Beamsley Hospital

Near Skipton, North Yorkshire

Overview

This curious, circular almshouse has seven rooms encircling a chapel which you too must cross to reach certain rooms, just like the 16th-century ladies who lived here. All around is the beauty of Yorkshire and its moorland, castles and great houses.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Single, 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
5
4 nights from
£361 equivalent to £18.05 per person, per night

A circular, stone almshouse

Set back from the conventional row of dwellings on the main road lies this circular stone building. In it were rooms for seven women, encircling a chapel, through which most of them had to pass to reach their doors, a daily encouragement to piety. Using its oddly shaped rooms and repeatedly crossing the chapel is a curious experience, bringing you close to the subtle yet vigorous Elizabethan mind. The bell, still hanging in the chapel, is particularly popular with children.

Surrounded by Yorkshire's beauty

Beamsley is not far from Skipton, Ilkley and Bolton Abbey and is surrounded by the beauty of Yorkshire with its moorland, castles and great houses. The 11 rules of the Hospital from 1665 are still on display, so you can see how the ladies were expected to live. The hospital was founded in 1593 by the Countess of Cumberland at a time when the poor could depend only upon private charity. Her building is an Elizabethan conceit, alluding both to the six circles, or annulets, on her husband's coat of arms and to the round churches of the Templars.

‘So near to so many places to visit we could have stayed here for a month – so we will probably come back again and again.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

‘So near to so many places to visit we could have stayed here for a month – so we will probably come back again and again.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Through a stone gateway with Almshouses on either side, stands Beamsley Hospital. The pretty market town of Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales,' is the nearest town and from here there are ancient castles, interesting towns and wild countryside all within easy reach.

Ilkley lies waiting to be explored. A 19th century spa town, Ilkley is still renowned today for its fresh air and fantastic countryside. It is the perfect base for walkers, with tea rooms and a museum to enjoy. 

Bolton Abbey is perched in the heart of the Yorkshire landscape, enjoy active walks, explore with children, or simply relax with a picnic by the river. 

Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is a volunteer run heritage railway, and an excellent way to travel around the area, and enjoy the views. They run special evening outings in the summer months, where you get to experience travel in original Victorian carriages. 

Another great way to enjoy the countryside is by taking a Skipton Boat Trip, either skippering your own hired boat, or enjoying a guided trip. 

Pacevale Hall and Gardens are a hidden gem of 24 acres of formal and woodland gardens, all set on a hillside so you enjoy the fabulous views of the Yorkshire Moors. 

Close by in Skipton is the Craven Museum and Gallery (7 miles) and Cliffe Castle in Keighley (11 miles). You can gain free entry to exhibitions at these places with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

For more information and ideas of things to do during your stay at Beamsley Hospital, take a look at our Pinterest Map

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Ilkley – 5 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes there are two car parking spaces about 10m from the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and a smokeless fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of fuel, however details of local sources will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a shower over the bath. There is an additional wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No.
  • Does this Landmark have low headroom?

    Yes, some of the doorways have low headroom.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed).

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Founded by Margaret, Countess of Cumberland

The inscription above the archway as you enter the Hospital announces that it was founded by Margaret, Countess of Cumberland in 1593, and completed by her daughter, Lady Anne Clifford. Queen Elizabeth gave her consent to the foundation in a special charter. In this the need for a Hospital or Almshouse was explained: the Countess had seen that there were "many old women in and around Skipton, decrepit and broken down by old age, who were in the habit of begging for their daily bread".

After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, there were no longer any institutions to look after the poor and needy. Only in 1601 did the Poor Laws make this a duty of local government. Until then, the poor depended purely on the charity of individuals. It was up to the gentry and nobility to set an example in this work, and many of them founded almshouses, to take care of the 'deserving' poor. Even after the new laws came in, there was still a need for decent free housing for the old, and almshouses became a regular feature of village life.

