Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Property with a Historic Feel

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Property with a Historic Feel

Article excerpt

Byline: Aranda Rahbarkouhi

LOOKING at Oakpool today, it's hard to imagine the property's former life as a bastle house - built to withstand savage attacks from cruel Border Reivers.

However, it's four foot thick stone walls are a gentle reminder that this house was built to last. And last it has for more than 453 years in Allendale, Northumberland.

Built around 1550 by Thomas Wilson, the Grieve of the Keenly Grieveship, the house became a safe haven for Thomas and his famiy during a period of violent raids.

Today the area lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has one of the greatest concentrations of bastles in the country.

"When we first moved into the property, it was tough. It had stood empty for 20 years, so we had no heating, no water and no drainage system. We did, however, have a telephone," said owner Ruth Finn, now 68.

She added: "We didn't have carpets or curtains for 10 years after we moved in, so it was the best feeling in the world when we eventually got them."

Back then, Ruth and husband Rodney, now 78, had adopted the 'Good Life' with their young children.

She said: "I made my own bread and churned my own butter. We even ended up becoming a bit of a B&B for a while. Rodney had his own estate agents business in Washington."

Ruth will be sad to leave her characterful home which has given her such pleasure over the years. She has so many good memories of the property that she has even written a book about its past.

She said: "My husband Rodney had fallen in love with Oakpool Farm when he was a boy. He used to fish here with his grandad at the pool which gives the house its name.

"Rodney's mother used to tell the tale about one evening when she was taking a stroll along the river when she heard a lion roar.

"Her husband told her to stop being silly, but she was adamant and when they peered in the window, there was a lion in what is now our lounge! It turned out that a local circus was using the house for their animals during the winter. That's how I came to write my book called 'Lions In My Lounge'. …

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