With little prospect of an early improvement in the supply of good country houses for sale at sensible prices, many frustrated buyers would willingly take on a restoration project if they could find the right subject. But with small period houses in need of restoration becoming ever rarer in the south of England, some may consider looking north, where there are still some real gems to be found tucked away in quiet corners of the countryside.
They’ll have to hurry if they’re hoping to get their hands on the impressive-looking, Grade II-listed Old Vicarage at Hambleton, near Selby, North Yorkshire, which was launched on the market in early October with a guide price of £500,000 through Strutt & Parker in Harrogate (01423 561274). It goes to sealed bids tomorrow after more than 120 viewings. The four-bedroom former vicarage, with its adjoining coach house and outbuildings-all in need of total renovation-stands in more than an acre of wooded landscaped gardens in the heart of this popular village, 16 miles from Leeds city centre.
Andrew Turner of Smiths Gore in York (01904 756303) hopes that, following an abortive sale, a reduction in price from £1.9 million to £1.35m will tip the scales in favour of Brawby Park at Brawby, in the heart of rural Ryedale, close to the North Yorkshire Moors and five miles from the racing town of Malton.
Run as a successful dairy operation for many years, Brawby Park comprises a substantial, six-bedroom Victorian farmhouse in need of some modernisation, with extensive traditional and modern farm buildings, set in almost 40 acres of gardens, paddocks and parkland. The property would make an ‘ideal’ equestrian property, the agents suggest; alternatively, the period farm buildings near the house could be converted to residential use, subject to the usual planning consents.
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Over in Cumbria, it will take ‘a proper job’ to restore the imposing Grade II-listed Warcop House (pictured) at Warcop, near Appleby-in-Westmorland, to its former glory, believes selling agent Andrew Holmes of Carter Jonas in Kendal (01539 722592). He quotes a guide price of £925,000 for the 9,921sq ft, 13-bedroom, late-Georgian main house, built in two parts around a 16th-/17th-century core, with its coach house, cottage (a former inn), stables and outbuildings, all in need of serious renovation.
Warcop stands in five acres of gardens and grounds, which include a productive walled kitchen garden, a meadow and orchards, in the centre of the ancient stone village of Warcop, once owned by the Cliffords, between the historic market towns of Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. Mr Holmes estimates the cost of restoring Warcop House at between £300,000 and £400,000, after which he believes that the property would be worth about £1.75m.
‘But for the slow market of late, the Old Rectory at Coddington, eight miles from Chester, which requires a comprehensive scheme of modernisation, would have sold very readily,’ says Stephen Cheshire of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chester (01244 328361), who are joint-agents in the sale with the local office of Strutt & Parker (01244 328361).
Launched on the market in July, a reduced guide price of £825,000 is now quoted for the charming, Grade II-listed former rectory, rebuilt in 1820, which, Mr Cheshire says, needs rewiring, replumbing, a new kitchen and several bathrooms: at present, it has one bathroom serving seven bedrooms. On the plus side, it has a coach house with planning consent for conversion to a cottage, and two acres of gardens and grounds running down to Coddington Brook.
Across the Cheshire border in Wales, Strutt & Parker (01244 354888) quote a guide price of £485,000 for Plas Yn Llan, near Ruthin, Denbigh-shire, a handsome, unmodernised, 18th-century farmhouse, with outbuildings, stabling and 5.1 acres of gardens and paddocks.
The delightful red-brick house, listed Grade II* for its ‘special interest as a fine early-18th-century gentry house with well-preserved façade and good surviving interior detail’ is thought to have been built by Jacob Conway of the Bodrhyddan family, whose crest of a blackamoor’s head survives on the entrance-gate piers.
Plas Yn Llan stands in an idyllic rural setting, two miles from Ruthin and 27 miles from Chester, and has three main reception rooms, five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a courtyard and lawned gardens, and planning consent to convert a stone outbuilding into a two-bedroom annexe or holiday cottage.