Kirklees Priory - Conservation of Robin Hood’s Cottage

  • © 1 context view from east as existing - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 2 west gable as existing - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 3 west turret as existing prior to doorway installation - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 4 west gable detail as existing - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 5 existing truss being assessed for repair - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 6 west gable under repair showing primitive carving - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 7 east gable under repair - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 8 New west doorway being created  - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 9 context view from east as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 10 View from the South east as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 11 detail view from east as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 12 Context view from the west of new door as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 13 east gable after scaffold removed - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 14 detail view from south - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 15 West gable as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 16 east gable as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 17 Interior S. Bed as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 18 N bedroom interior as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 19 interior as conserved N bedroom - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire
  • © 20 historic door as conserved - Photo credit Wiles and Maguire

Application Type

AABC Conservation

Level of Award

Highly Commended

Region

Yorkshire & Humberside

Local Authority Area

Calderdale

Information about this scheme

The Gatehouse (or Robin Hood’s Cottage) is listed Grade II* and sits in the scheduled ancient monument that is Kirklees Priory. This was founded as a Cistercian Nunnery in the C12, during the reign of Henry II. The priory was suppressed in November 1539, when it had a prioress and seven nuns.  It seems likely that the present structure post-dates the Reformation and was the original site of the first domestic development. Thought to be the most important architectural feature of the building is the timber framed west facing gable.  This features an oriel window supported on bold bulbous brackets, with to either side timber framing of a rare type with off-set studs.  Since 1610 it was first written that the Gatehouse building at Kirklees Priory is the place where Robin Hood died, his proceeding arrow shot marking the place where he wanted to be buried. While the C12 Priory itself would have been contemporary with any real-life Robin, the earliest parts of the Gatehouse building will date to the C15. Nevertheless, the legend is dear to the local people of the district. In the mid C20 the Priory Park had become a run-down aristocratic estate with little maintenance being carried out. The roofscape of the Gatehouse is a complex set of gables and valleys and water penetrated in several places causing the gable frames and the floors to rot. By the late 1990s Historic England funded rescue works to introduce a permanent scaffold to stop the collapse. While this stabilized the structure the grid work of scaffold all but obscured the timber frame and made access to the interior hazardous. The whole of the Priory Park was eventually bought by a local business owner as a family home and he engaged with Historic England to start the methodical conservation of the neglected historic building stock. Following a full building investigation into the extent of the decay and the archaeological development of the structure led to proposals for repair and conversion to a 2-bed residence. The most radical aspects of the scheme were to create a new door opening in a turret feature on the west elevation and the creation of an internal staircase. In both cases these were introduced in areas where archaeological research had shown significant previous change. Prior to the conservation works this building was in a ruinous state with the historic fabric shrouded in scaffolding. If it had become a total loss then the efficacy of this building as such a powerful folk legend would have been lost with it.  The careful conservation of this building and the retention of as much of the ancient fabric as possible maintains an important cultural bridge for this community to a historical, legendary age and at regular times the building can be viewed by the public.

Credits

Conservation Architect

Wiles and Maguire Ltd

Client

Main Contractor

Historic Property Restoration Ltd

Quantity Surveyor

RST Consulting

Structural Engineer

Blackett Ord Conservation

Project Funder

Historic England

Primary Use Class

Class C3 - Dwelling Houses