Beamsley Hospital sits in the Yorkshire countryside, not far from Skipton. It was founded in 1593 by the Countess of Cumberland who had seen “many old women in and around Skipton, decrepit and broken down by old age…” The almhouse remained in use well into the twentieth century, until its last resident left in 1980. We took on the hospital in 1983 and soon began our repairs. By 2016, we felt Beamsley was in need of a makeover.
Our team has been hard at work throughout January and February undertaking a complete programme of refurbishment for the building. The kitchen has been remodelled, with new bespoke painted units, a dishwasher and a fridge freezer. We have also added new painted timber panelling and ceramic goods to the bathroom. Both the kitchen and bathroom were fitted by joiners at GI Hopley in Settle.
We’ve also limewashed and repainted all of the walls, with paint generously provided by Farrow & Ball. Ian Bolton rewaxed the elm floors, while decorator Mark Nevin from Nevin of Edinburgh skilfully regrained the doors to the circular chapel. Graining imitates the finishes of hardwoods such as oak or mahogany – a ‘faux finish’ that makes the door appear older than it actually is.
The chapel doors
Many of our Landmarks contain original handprinted curtains by our co-founder Lady Smith and Beamsley Hospital is no exception. We’ve revamped her curtains to give them a new lease of life. New curtains have been added too. Overseen by our Furnishing Manager John Evetts, who chose the fabric and determined the size, curtains have been made for the kitchen and single room by housekeepers Susan Wright and Ann Quinby. The sitting room also features new sofas and chairs sourced by our Furnishings Team.
New sofas and chairs in the sitting room
In the main bedroom, look out for this remarkable Georgian painted pine chest still on its original stand. The chest still retains vibrant colours after more than 200 years in the Yorkshire Dales. The inscription reads “This CHEST belongeth to the MOTHER and SISTERS in the ALMSHOUSE at BEAMSLEY.”
The comfort of our guests is always a priority for Landmark. We replaced the old storage heaters with brand new ‘rointe’ heaters and added a thick layer of sheepwool insulation into the roof space. It can be difficult to preserve the historical integrity of our buildings while providing modern amenities. To learn more about how we achieve this balance and keep our Landmarks warm, read our blog-post from our Buildings Maintenance Co-ordinator Gavin Robinson.
While the roof was being insulated, we uncovered the original bell that called the residents of the almshouse to prayer. The inscription reads ‘SOLI DEO GLORIA 1675’, meaning ‘Glory to God alone.’ The bell has an interesting history. There was a medieval bellfoundry in York, restarted after the reformation by William Oldfield in about 1620. He was succeeded by Abraham Smith and William Curedon, who cast bells until 1663.
The bell foundry business continued with Samuel I Smith, who worked from 1662 until 1709, casting the Beamsley Hospital bell in 1675. His son Samuel II Smith took over the business, and when he died in 1731, he bequeathed it to his brother James, who seems to have disposed of it. We’re extremely grateful to David Bagley, Chris Pickford and George Dawson for sharing the history behind the bell.
With the refurbishments complete, now is the perfect time to visit Beamsley Hospital. Its 17th-century inhabitants had to abide by 11 rules that we still keep on display, including one for all our visitors: “That the Mother and Sisters do all of them Indevour to live peaceably and quietly among themselves.”
Book your stay at Beamsley Hospital here.
Get a 360 degree look at the refurbished Beamsley Hospital in our interactive tour