Hallsford - the farm
Hallsford is a relatively small farm from a national perspective, only 73 hectares or 180 acres. 10% of this is woodland and buildings.
We are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful and undiscovered areas of England, that wedge of land north of Hadrian's Wall, south of the border. Far from London this area was for centuries a law unto itself.
The farm was originally part of Netherby Estates, owned by the Grahams, one of the large border clans. The older buildings on the site date back to the 16th century. One building in particular, a 'Bastle', clearly dates from this period.
Bastles are structures peculiar to the borders, where in times of potential threat - there were plenty - animals could be housed downstairs behind thick walls and doors, and human habitation was above this. The only access to the first floor was by ladder. This clearly deterred most raiders.
The farm presumably thrived and over the next few centuries another house was built, along with barns and pigsties to form an enclosed, gated courtyard. This work was completed in 1795 a few decades after Bonnie Prince Charlie marched through this area on his way south. Security, as you will appreciate, was still very much a consideration, the only entrance being through the main courtyard gate and the main house windows were shuttered.
In this section we will hopefully give you a feel of what happens on a borders farm in the early 21st century. Some things will have changed a great deal, others, not so much perhaps. The pyres, the real animal and human suffering during 2001 is something this area hasn't seen since the time of the Reivers. It is something Helen and I will never forget.