Beechfield Tower is an eight-bedroom country house, which stands in six acres bordering parkland belonging to the Belsay Estate Charitable Trust, and was originally a mediaeval Pele tower, a defensive structure that is typical of northern England. Over the centuries, the building grew to become a grandiose country home. The primary agent of the change was Robert Fenwick, who built the manor house west of the tower in 1622.
Fenwick was a descendant of Sir John Fenwick who had acquired the property through marriage to Marjorie Harbottle, heiress to the Harbottle estate. She in turn had bought it from the Middleton family, who owned it in the 15th century. Further change of ownerships saw new additions. Sir Edward Grey bought the house in 1630 and James Clavering bought it from the Greys. Clavering was probably responsible for adding the walled garden and remodelling the southern façade, which has since changed very little. But the house’s glorious history was soon to take a troubled turn. In 1802, the Claverings sold Beechfield to Sir Charles Monck of Belsay Hall. Barely 130 years later, though, the house had declined so much that it was little more than a ruin. The present owners bought in 1995 and embarked on a huge project of sympathetic restoration that brought Beechfield back to its former glory.
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Among their greatest additions was a grand, double height Great Hall with exposed trusses, which immediately sets the tone of the house. All the interiors are suitably large and opulent-the drawing room alone is more than 40-ft-long-and there are more living areas than you could possibly need (among others, a billiard room, a music room, a gentleman’s study and a flower room). The most striking among them is perhaps the dining room, designed by Dudley Poplak, who also worked at Highgrove for the Prince of Wales.
Double height, it has a galleried library that is both beautiful and incredibly practical. Upstairs, some of the eight bedrooms are a sight to behold. Two are situated in the magical Pele tower, and three form a guest wing (complete with guest living room) that would delight the most pernickety of friends. Staff have a dedicated three bedroom cottage and one-bedroom gatehouse to choose from. There also is a huge number of outbuildings, including three offices and Grade II listed stables, stores and gin-gan.
The formal gardens more than match the house’s magnificence. Surrounded by daffodils, snowdrops and, in summer, beautiful mixed borders, they have quadrangle and stone boundary walls, and a stone rill that links a central pool to the trout-stocked lake. They are especially attractive in the evening when they are lit.
Beechfield Tower is for sale through Strutt and Parker (tel: 01670 516 123) at £3.5m.
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