Our Story

From ruin and industrial tip to a cultural experience and wildlife haven in 45 years. In 1973 Jess and Chris Mortimer had been looking for their new home and an exciting project to convert. After viewing several windswept chapels on hills in February they stumbled across an old industrial yard with stone built stables and heaps of cinders scattered over the site from road to river edge. But the charm was not able to be disguised; river, woodland and clearing – the essence of human habitation engulfed the whole site while the surrounding hills and steep banks granted shelter from the Lancashire gales. ‘Mad’ shouted friends, colleagues and in-laws.

Nevertheless, the young family with two boys, moved with two summer caravans into the stables, a hoover twin tub providing hot water for washing both clothes and people and two gas rings to keep them fed placed on a wardrobe on its side. They set to work: Roof repairs, windows, floors and walls went up over the first 2 years changing the building to resemble the outline of a family home… As passionate gardener even then, Chris started the mammoth task of converting not only the stables but also the debris, left by 350 years of industrial activity (Please find more about this on our HISTORY page) into a garden now attracting hundreds of visitors a year. The belief that the garden should be of equal importance to the home made every non-rain day an outside one and inside jobs had to wait for the plentiful rainy days of Lancashire. No doubt, that Chris’ families’ trade of builders and wood workers has played part in his passion for craftsmanship, something very evident in all aspects of the house and the follies you will find dotted around. After 10 years the shouts from previous sceptics turned into admiration, and the garden was accepted onto the National Garden Scheme in 1989.