway was found to the side of the fireplace in the left living room. Despite these alterations the building's plan has remained as depicted on the 1895 map.

Reasons for Listing

* Date: The building has a date stone of 1737 and may have earlier origins;
* Survival: The buildings retain a number of early features, which include a stone stair, spice cupboards, plank doors, and early timbers. There is evidence to suggest other historic features survive behind more recent alterations;
* Historic Interest: It was formerly owned by Beatrix Potter and purchased out of the royalties from her books. It is one of over 40 building within Cumbria, most listed at Grade II and one listed at Grade II*, which have an association with Beatrix Potter and her work.

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