Holystone And Harbottle : Overview
These two settlements will be dealt with together because their histories are intertwined. Initially, Harbottle was the centre of the Lordship of Redesdale after it was removed from Elsdon in the twelfth century. However, with the decline in the status of the Lordship after the seventeenth century, the Chapelry of Holystone, with its five associated townships, became the more prominent description of the area surrounding the two villages. Most of the chapelry, with the exception of some land on the east bank of the Coquet forming part of the two townships of Holystone and Harbottle, is contained within the boundary of the Northumberland National Park.
Ownership of the land in these two townships, as well as in the three others, Barrow, Dueshill and Linsheels, was dominated by the same three families in Alwinton, although there were also a number of other, smaller proprietors. Of the three largest estate owners, the Fenwicke-Clennells appear to have been the greatest with their seat at Harbottle. Their estates had belonged to the Clennell family until the early nineteenth century when they passed to the Fenwickes through a surviving female line. The new owners changed their name to Fenwicke-Clennell in recognition of their good fortune.
Of the two principal settlements, Harbottle was the larger. Bulmer's Directory of 1886 lists Harbottle as having ten retail businesses and two inns, while Holystone boasts only six businesses and a single inn. Outside these villages, the principal occupation was farming. Thus, the economic pattern described for the Alwinton townships applies to the Holystone ones as well. Agriculture dominated until after the First World War, some land having been taken for the Army ranges immediately before the War. Subsequently, land was purchased for forestry, more land was sold to the Army and the number of farms declined.
Although the main landed proprietors, other than the Selbys, continued to operate their estates into the second half of the twentieth century, they were ultimately forced to sell out. More land than in the Alwinton townships was retained in private hands and a number of new estate owners, for example the Renwicks at Holystone and the Beavans at Linsheels, appeared on the scene in the twentieth century. They helped to retain some employment and continued local traditions from the past, for example Major Renwick's support for the Coquetdale Coursing Club before and after the Second World War, but they have inevitably had to relinquish land in the face of adverse economic conditions.
These conditions have had effects elsewhere. Holystone no longer has a shop, nor an inn, while Harbottle has fewer shops than in the past and only a single hostelry. As in Alwinton, hopes for the future tend to be centred on tourism or a an influx of commuters to the villages whose incomes are derived from sources outside the valley, but whose spending may cause an upturn in the local economy.
Picture : Summerhouse In Grounds Of Holystone Grange