Somewhere along a tiny road deep in the heart of rural England a strange building nestles in snugly amongst the vegetation, almost hidden from view. Looking for all the world like something from Tolkien's Middle Earth, it is in fact the work of a stained glass artist called Colin Stokes and despite what it would eventually become it started life as a barn!
Colin kept a rare breed of sheep and some time in the 1980s he decided he would build a barn in the corner of his field for his flock and for a few other animals he also reared. He used local stone to construct the barn but his artistic tendencies lead to him adding ornamentation and embellishments and soon the basic barn had become something entirely different. Tiny arched windows peep out from beneath the roofs of pointy towers, and arches span arches, the whole becoming an elaborate sum of it's many meandering parts. Colin cemented in each tiny piece of stone he collected from the fields about the land, none of it suitable for much other than dry stone walling, painstakingly erecting a fairy tail masterpiece in the process. He also glazing many of the windows, especially in his poetry and wine party room, with elaborate stained glass designs of his own creation reflecting the animals and the wild life of the area.
And then bureaucracy came along and reared it's ugly head. I am far from certain I have the story totally correct here but from what I can make of it, Colin's labour of love, originally intended to be a basic barn and hence exempt from the need for planning permission, caught the attention of the local council who immediately forbade him from adding anything further to the building; indeed had they had their way it may well have been bulldozed because it had grown way beyond it's original remit as a simple barn. Colin had managed to hide his work from the eyes of officialdom for the best part of ten years, by which time the barn had grown to the size of an appreciable house! So, faced with imminent destruction all looked lost until along came some bats - the barn has an appreciable population of these tiny flying mammals - so now the situation has become a stalemate, it cannot be built up any further but then neither can it be dropped. Colin's original barn had progressively metamorphosised into the place in which he wished to live, however he was upset to find that not only could he not move in, he was not allowed to finish it either. Then some of the adjacent land was purchased by a developer who announced the intention to begin quarrying there, thus shattering the peace and quiet - although in the end that plan does not appear to have come to fruition. Finally, along came the Foot and Mouth epidemic and although his flock had not been affected it seems they were destroyed anyway. Completely disenchanted, this was the final straw and Colin sold up and moved to Scotland.
From this point onwards I can find no further mention of him.
The current land owner wishes to preserve and protect Colin's Barn and no one locally will let on where it is. Of course this makes finding it rather difficult to say the least and it is only 12 months or so after first hearing about it that we finally stood in the field gazing in open mouthed amazement!
So there you have it! The Hobbit House, Colin's Barn, Colin's Folly... call it what you will. Once seen you cannot forget it! It is quite magical and I have every intention of keeping my mouth firmly shut too so that it will hopefully continue to stay protected from the vile elements of society who would damage what is an immense labour of love by Colin Stokes.