The Countess of Cumberland intended her foundation to be for thirteen poor widows: a Mother and twelve Sisters. By her death in 1616, however, only the round building was completed. This contained accommodation for the Mother, who had a tiny bedroom as well as a living room, and for six of the Sisters, with one room each. All the rooms had fireplaces. In the centre of the building, and at the heart of the women's daily lives, was the chapel, in which prayers were said each morning by a specially-appointed Reader. Its unusual design was possibly inspired by the round churches built by the Knights Templar, such as that in the City of London.

The furniture in the chapel today was provided by Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, who continued her mother's work at Beamsley. In a deed of 1631, Lady Anne stated that she had, after her mother's death 'erected the greatest part of the said hospital.' This refers to the long range facing the road, which used to contain six dwellings, each with a tiny attic. It is possible that she also put the finishing touches to the round building, in addition to furnishing it; and she certainly put the Hospital's finances in order.

The Hospital's income came from two farms, the rents from which kept the buildings in repair and paid the allowances promised to the Mother and each of the Sisters, and to the Reader. To begin with their management was the responsibility of the Mother, but this later passed to the agent of the Skipton Castle Estate, representing the Castle's owner, who was hereditary Chairman of the Trustees. All the Hospital papers, however, were stored in a painted chest in the Mother's room. This still exists, although sadly for its safety it is no longer kept in the building.

The almswomen's lives were lived according to the Rules set out by Lady Anne. How little these changed over the centuries can be seen by comparing the original version, as recorded by Lady Anne in 1665, with the printed Orders hanging on the wall in the entrance passage, dated 1929.

By the 1950s the buildings at Beamsley were old-fashioned and inadequate, and most of the rooms were empty. A programme of modernisation was carried out from 1958-60, and for a few years after this, the Hospital was full. Then numbers started to fall again. With the arrival of council retirement homes and sheltered housing, the elderly no longer needed the Countess of Cumberland's protection.

In 1983, the Hospital Trustees decided to pass the buildings on to the Landmark Trust, as a charity which specialises in the care of historic buildings. After restoration, the long range is now let to two permanent tenants, while the round building is let for holidays to parties of up to five people, who can live briefly in these curious rooms, with the quiet central chapel in their midst. 

For a short history of Beamsley Hospital please click here.

To read the full history album for Beamsley Hospital please click here.

Restoration

Roof repairs required

When the Landmark Trust took on Beamsley Hospital in 1983, the upper building was basically in sound condition. The main job to be done was the repair of the roof. The stone slates were stripped off, and put on one side for re-use. All the joinery was checked and repaired, before the slates were put back. Laying them evenly on a continuous curve was a very tricky job.

The building consists of two stone drums, one inside the other, with the inner drum, containing all the chimneys, rising up through the roof of the outer. The top of the inner drum also contains the windows of the chapel. Its walls had been rendered with cement in 1960, but this was now cracked and broken. It was all cleaned off, therefore, and the stonework beneath repaired and repointed. The chimneys were also repointed. To begin with, these were left without their odd assortment of chimney pots, but looked curiously stumpy and unfinished without them. Once they were back in place, the building regained its full character.

In 1958-60, new partitions had been inserted, to provide small kitchens and bathrooms for the almswomen. These were now stripped out to return the building to more closely resemble its original arrangement of seven wedge-shaped rooms, all but two opening into the chapel. The uses of the rooms have changed, however, to provide the separate sitting, sleeping, cooking, washing and eating rooms, which are more appropriate for the Hospital's modern use as a single holiday dwelling.

At the same time, modern fireplaces were stripped out to reveal the Elizabethan openings behind. New elm floorboards were laid in place of modern softwood floors. New leaded lights were provided for all the windows. A new kitchen and bathroom were installed and the building was redecorated throughout, and furnished in an appropriate manner.

The chapel remains just as it was, little changed since the 17th century, complete with bible and hymn books. A record exists of the doors being painted in 'grained oak colour' in 1810. The new doors in the rest of the building have been painted to match. The bell is very popular with children!

Outside, concrete has been replaced by new stone paving. The roadside building has also been restored, and converted into two cottages which now provide homes for local people.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.