A COUPLE who have spent the last eighteen months renovating an 18th century building once used to house the poor have opened their new café and bar.

Michael and Cherie Larkin, owners of 'The Poor House' in Great Ayton near Stokesley, North Yorkshire, welcomed their first customers on Saturday, February 1.

One of two cottages built in 1786 with money raised by donors for the poor of Great Ayton, The Poor House became home to up to 24 residents at a time. 

The Northern Echo: The Poor House back in its heyday The Poor House back in its heyday

In the premises, there was a common sitting room and a common work room, a charity table where free meals were given and a table of 'industry' which offered food for a charge.

Opening the café, Mr Larking said: “It’s been a labour of love and bringing such an historic building back to life in a manner which everyone can share in is really rewarding."

Now featuring a seating capacity of up to 40, the renovated site includes an outside terrace with its own pizza oven, while much of its authentic period features have been preserved.

The Northern Echo:

Back in its heyday, described as 'very basic' residents of The Poor House slept on straw mattresses and had to make their own beds, sweep their own space and keep their areas extremely clean.

Mrs Larkin said: "Things were pretty simple back then – and we’re now reversing the building’s fortunes into a hub of hospitality.

The Northern Echo:

"We already have a wedding booked as the venue makes for a very different setting for small celebration parties whether corporate or personal.”

“We are launching with a carefully thought-out small menu, with choices ranging in price from £2 to £15, which can be expanded as we progress and gauge guests’ preferences.

“But we do plan to have special theme nights including pop-up chef nights.”

The Northern Echo: The second floor of The Poor House in Great AytonThe second floor of The Poor House in Great Ayton

The Poor House opens from Wednesday right through to Sunday.