Hartsop was built primarily in the 17th and 18th centuries as a local centre for sheep farming, lead and silver mining, after the Enclosure Acts gave more land security and made building in stone worthwhile.
We think the western part of the building dates largely from the turn of the eighteenth century, although older fireplaces and pegged oak floorboards in parts of the house suggest that it incorporated an earlier, smaller cottage from the previous century. It was built of local limestone rubble walling and heavy slate roofing, probably with a coat of lime render and lime wash originally to protect it against the weather. The resulting building was a typical ‘double pile’ vernacular farmhouse, with a wide span roof and four main rooms on each of two floors. It would originally have been connected by either a central or attached spiral staircase. Floors were made of irregular oak planks on roughly hewn joists.
The farmhouse seems to have been altered sometime during the first half of the nineteenth century, when a more generous oak staircase and a handsome stone porch were added and the traditional small window openings were enlarged to take advantage of the magnificent southerly views. Wide, pale Baltic pine floorboards were also laid in one of the main bedrooms. These more genteel alterations may have coincided with the ‘discovery’ of the Lakes as a sublime landscape and romantic destination for travellers and tourists through the writing of Wordsworth, Coleridge and others.
Later in the century an extension was added to the east of the house, providing a single large kitchen with a cooking range on the ground floor and two more bedrooms above. More recently in the 20th century a small bathroom and stair extension was added to allow the west and east sections of the house to be used either independently or together.