A FABULOUS farmhouse in one of the most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales, which explains much about Darlington town centre, has gone on the market for £1.5m.

It is Carr End, which is on the edge of Semerwater in Raydale: a seven-bedroom, Grade II listed farmhouse with 21 acres of grassland down to the lake’s shore and lintel inscribed with the date “1667”.


Semerwater, in Raydale, is one of Yorkshire’s four natural lakes, with the country’s shortest named river – the Bain – taking its water 2.5 miles through Bainbridge to the Ure, which runs through the heart of Wensleydale.

Carr End, near Bainbridge, the home of the Fothergill family from 1667 to 1841, with Semerwater in the distance. Picture courtesy of Savills

As the lintel says, Carr End was built in 1667 by John Fothergill, one of the early Quakers who gathered around the lake with their meeting house at Countersett.

John was imprisoned at Richmond for his faith and his son, Alexander, inherited the farmhouse in 1684 but died in 1695 following a harsh spell in York prison for refusing to pay his tithes to the Anglican church.

His 18-year-old son, John, inherited and became a leading Quaker preacher, thrice touring America (once, in 1724, meeting George Washington’s grandfather). In 1731, back at Carr End, he fell over a scythe and horribly gashed his leg. As there were no doctors in the remote area, John held the wound together while his manservant stitched it up.

The Fothergill fountain on an Edwardian postcard at the entrance to Darlington's South Park. It stands in honour of Dr John Fothergill who was born at Carr End

Among John’s sons were a black sheep and a superstar. Alexander, the black sheep, inherited Carr End, and for 23 years, oversaw the construction of the turnpike road through the Dales from Richmond to Lancaster, but in 1774 he resigned, facing accusations of financial dishonesty – devastating for a Quaker.

Carr End in Raydale, neara Bainbridge. Picture courtesy of Savills of York

In the same year, the Quakers of Countersett accused him of the “disorderly conduct” of fathering “two bastard children” in Richmond. He denied it, but he was only allowed back in the meeting house when he convinced them of his “earnest resolve” to mend his ways.

Alexander was struggling with debts but was baled out by his brother, John, who had become a superstar medic. Born at Carr End in 1712, John had become the most sought after physician in London, treating everyone from Benjamin Franklin to John Wesley, and earning £10,000-a-year (nearly £2m in today’s values).

He was a great naturalist, with superb collections of shells, corals, ores and minerals, and especially plants. His gardens were said to be the second best in Europe after Kew, with 3,400 exotic flowers – he employed a plant collector to explore Africa and Asia sending him back specimens – and 3,000 shrubs. A witch hazel, fothergilla, is named after him.

The Fothergills sold Carr End in 1841 because the new family head, another doctor called John, had set himself up in Darlington and become the town’s leading physician. He also became the first president of the Darlington Temperance Society so after his death in 1858, his supporters raised a water fountain in his honour. It was placed in Tubwell Row.

The opening of the Fothergill Fountain in Bondgate in 1862. Opening day was June 10, but because it was so grey and wet, the picture was taken on June 11

His sons were also medical man. The eldest, another Dr John, built a surgery in Stanhope Road in 1870, which he called Semercote, as a nod to the lake. Dr John’s brothers, William and Alexander, became dentists and established their practice opposite in a property called Raydaleside.

Stanhope Road South in Darlington with Semercote on the right and cream-coloured Raydaleside in the distance. Picture: Google StreetView

So although the Fothergills are long gone from Carr End, they brought the dale into Darlo where it remains – Raydaleside is a large private house, Semercote is now offices, and the Fothergill Fountain stands at the entrance to South Park.