Derelict to dream home - The renovation of The Fieldhouse in Pilling (with audio)

PUBLISHED: 20:58 31 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 20 February 2013

The stunning restored house

The stunning restored house

It took patience, perseverance and a bit of Pilling power to bring a 17th century house back from the brink. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Click the picture on the right to start playing the audio

This recording is courtesy of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Talking Newspaper service

The charity costs 300,000 a year to operate and is entirely dependent on donations. To volunteer, or help the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Talking Newspaper service with sponsorship or donations, contact 01253 362692 or go to

It was an inauspicious start.

When couple Chris Kelly and Sue Hindle were celebrating paying more than 60,000 over the asking price for The Fieldhouse in Pilling, Sues parents thought theyd gone mad.

Theyd never been to a property auction before, explained 48-year-old Sue. It was a cold November night and it was absolutely lashing it down. We were huddled around this little table in the Golden Ball pub in the village. There must have been about 200 people there. Chris really wanted it and we ended up paying a lot more than the 15,000 reserve. I think my mum and dad were pretty shocked that we paid 77,000.

Its not surprising when you consider The Fieldhouse was nothing more than a ramshackle shed in serious danger of falling down. It hadnt been lived in for many years and it was no longer classified as a building.

Chris said:

It was a shed in a field. I came to see it and it was completely derelict. There was just this tiny bit of string holding the front door shut.

But I walked in and looked up. All you could see was this beautiful cruck. This was one of the first methods of making houses in Britain. No one had ever done anything to the building. I loved it because it was so old, to get original wattle and daub in a house was pretty amazing too. It was a wreck but it was just beautiful.

Thankfully, property developer Chris and Sue, a tourism officer for Wyre Borough Council, have patience aplenty. It took them four years to complete the restoration of their Fylde long-house and three years were spent trying to get planning permission.

But their efforts, ambitions and the buildings importance did not escape the attention of interiors expert George Clarke. The Home Show presenter wanted to feature the couples story in a new Channel 4 series, The Restoration Man, due to start this month.

Over the four years it took them to complete the restoration, and with help from the programmes research team and a building heritage and conservation expert at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris and Sue have gradually discovered the story of this historic home.

Originally built in 1632, it has been home to a handful of families including Agnes and Madge Butler, who lived there in 1890. The building was left to decay after one of its more recent residents Freda Gornall, who lived there with seven members of her family, was forced to move out because the house had never had a toilet. It is just one of the many discoveries they made.

Chris, 49, said: We found a lot of things from 1632 and they are still here, it was like working in a museum. I found a piece of wood with writing on it and you can see all the original marks on the oak when the house would have first been built. There was a birds nest in the wall too. Its been fascinating.

A new structure was built around the original building to prevent too much pressure being put on it. But there was also a long list of traditional methods used to restore the beautiful building. The roof was re-thatched, the original wattle and daub made from local willow and heather was repaired and walls, originally made from cobblestones collected from the beach were retained.

Sue said: The bathroom walls are quite traditional for Pilling. People would have collected cobbles off the beach to make them. In 1633, the beach, would have been a lot nearer to the house. We uncovered one of the original floors, too, which was also made out of cobbles.We think it may be one of the oldest buildings in the village.

Chris and Sue restored original features in each room to keep the character of the house and they now hope to extend the two-bedroom property further.

Chris said: It was on its last legs. All it would have taken was a big
gust of wind and it would have been finished off.

I love the cruck, its my favourite part of the house. Its like going into
a whales stomach! Its a very special building and I hope weve done it justice.

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