Why the sheep­ish shed is now a most de­sir­able gar­den build­ing

Of­fice, writer’s re­treat, bed­room and hol­i­day let. There are many uses for the tra­di­tional shepherd’s hut. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE pop­u­lar­ity of “posh” sheds has reached epi­demic pro­por­tions and they come in many guises, from the sim­ple wood hut to cir­cu­lar pods and so­phis­ti­cated ar­chi­tect de­signed build­ings.

One of the most sought-af­ter is the shepherd’s hut and it’s easy to see why. It has rus­tic charm and per­fectly cap­tures the spirit of the great out­doors, even though it might be parked on a sub­ur­ban lawn.

Built on four wheels, it is also has the ben­e­fit of be­ing mov­able, which makes plan­ning per­mis­sion less of an is­sue.

Pen­nie Lor­dan, of the York­shire Hut Com­pany, based in Nether Pop­ple­ton, York, says: “Plan­ning ap­proval isn’t usu­ally re­quired if the hut is within the cur­tilage of a house but if they are used on hol­i­day or her­itage sites, they are classed as mo­bile, which helps with gain­ing per­mis­sion.”

She and hus­band Kevin started the com­pany seven years ago af­ter they re­turned to Eng­land from France, where they had a fur­ni­ture mak­ing busi­ness.

They were asked to de­sign and make a be­spoke shepherd’s hut for a client who liked their work.

“We based it on a tra­di­tional York­shire de­sign, as it seems the first shepherd’s huts may have orig­i­nated here,” says Pen­nie.

The cou­ple have made many more since and, thanks to the qual­ity of their ma­te­ri­als and crafts­man­ship, the huts have sold all over Bri­tain and as far away as Rhode Is­land, Amer­ica.

They are con­structed from FSC tim­ber, with cast iron wheels and hand­crafted doors and win­dows fit­ted with ar­gon filled planitherm glass.

In a nod to their orig­i­nal use, the huts are in­su­lated with sheep’s wool, which makes them cool on hot days and cosy in the depths of win­ter.

You can have them off grid with a wood burn­ing stove or they can be fit­ted with elec­tri­cal sock­ets and un­der­floor heat­ing.

They start from around £10,000 and are put to a va­ri­ety of uses from of­fice, craft stu­dio, play­room and re­treat to gar­den­ing hut, writ­ing space and spare room.

“We get a lot of writ­ers and artists buy­ing them and they are pop­u­lar as a sewing room. The feed­back we get is that they are peace­ful, a quiet space away from it all,” says Pen­nie.

Writer Ara­bella Cor­nelius, who lives near Thirsk, opted for a York­shire Hut Com­pany shepherd’s hut rather than a “shof­fice”, due to porta­bil­ity.

“The fact that it’s a move­able struc­ture ap­pealed to me as I know I can take it with me if I move. It’s a safer in­vest­ment.”

Ara­bella, a copy­writer, has a deluxe ver­sion with un­der­floor heat­ing, a log burner, sink, a fold down desk and a bed. It is, she says, the sub­ject of some envy.

“People love it. It’s de­signed to be multi-func­tional, so I use it as an of­fice but it can also be a spare room or a play­room. The bed can also be taken out, so it could be a yoga room in the fu­ture. I spent more on hav­ing heat­ing in­stalled be­cause I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t use it year round.”

Amanda Owen, best known as The York­shire Shep­herdess and star of ITVs The Dales, uses hers as hol­i­day let af­ter buy­ing it four years ago. She and her hus­band Clive, who have seven chil­dren, run the re­mote 2,000 acre hill farm, Ravenseat, at the head of Swaledale.Their shepherd’s hut sports a bed, ta­ble and chair, wardrobe, book­case and a wood burn­ing stove, and is hugely pop­u­lar thanks to its idyl­lic lo­ca­tion by Whit­sun­dale Beck. The blurb on Amanda’s web­site, www.ravenseat.com, is com­pelling: “You can wake to the sound of sheep, cows, hens, dogs, trac­tors and free-range chil­dren and en­joy a tra­di­tional cooked break­fast in the com­fort of the hut or, weather per­mit­ting, out­side on the river­bank with a view of the wa­ter­fall.”

Hun­dreds have “yes” to that, even though it is ba­sic, with a toi­let and shower fa­cil­ity 150 yards away.

“I bought it be­cause I wanted some­thing that would fit in with the land­scape. Up here, there are lots of old wood and metal rail­way huts used as win­ter feed stores for the sheep. Farm­ers bought them cheap in the 50s and 60s. Tra­di­tional shepherd’s huts are sim­i­lar, even though they were never used up here. They are a south­ern flat lands thing,” says Amanda. “It’s sim­ple but people love it. It’s by a wa­ter­fall and very ro­man­tic. We’ve had quite a few pro­pos­als and hon­ey­moons down there.”

The ori­gin of the huts is un­clear, some say they orig­i­nate from Dorset and oth­ers say York­shire. Tra­di­tion­ally, farm­ers used them to care for their flock dur­ing lamb­ing sea­son. They had a bunk, medicine cab­i­net and a wood burn­ing stove to keep them­selves warm and re­vive poorly lambs.

“Op­tions now range from un­der­floor heat­ing, shower, toi­let and mi­cro kitchens, to quirky in­clu­sions like port­hole win­dows and time cap­sules,” says Pen­nie.

“We’ve just done a quote for some­one who wants to use one as a sauna.”

Use­ful Con­tacts: The York­shire Hut Com­pany, Up­per Pop­ple­ton, York. Launched by fur­ni­ture mak­ers Pen­nie and Kevin Lor­dan seven years ago, the com­pany makes be­spoke huts.

The cou­ple also run and fa­cil­i­tate var­i­ous art and craft classes at their work­shop. Con­tact: tel: 01904 270707, www. they­ork­shire­hut­com­pany.com.

Amanda Owen’s shepherd’s hut at Ravenseat, Swaledale, is open May to Oc­to­ber. It is £30 a night per per­son, in­clud­ing break­fast. Visit www.ravenseat. com

SPLEN­DID ISOLATION: The shepherd’s hut at Ravenseat, at the head of Swaledale, is a hol­i­day let. Left, a hut from the York­shire Hut Com­pany. Wood burn­ing stoves add to the charm.

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