Country houses for sale

Property for sale in Yorkshire

People who buy a country house in Yorkshire tend to keep it for at least a generation, if not for life. Probably no more than half a dozen proper country houses are sold there annually, but, this year at least, the best all seem to have come to the market at once. And when you consider that, at the moment, you can buy a small estate in ‘God’s country’ for the price of an old rectory in the Home Counties, trading up to Yorkshire doesn’t seem such a bad idea especially if you enjoy a good, old-fashioned, country way of life.

With business in the area showing definite signs of revival, Henry Holland-Hibbert of Strutt & Parker (020–7629 7282) expects to see buyers fighting over one of the county’s classic small estates, Firby Hall , near Bedale, North Yorkshire, which his firm is selling, jointly with Knight Frank (01423 530088), at a guide price of £2.25 million just about ‘spot on’ in the current market, he reckons. Owned by the same sporting family for the past 45 years, tranquil Georgian Firby Hall, listed Grade II, stands in 57 acres of gardens, parkland, woods and farmland, a mile from the medieval market town of Bedale, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Dales. Its original owner, Thomas Coore, was a rather more bellicose character, who, having raised a local army the Bedale Volunteers to fight in the American War of Independence, returned home, disappointed to find that Napoleon’s rumoured invasion wasn’t happening after all.

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In 1778, with time hanging heavy on his hands, Coore concentrated his energies on building himself a handsome new hall on the site of an earlier one, and, finding his views restricted, demolished most of the nearby village of Firby, then a much larger settlement. Approached along a private tree-lined drive, the original main house, with its distinctive three-storey bay overlooking the gardens and parkland to the south, has three fine reception rooms, a large master suite, two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-bedroom nursery flat; the north wing, added later, houses the kitchen, the breakfast room, the playroom and four more double bedrooms. There is also a four-bedroom cottage and outbuildings, including garaging, stabling, farm buildings and stores.

Strutt & Parker’s Harrogate office (01423 561274) is also handling the sale, at ‘offers over £3m’, of sturdy, stone built Whitbeck Manor, at Askwith, near Otley, North Yorkshire, which stands in the centre of its 81 acres of park and farmland, with breathtaking panoramic views of Wharfdale. This was originally a relatively simple farmhouse called New close, built in about 1800 to house tenant farmers on the Denton Hall estate. It was gentrified and altered externally in the early 1920s, and now has four reception rooms, a study, a breakfast kitchen, a master suite, five bedrooms and two bath/shower rooms.

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In 1911, the house and its surrounding farmland were bought by the Walker family, who made their fortune from wool. It is currently owned by Andrea Walker, whose husband’s grandfather, Philip Walker, retreated here after serving in the trenches of the First World War. Mrs Walker moved to Whitbeck from London on her marriage in the 1970s, but, following her husband’s death a couple of years ago, now finds it just too big for herself and their youngest child. ‘After so long in the hands of the same family, the house needs quite a lot doing to it, but its spectacular private setting, three miles from Ilkley and 12 miles from Harrogate, makes this a unique opportunity,’ says selling agent Charles Yeoman.

No less spectacular is the setting of the 141-acre Fulwith Brow estate, which stands on high ground on the southern outskirts of Harrogate, overlooking the magnificent sweep of the Grade II*-listed Crimple Valley viaduct built by George Hudson in 1848. Smiths Gore (01904 756303) quote a guide price of £5m for the whole, or £2.5m each for Fulwith Brow house with its lodge and 4.5 acres of wooded grounds, and Fulwith Mill Farm with its farmhouse, buildings, bungalow and 137 acres of land, which is currently let on a Farm Business Tenancy until March 2011.

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The Georgian-style main house and its modern single-storey extension are both beautifully sited within the 4½ acres of terraced gardens and grounds to take maximum advantage of the extraordinary views. Fulwith Brow House has three main reception rooms, a kitchen, six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a shower room, a two-bedroom staff cottage, former stables and a modernised 19th-century gatelodge. Reportedly, Harrogate Borough Council has informally agreed to consider an application to replace the extension with a more sympathetic building, or even to rebuild the entire house.

* Country Houses for sale