Spain’s Field Farm stood high above tree level for centuries in Eastgate, near Stanhope in Weardale, when upland 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’s been been moved stone by stone, all 1,170 tonnes of it, to Beamish, where it stands overlooking the old pit village, surrounded by rolling hills once more, as well as new arrivals, some Swaledale sheep.
The specialist team at Beamish have worked closely with the Raine family, as well as members of the Weardale community, for the new attraction.
Stepping through the farm house door has been a special experience for Yvonne Forster, 73, whose mum, Mary Forster (nee Raine), grew up at Spain’s Field.
Yvonne has fond memories of visiting the family home as a child during the 1950s where she’d feed pet lambs, collect eggs and have teas in the hay field.
"It’s an amazing and very emotional experience to be here,” she said. “Over the years, when my grandparents had retired and left the farm, we’d come back here for family walks, particularly on Boxing Day but it had no windows and had become a sheep shed. So it’s such a unique experience to come back here and see it as it was in the 50s.”
Yvonne’s mum Mary laid the first stone of Spain’s Field at Beamish in 2018, before passing away in 2020 aged 101, and her memories have helped shape the stories that will be told at the farm.
Yvonne is the fourth generation of Raines associated with Spain’s Field and she says it’s incredible to be able to now show the fifth, sixth and seventh generations their family’s home, which has been recreated in remarkable detail, including pieces donated by the Raine family.
The farm, as it was in its later years, was donated to Beamish by the Jopling family and the building was thoroughly recorded before being dismantled. Among the objects discovered were a Georgian bread oven, 17th century cannonball, fragments of 1950s farming magazines and remnants of lino and wallpaper which have been recreated.
Etymologically, Spain’s Field is thought to be 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 names linked to the landscape and it’s thought that over the centuries, the Weardale accent and enunciation led to it becoming known as Spain’s Field.
It’s the latest attraction to be unveiled as part of the major Remaking Beamish project, which was awarded £10.9million by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016. Spain’s Field has also been supported by the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust and Friends of Beamish.
Last month saw the opening of the first part of the 1950s terrace as part of Remaking Beamish, which will also feature the old Grand Cinema from Ryhope, Sunderland, which will be rebuilt brick by brick.
The major project will also see the expansion of the 1820s landscape, including overnight self-catering accommodation so, for the first time, people can stay overnight at Beamish.
:: Spain’s Field will open to the public at 1pm on Saturday, March 19.