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For men who love men

High Close

A brief history of Langdale Youth Hostel

High Close has been a favourite venue for ECC for many years. We held large gatherings there from the 1990s and after a gap of several years, resumed our regular summers there in 2018.

In case you wondered why we refer to this venue as High Close, as well as its current name of  Langdale Youth Hostel, here's a short history of this enchanting place.

High Close in 1909
High Close in 1909

From 1621 – 1879 High Close worked as a hill farm. Originally a small hamlet of cottages, it was part of a large sale of properties to the Benson Family in 1575. The Benson Family were fullers (finishers of cloth that would be made into garments and sold in Kendal).  There is evidence of a fulling mill in Low Wood, a reservoir, sluice, bracken kilns and a service road.

1575 also saw the beginning of a decline in the clothing trade reducing the mills in the Grasmere Parish from eighteen to two in 1765. In 1792 High Close was sold to George Law of Brathay Hall, a successful Jamaican trade merchant. The years 1792 – 1802 saw the first extension to the original farmhouse with the construction of what is now the drawing room and the partitioning of the attic into rooms.

Between 1802 – 1857, High Close changed hands a few times. Through the Law Family from George Law’s heir and brother Henry Law, to his nephew and heir John Law Beetham. Then sold onto John Hird then to James Greenwood whose son, James Greenwood Jnr., would sell it onto Edward Balme Wheatley Balme (EBWB) in 1857.  In 1866 a major refurbishment and expansion was planned and executed by EBWB and the architects Corey & Ferguson of Carlisle.

Upon the death of EBWB in 1896, his son-in-law and land agent, Frank Maude Taylor Jones Balme inherited High Close. After his death in 1911 his son, Frank Edward Thorpe Jones Balme inherited until his own death in 1951. In 1951 Frank Edward Thorpe Jones Balme’s trustees and the commissioners of the Inland Revenue directed that High Close should become the property of the National Trust. 1st January 1954 then saw the leasing of High Close to the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) and it opened its doors to its members the following Whitsun, 6th June 1954.

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