Country houses for sale

An 800-year-old home for sale that comes with a medieval hall, maze — and possibly even a ghost

All manner of homes have come to the market this year, but Crook Hall, Durham, is quite unlike anything we've seen. Penny Churchill takes a look.

Any house that hits the 800-year-old mark — as Crook Hall, Durham, did in 2017 — will have plenty of tales to tell. Few, though, are as dramatic as those told of this medieval building, where the White Lady has, in her time, been credited with ringing bells and even turning over tables at dinner gatherings. Today, house, hall and all are up for sale; Andrew Black of Savills is handling the £1.75 million sale of Grade I-listed Crook Hall.

Crook Hall lies in the Framwelgate area of the city of Durham, the oldest part of which is the open hall itself that dates from the 13th century, but as the pictures show here it is also a comfortable and characterful home.

The hall isn’t named for any misdeed. Instead, it takes its name from Peter del Croke, whose ancestor, Aimery, son of the Archdeacon of Durham, was granted the manor of Sydgate in 1217, it is the only known domestic open hall in the county.

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The hall was extended in the 17th century to form a Jacobean manor house until, in the 18th century, a large, three-storey, brick Georgian townhouse was linked to the 17th-century manor to create a substantial, 6,517sq ft house, with views across the River Wear to Durham Cathedral.

The gardens are as much a feature of the property as the buildings: there are over five acres here, once described by Alan Titchmarsh as a ‘tapestry of colourful blooms’.

Unusually, they are arranged as a series of outdoor rooms: the Cathedral lawn, the Shakespeare garden, the silver and white garden and the walled gardens, for example. There is also large, open larger lawned garden area between the house and pond, as well as a vegetable patch and a paddock.

In addition, there’s a maze — though that is part of an additional lot. The hall and its famous gardens are being offered for the £1.75m asking price, with the adjoining Garden Gate Café, maze and private car park available subject to separate negotiation.

As for what lies ahead? Well, Crook Hall has been run by its present owners as a successful tourist and wedding venue, until lockdown. The new owner will have the option to either occupy the entire six/seven-bedroom main house privately or adapt it for mixed private and commercial use.

Crook Hall is for sale via Savills — see more pictures and details.