Overview of the Beamish Museum’s new 1950s Spanish farmhouse before it opens to the public
The Spanish agricultural farm rose above tree level for centuries at Eastgate, near Stanhope in Weardale, when hill farming was a more common practice in the North East.
For 100 years it was the family home of the Raine family, before they left in the 1970s. Now it has been moved stone by stone, the 1,170 tonnes, to Beamish, where it stands overlooking the old village of pits, surrounded again by rolling hills, plus newcomers, Swaledale sheep.
Beamish’s specialist team worked closely with the Raine family, as well as members of the Weardale community, for the new attraction.
Walking through the farm gate was a special experience for Yvonne Forster, 73, whose mother, Mary Forster (née Raine), grew up in Spain’s Field.
Yvonne has fond memories of visiting the family home as a child in the 1950s, where she fed pet lambs, collected eggs and had teas in the hay field.
“It’s an incredible and very moving experience to be here,” she said. “Over the years when my grandparents retired and left the farm, we used to come back here for family walks, especially on Boxing Day, but there were no windows and had become a sheepfold, so it’s a unique experience to come back here and see it as it was in the 50s.”
Yvonne’s mother, Mary, laid the foundation stone for Spain’s Field in Beamish in 2018, before passing away in 2020 aged 101, and her memories helped shape the stories that will be told on the farm.
Yvonne is the fourth generation of Raines associated with Spain’s Field and she says it’s amazing to now be able to show the fifth, sixth and seventh generations their family’s home, which has been recreated in remarkable detail, including donated rooms. by the Raine family.
The farm, as it appeared in its final years, was given to Beamish by the Jopling family and the building was painstakingly registered before being dismantled. Among the items discovered were a Georgian bread oven, a 17th century cannonball, fragments of agricultural magazines from the 1950s and remnants of lino and wallpaper which have been recreated.
Etymologically, the field of Spain is considered a corruption of the term Spaynes Fold, which referred to a field (fold) where cattle being weaned were kept. Farms in the area often had landscape-related names and it is believed that over the centuries Weardale’s accent and enunciation led to it becoming known as the Field of Spain.
It is the latest attraction to be unveiled as part of the major Remaking Beamish project, which received £10.9million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016. Spain’s Field has also been supported by the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust and Beamish’s friends.
The major project will also see the expansion of the 1820s landscape, including self-catering overnight accommodation so that, for the first time, people can stay overnight in Beamish.
:: Spain’s Field will open to the public at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 19.
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