Waitby and Smardale school was built on Waitby Fell in 1680 by James Highmore, a native of Waitby and a cloth-worker in London. He endowed the school with £100 to be laid out in a rent charge. Among other bequests to the poor and the church on his death in 1684, his will left a further £300 to be laid out in the purchase of lands and £7 of the yearly profit to be employed for the benefit of the school.
From 1820 to 1860 Thomas Brunskill was the master. He was succeeded by William Waistell who had the school rebuilt by subscription in 1867. An engraved list of those who donated funds – and how much they gave – can still be read above the front entrance. William Waistell remained as master till 1890.
From 1907 to 1913 the school was closed and finally shut down as an educational establishment in the 1920s. The building was used as the Smardale village hall until it was abandoned in the late 1950s. In 1973 a local family bought the building, which was renovated recently. We worked closely with English Heritage during our renovation and refurbishment of Waitby School, and there has been no compromise in quality, furniture or soft furnishings. Many of the building’s original features have been retained, but we have incorporated 21st Century luxuries into the building.
We believe in creating the least possible stress on the environment and in supporting the local economy. Local builders and craftsmen, using traditional techniques and materials, worked on the renovation. Whenever feasible, materials and supplies are sourced locally, from the windows and the hand-built kitchen, the slate in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the stone floors, to the luxury bed linen and towels. Comfort reigns supreme, and we have sheepskin rugs, snuggly throws on the sofas, a carefully-thought out book and film library for all tastes and ages, specially commissioned walks and White Company toiletries. We have tried to anticipate everything you would need for a perfect holiday. A cot, high chair and cutlery for babies are available, but please request these at the time of booking.
The accommodation comprises:
Still with its original ceramic basin, vintage floor tiles and coat pegs for the schoolchildren, this room is a perfect boot room and place to store walking gear, outdoor kit and games (and the contents of the old school desk are always a hit with the children).
Our magnificent double height living room was the original main schoolroom and features the original hearth and fireplace, with the addition of a wood burning stove for cosy nights in. Solid oak flooring with underfloor heating and refurbished original sash windows mean the room is snug, even in the depths of winter. A flat screen television, Sky satellite TV, coupled with a Bose surround sound system, comprehensive book and DVD library, ensure that guests have plenty of entertainment to hand – kick off your shoes, stretch out on the large leather sofas or the outsize beanbags and relax!
We love cooking and food, and have made sure that the hand built kitchen is fully equipped to cater for the most discerning of chefs. The Buttermere slate surfaces complement the locally-sourced stone floor (with underfloor heating, naturally!) The Whirlpool oven, ceramic hob and microwave – and the glorious views from both windows – make cooking a delight and the fridge/freezer and dishwasher are there to make life easier. The double doors overlook the fells and the window above the sink frames ancient trees.
A WC and further vestibule are off the kitchen.
Main bedroom suite
On the ground floor, with French windows to either side, this bedroom has been decorated with simplicity in mind – we don’t want to detract from the mesmerising views you can see from the bed once you open the silk floor-to-ceiling curtains. Although the luxurious mattress and bed linen will tempt you to stay in bed, the sheepskin rugs and underfloor heating soften the blow for whoever has to get up to make that first cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Within the suite is the master bathroom featuring Buttermere slate, luxury bathroom fittings and a whirlpool bath – perfect for soaking in after a long walk on the fells.
Bedroom two suite
Up the handmade staircase off the main room, the second bedroom suite is an eyrie, with a handmade bed, oak floors and half panels, a generous walk-in wardrobe and shot silk green curtains framing a view towards Smardale. The Velux windows reflect the sky and from the bed you are almost in the trees. The window is perfect for viewing steam trains passing on the Settle-Carlisle line. The walk-in shower and toilet feature Buttermere slate flooring and luxury fittings.
This room is reached by a staircase from the kitchen and has three hand-made beds, a walk-in wardrobe, oak flooring, designer wall/reading lights and a view of fields and trees towards Kirkby Stephen.
Waitby School is perfect and safe for children, as it is fully enclosed by ancient dry stone walling, with generous parking for several cars and large front and back lawns. Three majestic trees date back to the school’s original construction and the 360 degree panoramic views are ever-changing with the time of day, conditions and seasons. The old boys’ toilets have been converted into a log store (logs and kindling for the wood burning stove all included) and secure storage for outdoor furniture and barbecue.