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8 Novembre 2013

'I got a bit carried away': Sheep farmer spent 11 years building elaborate Hobbit House by hand - then abandoned it when a new quarry disturbed his peace

Farmer and stained glass artist Colin Stokes, 68, bought 10 acres of land near Chedglow, Wiltshire in the 1980s. Collected stones left on land before starting work on a hay store using dry stone walling techniques Mr Stokes then spent 11 years creating magical two-storey property and said today, 'I just got a bit carried away.' Includes dovecots, several turrets and a selection of hand-made stained glass windows created by the artist. Mr Stoke, who now farms in Scotland, sold land where the property is built in 2000 when a quarry was built nearby.


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(1) Magical: Colin Stokes, 68, spent 11 years building this magical two-storey Hobbit House in Chedglow (2) Hand-bult: The farmer and artist said he started constructing the building from stones he found (3) Mr Stokes made his barn using dry stone walling techniques (4) The build features several arches (6) Mr Stokes said he did not draw any plans for the sprawling barn (9) The barn includes a place for Mr Stokes to sleep during lambing season (11) This picture shows another window made by Mr Stokes (12) Mr Stokes also made several art pieces for the barn (13) Mr Stokes sold the land the property was built on the 2000 when a quarry was built nearby.

These pictures show an enchanting 'hobbit house', complete with stained glass windows, dovecotes and turrets, built in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside.

The imaginative property was built entirely by hand by artist and farmer Colin Stokes, 68, who today said he originally planned to build a rectangular hay store barn - but 'got a bit carried away'.

Mr Stokes first bought the land in the 1980s with compensation money he received following an accident.

He lived in a cottage 400 yards away and farmed sheep on the land in Chedglow, Wiltshire and decided he needed a place to store hay and other supplies.

Mr Stokes began building a rectangular barn by using traditional dry-stone walling techniques before securing the walls with concrete.

But rather than stopping at four walls, the building - which took him 11 years to complete - began to grow until it eventually became the unusual build it is today.

Mr Stokes, who now farms sheep, poultry and angora rabbits near to Moffat, Scotland, said: 'I bought some land, around 10 acres, in the 1980s when I got some money following an accident.

'There was a lot of stone lying around in the fields. I collected it up and used it to build the barn.

'I just did it bit by bit. I started small - laying all the stones up and pouring concrete down the back to secure it and it just continued to grow.

'I think I just got a bit carried away really.

'Rather than a modest barn, I started building turrets and dovecots - which were inhabited by lots of birds, including one owl that lived there the whole time I owned the land.

'I also had a room up the top where I would sleep during lambing season.

'I didn't draw any plans before hand - it just grew organically. I took inspiration from buildings that I had seen during my life that looked like they were part of their surroundings. I like buildings to look like they belong.'

The barn is split into several different rooms with varying levels. One section - called 'The Hermitage' by Mr Stokes - has several stained glass windows, all hand-made by Mr Stokes.

'The windows represent spring, summer, autumn and winter as well as earth, air, fire and water, and are just another nod to the natural world,' Mr Stokes said.

However, having spent over a decade on his magical building, Mr Stokes - who said he doesn't know how the build first became known as the Hobbit House - sold up when a quarry opened nearby.

Mr Stokes said: 'I don't like it when people call it the Hobbit House. I never made it to look like that. I just call it my barn. There are also apparently rumours that I had a dispute with the planning office - which is utter nonsense. I moved on because of a quarry.

'They found Forest Marble - which is in high demand - near to my land. I knew there would be lots of lorries trundling in and out constantly so I decided to give it all up.

'When I first sold up, I had dreams about it every night. A woman spends nine months carrying a child, but I spent 11 years on the barn. I felt lost without it.

'Although it was a really difficult decision, know I made the right choice. I've moved on and have done other things.

Mr Stokes added that he had only been back to the building once since he left in 2000.

The 'Hobbit House' has now become a frequent stop for photographers and explorers looking to capture some of the building's magic.

Manchester photographer Dan Circa, 28, took this set of images after he decided to track down the quirky construction.

He said: 'Normally buildings like this are built for novelty, but once upon a time this was actually someone's home.'

'It felt like I was in a movie like Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, and I half expected a tiny person to ask me what I was doing in there. It has such a magical feel about it."

'This little hobbit house was amazingly hand built by Colin many years ago his treasured animals.'

'He built it all on his own, stone by stone and the stained glass windows were all hand painted.

'There was not much inside the building, just an old table and benches made from logs, but it had an enchanting feel to it.

'I really enjoy documenting old buildings, and being able to grab a part of history while it's still there.'


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