The name 'Broadrayne' traces back to the old Norse language and translates as 'Broad' (wide) and 'rein' (long strip). The farm sits above what would have been the flood plain of the valley and below the high fells behind the farm. Our oldest maps and the field walls indicate that the farm extended further to the north in a long strip. Whether people lived here or just used the land we cannot tell, but for the name to survive, something must have happened here for a very long time. The farm house stands on a large boulder base; there was probably an earlier building than the present house which dates to circa 1620 (it was a tradition to rebuild on the same site as the previous one). The stone walls around the farm and the shape of the fields also reflect a similar date. Our deeds and a very early map tell us that these fields were enclosed before the 1720s.
The barn and outbuildings
The outlying barn to the North has always been known as the Bracken barn; the cut bracken was used for animal bedding and some of it was burnt to make potash, which was in turn made into soap to scour the grease from the wool before it was spun and sold. The building attached to the north of the farmhouse (now The Woolloft ) was the original cow byre with storage above for animal feed and the fleeces awaiting processing. The Fold and The Byre building as well as The Yan building date back to the early years of the 19th century. Built as storage for hay, barley and oats on the top floor and a stable and shippon below for cows. The oats and barley would have been grown in the meadows further down the valley; no wheat could have been grown in the valley, as it is too wet. The Smithy is a detached one storey building, that has now been converted to accommodation. It was at one time the blacksmith’s workshop for the farm, from where it gets its name.
Some of the best sheep in The Lake District
Broadrayne Farm has over the years bred some of the best sheep in the Lake District. The grey-faced sheep you can see round the farm are Lakeland Herdwicks. Descendants of these sheep have been here for generations and are hefted to the farm. These are Broadrayne Sheep and are marked with the Broadrayne own flock mark but are now owned and managed by our next door neighbour. The picture above shows farm hands salving the sheep outside the building (The Byre) circa 1880. Salving involved waterproofing the sheep's fleece with a mixture of hot tar and rancid butter.