Country houses for sale

A fantastic historic Manor House in County Durham that is up for sale for the first time in 400 years

Known as ‘one of the oldest unaltered L-shaped Manor houses in Northern England,’ Unthank Hall packs a weighty historic punch.

After going 400 years without going up for sale, you’d think that a property would be snapped up pretty quickly  — but even ancient properties with outstanding provenance, history and charm aren’t immune to the ups and downs of the housing and mortgage markets. And so it is that Unthank Hall, a handsome stone property on the market for £625,000, is still looking for a new owner almost two years after it came up for sale.

With mortgage rates easing, agents Strutt & Parker are giving it a fresh push, and you’d think it won’t be long before Unthank Hall is sold this time around. Architectural delights abound — there are Tudor arched fireplaces, mullioned windows and panelled walls — while it’s set in the pretty village of Stanhope in County Durham, lying just south of the River Wear.

Although the current structure dates from the 17th century — with ‘older fabric and walled gardens,’ according to Pevsner —  a house existed on the site long before, with references dating back to 1200. If the name origin is to be believed, a squatter may once have lived here, but, as the history of ‘the manor of Unthank’ dates back to at least 1395, this would be hard to verify.

Hints as to the time period in which certain parts of the house were constructed are evident throughout the property, with beautiful features including a Tudor-arched fireplace, mullioned windows, exposed beams, flagstone floors and wall panelling, all indicative of 16th, 17th and 18th century influences.

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Detailed historical records note that past owners include the family of Merlay, who owned the property from 1393 throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. It later passed to the Maddison family of Aldergill (through marriage), who held the estate for several generations.

In 1635, the property was acquired by the Westgarth family, who held it until the beginning of the 19th century when one of the Westgarth coheiresses married Henry Hildyard in 1780 and thus, the property moved into the ownership of the Hildyard family, where it has remained ever since.

The Grade II listed home stands in the most idyllic of settings, on the southern bank of the River Wear with views over the Weardale Hills. Jason Roberts from the Strutt & Parker Morpeth calls it ‘the pinnacle of a country lifestyle on a smaller scale,’ and that it has, ‘all the charm and character you’d expect but also brings an exciting opportunity for the new owners to make it their own.’

With six bedrooms, two attic rooms and three reception rooms, the house offers comfortable accommodation that could be modified to suit individual needs. The 1.8 acres of gardens surrounding Unthank Hall are equally beguiling, formed of two stone-walled garden paddocks and a formal garden which surrounds the house to the north and west.

Unthank Hall is currently on the market via Strutt & Parker with a guide price of £625,000 — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details. 

Stanhope: What you need to know

Location: In the Durham Dales, 20 miles west of Durham and approximately 28 miles south-west of Newcastle. Bishop Auckland station offers connections to Edinburgh, York, Leeds and London King’s Cross.

Atmosphere: Day-to-day amenities can be found within the village with local shops, several pubs, GP and dental surgery, pharmacy and local primary school.

Things to do: Further leisure and recreational facilities can be found in Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle. Visit Durham for its Romanesque Durham Cathedral, Norman Durham Castle and Botanical Gardens and Newcastle for its restaurant, shopping and nightlife scene.

Schools: Stanhope Barrington C of E Primary School and Frosterley Primary School are both within the area, whilst secondary options can be found closer to Durham, including North Durham Academy, St. Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College and The Oaks Secondary School.

See more property for sale in the area.

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