Country houses for sale

A magnificent country property in Northumberland that last came on to the market 300 years ago

Nunnykirk Hall offers buyers the chance to acquire a majestic, historic building with beautifully preserved period features in a secluded woodland setting.

Arriving onto the market for the first time in an impressive 300 years, Nunnykirk Hall, in the village of the same name and which borders the River Font, in Northumberland, is a rare chance to purchase a Grade I-listed property that’s full of history, grandeur and potential.

The property came into the vendor’s family in 1716 when it was purchased by one Edward Ward, who built a fine Queen Anne house on the site — yet seemingly not quite fine enough for his ancestors, since little more than a century later it was completely remodelled. In 1825 the esteemed north eastern architect John Dobson was brought in to create Nunnykirk Hall as it stands today. Situated in just over 7.5 acres of grounds it is a visually impressive property, prompting Pevsner to describe as ‘the finest of all Dobson’s early houses’, a place with notable Greek touches, exquisite ashlar masonry and plenty of honeysuckle friezes. Nunnykirk Hall is now on the market via agents Galbraith and Savills for offers over £1.5 million.

For a budget that in London would buy you a flat — perhaps this cute two-bed apartment in Little Venice — you’d be the owner of a grand home with a total of 10 bedrooms, set in eight acres of grounds.

For the past 45 years, the property has been leased and used as a school, but now the desks have been packed away, and the opportunity to acquire ‘such a well situated, attractive and historic property’ has arisen. As such, though, a lot of work is needed — but the chance to restore a property of such magnitude is a rare opportunity.

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Records show evidence of dwellings on the site dating as far back as Saxon times. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the property was owned by the Grey family, before passing to the current vendor’s family in 1716 when an Edward Ward built a Queen Anne house on the site. In 1825, Mr Ward’s great grandson, William Orde, commissioned John Dobson to build the house in front of us today.

An excerpt from Hodgson’s History of Northumberland, published in 1827, states that Nunnykirk was the seat of William Orde esq, located ‘on a plot of fine level land in a narrow valley, which is shut up on every side with steep woody banks, excepting the south.’

The house was leased out during the 1920s and 30s, before being requisitioned by the army during the Second World War; after which time, the family moved back in, before offering it up for lease as a school in the 1970s.

As you’d expect, the interiors showcase a wealth of period features, from the porte-cochere framed by dramatic columns which lead to the outer hall, to the coffered dome in the inner hall ceiling and semi-circular staircase with cast iron balustrade. An unusual and noteworthy feature of Nunnykirk Hall is the organ, gifted to Charles Orde in 1873, built by Forster and Andrew of Hull.

An imposing reticulated ceiling and white marble fireplace set the tone in the drawing room. As the photos suggest, some decorative work is needed to uplift the property and rid it of any lingering hints that it was ever a school (blue carpets, we’re looking at you), but the basis from which to create a fine private home or lifestyle business is strong.

The gardens and grounds to the south and west of the property are formed of lawns which lead down to the pretty river frontage. Former school playing fields can be found to the south, and to the north is a large walled garden as well as a row of stone garages, store rooms and workshops.

A former bothy — now derelict — can be found not far from the kitchen garden, offering the potential for alternative use, and the hard-surfaced tennis court (almost derelict) could also do with a facelift.

Nunnykirk Hall is currently on the market via Galbraith and Savills for offers over £1.5 million — see more pictures or enquire with the agent for further details.

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