Country houses for sale

An exquisite private estate in the Cumbrian countryside — complete with fabulous interiors and secret waterfalls in the grounds

The Nunnery is — as the name suggests — a former Benedictine Nunnery that has been the recipient of years of renovation works, transforming the historic property into a breathtaking, spacious home. Penny Churchill reports.

Cumbria’s glorious Eden Valley has been well-named and the setting for imposing, Grade I-listed The Nunnery at Staffield, 10 miles from Penrith, on the fringes of the Lake District National Park, is typical of the area, with traditional livestock farms and rolling grassland falling away to the River Eden, against a distant backdrop of dark, moody fells.

Currently for sale through Savills in York at a guide price of £3.5 million for the whole, the former country-house hotel, set in almost 52 acres of wonderfully private park and woodland close to the village of Kirkoswald, has been beautifully renovated, remodelled and extended by its present owners who acquired it in a fairly run-down state in the early 2000s.

Although the origins of The Nunnery can be traced to a mid-13th-century Benedictine nunnery, according to Country Life (November 23, 2000), the present ‘plain but imposing red sandstone house’ was built by Henry Aglionby in 1718.

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It was Henry’s grandson, Christopher, who, having inherited the estate in 1770, created The Nunnery’s extraordinary secret landscape of pools and waterfalls ‘of fearful grandeur, where the tumultuous Croglin Beck rushes downwards between sandstone cliffs to its confluence with the Eden’.

The 11,000sq ft main house, which offers stylish accommodation on three floors including seven first-floor bedrooms with en suite facilities, has been extended into the nearby courtyard via a cleverly-designed glass staircase that frames the billiard room and leads to the dining hall and three further en suite bedrooms.

Staff accommodation is available in the three-bedroom Corner House in the north-west corner of the courtyard, while to the west of the main house a sun terrace is framed by the castellated southern courtyard wall, also fully restored by the vendors.

The Nunnery is currently on the market via Savills with a guide price of £3.5 million — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details. 

Staffield: What you need to know

Location: In the Eden Valley, 12 miles southeast of Carlisle. Rail services are available at Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite.

Atmosphere: The Eden Valley is formed of a mixture of traditional towns, beautiful green countryside and historic villages.

Things to do: The walking here is incredible, with paths traversing along the river bank. The river runs into the Mallerstand Valley where there is excellent Salmon and Trout fishing opportunities.

Schools: Kirkoswald C of E School,  Lazonby C of E Primary School and Armathwaite School are all within the local area and rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.

See more property for sale in the area.

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