By Karen Griffiths, Interpretation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority November 2019
Hard Banks Ice Cream Parlour is in a converted barn just off the A684 near Aysgarth. They’ve done a wonderful job converting the barn inside and out – retaining the look and feel (but none of the cobwebs and hay!) of the original building.
We did a little bit of research on the barn prior to meeting Gillian and were absolutely delighted to find that in the early nineteenth century it was one of two barns belonging to the farm that we surveyed up in Thornton Rust earlier this year, called Manor House. This was a typical small dairy farm with lots of original features still in place like the cheese press and dairy shelves.
In 1839 when the Tithe Awards were recorded for Thornton Rust it was tenanted by Simon Thwaite and his wife Agnes. It was her that would have been turning the milk from cows grazed on Hard Banks into valuable cheese and butter. And it’s her that may have been bucketing the whey left over from cheese-making and pouring it down the two stone chutes to feed the pigs in the sty just across the yard from the dairy.
The farm was owned by a gentleman named Edward Tennant. We noticed the initials E T carved over the barn’s doorway along with the date 1796. It’s not too hard a stretch to imagine that this huge late eighteenth century barn was erected by the landowner as part of agricultural ‘improvements’ so popular at that time.