Grand designs at Priory ruins

Anne Whyte at Beauvale Farm following extensive renovations
Anne Whyte at Beauvale Farm following extensive renovations

THE couple turning their farm in Moorgreen into a visitor attraction say they have reached the halfway stage of the project.

Tony and Anne Whyte, who are hosting a Medieval fair at the site this weekend, are aiming to make the remains of Beauvale Priory on their land a tourist hotspot and open it up to the public.

Beauvale Farm's new coffee shop/icecream parlour following extensive renovations

Beauvale Farm's new coffee shop/icecream parlour following extensive renovations

Stonemasons and archeologists have just completed a three-year stint restoring the priory remains, and work transforming the gatehouse into a coffee shop and ice cream parlour was finished this week.

The couple are already open to community groups to visit, but admit they still have a long way to go.

However, Anne says she has no regrets about opening her home up to the public.

“You’ve got to go with it and embrace it,” she said. “It’s not been accessible for years and its a shame because the history gets lost.

Anne Whyte at Beauvale Farm's new coffee shop/icecream parlour following extensive renovations

Anne Whyte at Beauvale Farm's new coffee shop/icecream parlour following extensive renovations

“It’s a massive part of local history as well as national.

“It’s part of everybody’s history so you can’t really deny it them.”

The couple already hosts an open day once a year and welcome regular visits from schoolchildren and various groups and organisations such as walking groups and history groups.

Eastwood Art Group visited last week and left some of their paintings of the Priory behind to be framed and put up in the new coffee shop.

Open in time for this weekend’s fair, the coffee shop houses all the original gatehouse brickwork from the Carthusian Monastery, which dates back to 1343.

Builders even managed to uncover an original doorway, which they used as an entrance into a small kitchen area.

Anne said: “It was such a historical find. There’s even pieces of iron in the brickwork that the door would have hung on.”

The next half of the project will restore and consolidate the Prior’s house and boundary walls, and transform the rest of the gatehouse into a classroom for school children.

The couple secured a £225,000 grant to complete the first phase of the Priory remains, and paid £40,000 out of their own pockets to build the coffee shop.

They plan on applying for further grants for the remainder of the work.

Nationally, English Heritage considers Beauvale Priory to be one of the most important Monastic sites and the classroom building houses the oldest Carthusian wood in the country.

Monks lived on the site for 200 years and were all buried in what is now the couple’s orchard.

Remains of the monks houses underground are evident in the uneven surface to the field around the Priory.

n The Medieval fair at Beauvale Abbey Farm is being on Saturday and Sunday.

The farm will host a medieval market and living history encampment allowing people to travel back in time and experience life in the Middle Ages

There will be talks and guided walks and because it is a working farm people will be able to see the animals and buy local produce.

The fair will be open on Saturday between 10am and 5pm and on Sunday from 10am until 4pm.