The History of Stair House

Extract taken directly from papers left at the property by an elderly lady Miss Chrysel.

“When I first came to live at Stair House I was interested in the stone date plaque over the front door which reads FF 1647. The cross of consecration in the centre is the same as those found inside and outside Crosthwaite Church. Our little church, down Newlands Valley, was once linked with Crosthwaite in the register. There I saw marriage recorded in 1628 of Thomas Fairfax, a parsons son, and Frances Parrot of Haver End. 19 years later this house was built. For several years I failed to notice that the first “F” was slightly smaller that the second. Although it stands for Fairfax in this case I believe it denotes Frances Fairfax who perhaps was the woman of the property”.

This type of statesmen’s’ house was built with waterworn stones from Newlands Beck immediately to the rear with a cement mixture.


The living Room

This was, of course, the kitchen where all the cooking was done on a large wood fire on the stone floor. My present kitchen was the bedroom of the owners, but to obtain food from the buttery there as a door at the foot of the stairs, where the book shelves are. There was no back entrance of any kind to the house. About 70 years ago, the slate steps of the stairway were covered with wood as the centres had been worn down by the farmers’ boots, and an old lady was slipping. At the top of the stairs there was a door and the whole area up there, with a fire at both ends, was where the farmers hands slept.

Downstairs again, in the inglenook is a salt cupboard; most essential for salting the bacon for winter. This was inserted in the wall and was, of course, kept locked. There are two holes in the woodwork so that the heat from the fire would keep it dry.


At the Top of the Stairs

The whole of the area – 30ft x 20ft – was one big bedroom. It was not until much later that the passageway was made, and later still that the full length was divided up into rooms. The alterations upstairs were first made when it was fashionable to have a parlour for entertaining visitors. At this stage Stair Cottage was built. There was no was of reaching a bedroom above the parlour but through the end of the passage upstairs from Stair House. The whole area then was open to the rafters. The ceilings were added in about 1950.


“The Ring of Bright Water”

Miss Chrysel, as many locals will tell you, had what she called “the ring of bright water” located in Newlands Beck to the rear of the property. This was an area in the water surrounded by large boulders where local children would often swim. Miss Chrysel believed this pool to have magical powers linked to fairies. Why not take a paddle and see if you can spot one – You never know she may have been right! Watch out you don’t see a fairy looking back!