Handale was site of Cistercian nunnery founded in 1133 and dissolved in 1539. In the 1750s the site was used as a Cotton Mill.
None of the original priory buildings remain today but the stone has been reused in the current farm buildings and walled garden.
A Medieval cross base and tomb lid are located just outside the walled garden.
Sixteen skeletons, a stone coffin and a sword were found on the site in 1830. Local legends speak of a serpent (or a dragon) that would devour the beautiful maidens of Loftus, until a brave Knight called Scaw killed it and rescued Emma Beckwith
The stone coffin supposedly carried the words “Snake Slayer” with Scaw inside still holding his sword, but the stone coffin on-site doesn’t seem to carry such an inscription and the present location of the sword appears to have been lost.
The walled garden has been restored with funding from the National Park and LEADER