Country houses in the north for sale

One of the worst summers on record, which caused the cancellation of last week’s Great Yorkshire Show for the first time in its 154-year history, has failed to dampen the interest of potential purchasers in one of East Yorkshire’s most impressive agricultural and sporting estates.

The recent launch onto the market of the pristine, 782-acre Millington Grange estate, near Pocklington, on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds (at a guide price of £12 million for the whole), has generated a raft of enquiries from farmers, lifestyle buyers and sporting enthusiasts from Europe and the Middle East, reports Andrew Fallows of Carter Jonas in York (01904 558230). All three groups will find plenty to tempt them at Millington Grange (pictured).

The estate’s owner, legendary local entrepreneur John Weatherill, who made his fortune in the telecoms industry before ill-health forced him to sell his business, has used his professional acumen to good effect at his picturesque East Riding estate. At 750ft above sea level, it is one of the highest in the Vale of York, and, on a clear day, you can see Flamborough lighthouse and the boats out at sea from the site.

During his tenure, Mr Weatherill has not only built himself an imposing, 5,000sq ft, neo-Georgian family house and developed two model mixed farming enterprises, High College Farm and Cold Skin Farm, each with its own four-bedroom farmhouse, but has also established a prize-winning herd of Limousin cattle on the estate’s free-draining chalk soil, and created a renowned high-bird pheasant shoot within its well-managed woodland and steep dales.

It reputedly took seven years (and five successive planning officers) to obtain the planning consent required to build The Grange, the three-storey Georgian style manor house preferred by the planners to the traditional farmhouse originally proposed by Mr Weatherill. Built between 2004 and 2006, the splendid new country house stands to the north of Millington village, 15 miles from York city centre, and is approached by a floodlit private driveway lined with post and rails.

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The ground floor, dominated by a grand marble entrance hall and staircase, has four main reception rooms and a large kitchen/breakfast room with a door leading through to the swimming pool and leisure complex. On the first floor are two luxurious master suites, three further bedrooms with
en-suite bathrooms, and a library, with a further bedroom and two additional rooms on the second floor. To the rear of the house is a traditional courtyard of brick-faced outbuildings with potential for conversion to alternative uses, subject to planning consent.

The odd torrential downpour has never spoiled sport in the Lake District, where successful northern businessmen created grand holiday homes and estates in Victorian times. Currently on the market at a guide price of £1.845m through the Carlisle office of H&H Land and Property (01228 406260) is the 255-acre High Dyke estate, near Cockermouth, Cumbria, which was developed in the late 1870s by Robinson Mitchell, founder in 1865 of Mitchell’s Auction Co of Cockermouth, the UK’s first livestock auction mart, and still a thriving business in the town today.

Mr Mitchell created a model farm at High Dyke and extended the existing 17th-century cottage (now High Dyke Cottage) to provide a large, seven-bedroom country house where his family spent their summers. He also enclosed 100 acres of former moorland, drained most of the farm, and developed the shooting that is a major feature of the estate today. In April 1946, the estate was bought by Dr John Heslop, whose son, Tim, is the present vendor.

High Dyke stands in a tranquil setting in the shadow of the Lakeland fells, three miles south of Cockermouth. Houses on the estate include the pleasantly old-fashioned main house, which has three main reception rooms, four bedrooms, a farmhouse kitchen and bathroom, with access to the adjoining two-bedroom High Dyke Cottage and its separate flat. The former coach house has been converted to a roomy, two-bedroom cottage.

Over the years, the former model farm buildings have been turned into a well-equipped livery yard with traditional and barn stabling, various sheds and stores, and purpose-built indoor and outdoor arenas. The estate is being sold with shooting rights (something rarely available in these parts, says selling agent Craig Brough) and the chance to acquire additional rights over adjacent land by separate negotiation.

North of the border, idyllic, 16th-century Beldorney Castle, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, is being sold with its surrounding 861-acre estate for only the third time in 221 years. The Banchory office of Strutt & Parker (01330 824888) quotes a guide price of ‘offers over £3 million’ for the estate as a whole or in three lots. One of the oldest surviving Z-plan castles in north-east Scotland, Beldorney, listed Category A, was built in 1550 by the Gordon family, one of the region’s most powerful families at the time, in a beautifully secluded spot on the banks of the River Deveron.

Originally a Catholic house, it was later home to John Gordon, the 10th laird and an ardent Jacobite who, following defeat in the 1745 rebellion, spent much of his remaining 15 years hiding in a secret room at Beldorney, where searching soldiers consistently failed to find him. The castle was extensively restored in the 1980s by its present owners, Jolyon and Sheelagh Robinson, in the third phase of building in Beldorney’s history, following Georgian and Victorian additions, the latter directed by the eminent architect Dr Alexander Marshall Mackenzie. Notable rooms include the vaulted entrance hall (which was originally the kitchen) and the Great Hall, with its pitch-pine panelling and magnificent fireplace. Other accommo-dation includes a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and a two-bedroom flat.

The rest of the estate boasts a wealth of wildlife, including red squirrels, roe deer and red deer in winter. The sale includes three cottages, a productive, 727-acre stock-rearing and arable farm with a range of farm buildings and a farmhouse ready for refurbishment, together with salmon- and brown-trout fishing on the Deveron and low-ground shooting within the estate’s 75 acres of mixed woodland.