Yorkshire roots run deep, and right now they’re providing vital support for the county’s country-house market. At a time when Yorkshire buyers are more determined than ever to drive a hard bargain, Tim Waring of Knight Frank’s Harrogate office (01423 530088) is negotiating with three City buyers, two of them Yorkshiremen returning home with their families, and the third a southerner who is happy for his Yorkshire-born wife to reclaim her roots, as he commutes from London on a weekly basis.
And Knight Frank recently completed sales of two residential farms, both to Northern buyers: charming Belford Farm (pictured) with 26 acres at Dallowgill, near Ripon, which sold in September for close to the guide price of £1.6 million, and Sycamore Farm, also near Ripon, which fetched slightly less than its £1.85m guide in mid October.
Mr Waring is currently seeking buyers for two exceptional family homes within easy commuting distance of the Leeds-Bradford conurbation. Underlining the market’s resistance to over-pricing, handsome Greenwood House in the thriving conservation village of Birstwith in Lower Nidderdale, seven miles north-west of Harrogate, failed to find a buyer at £2.25m when it was first launched on the market in early July. However, a number of prospective purchasers-including one from Europe-swiftly emerged from the shadows following a reduction to £1.95m in mid October, and serious offers are now forthcoming, the agents say.
Greenwood House was built as a vicarage by the powerful Greenwood family, who settled in the area in 1805, when the far-sighted John Greenwood, a mill owner from Keighley, bought the Swarcliffe estate with its cotton and corn mills, both powered by the River Nidd. Greenwood quickly enlarged the estate and bought more property in the village; in 1850, he built the impressive Swarcliffe Hall (now Belmont Grosvenor prep school) and, shortly afterwards, the exquisite parish church of St James and its vicarage in Birstwith village.
The Swarcliffe estate was broken up and sold off in the 1940s, and Greenwood House was eventually disposed of by the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds in 1993. The house has been stylishly renovated by its present owners, who bought it some 12 years ago. It stands in 1.2 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, and has three main reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, five double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a studio and a converted coach house.
Knight Frank quote a guide price of £2.3m for Grade II-listed Wharfedale Hall, a commanding Georgian stone house in the heart of Boston Spa town, 12 miles from Harrogate, which boasts 1.75 acres of impressive formal gardens and frontage to the River Wharfe. Originally built as a hotel in the 1700s to service the spa trade in the town, which eventually lost out to Harrogate for lack of a train line, Wharfedale Hall became a school in Victorian times, and later a substantial private house with 7,800sq ft of living accommodation on three floors. Today, it has a split-level reception
hall, a ballroom, drawing and dining rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, six bedrooms and three bathrooms, plus a two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor.
As the new head of Strutt and Parker’s sales operation in Harrogate (01423 561274) estate agent Toby Milbank is another homing Yorkshireman in search of a base in his native county. Currently installed in rented accommodation as he looks for a family house, Mr Milbank is also testing the choppy waters of the Yorkshire market with a number of distinguished country houses.
Fresh on the market with a guide price of £2.25m is Grade II-listed Newton Hall in the picturesque village of Newton-under-Roseberry, near Guisborough, seven miles from Middlesbrough. Built in about 1854, and owned at one time by the Astor family, Newton Hall stands in 11 acres of mature gardens and grounds, against the dramatic backdrop of Roseberry Topping.
The elegant interior has three main reception rooms, a games room and study, a kitchen/breakfast room, four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a one-bedroom cottage. Amenities include an indoor swimming-pool complex, a hard tennis court, stabling, garaging and a useful agricultural building with its own separate access.
Having hit the glass ceiling at its original guide price of £3.5m, immaculate Grade II*-listed Rudby Hall at Hutton Rudby, 10 miles from Darlington, looks more tempting at a revised price guide of £2.75m, through Strutt & Parker and Carter Jonas (01423 523423). Built by Anthony Salvin for
the 10th Viscount Falkland, the hall was completed in 1838, and superbly restored in the 1980s. Set in 10 acres of wooded grounds and parkland on the banks of the River Leven, it is now divided into five easily managed houses, centred on the original main house, with its splendid staircase hall,
three grand reception rooms, four first-floor bedrooms and six second-floor bedrooms.
The four ancillary houses-let to provide an income of some £50,000 a year-include a three-bedroom Courtyard House, a two-bedroom Garden House, a two bedroom cottage and a two-bedroom garden apartment. Additonally, the four-bedroom Stables House is available by separate negotiation.
After a bright start to the year, a succession of setbacks,-including the hard winter, the General Election, two budgets and the Spending Review-have drained the Yorkshire market of much of its energy, although offers between £750,000 and £1m are still being made for properties of significant appeal, says Bryan Jaram of Jackson-Stops & Staff in York (01904 625033). He hopes to raise the bar with the launch onto the market of Mill House on the southern outskirts of Ebberston, a classic Yorkshire stone village seven miles from Pickering, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, at a guide price of £1.25m.
Mr Jaram sold the property to its present owners 17 years ago. According to local records, there has been a mill on the site for 600 years or more, although the present property was substantially rebuilt about 50 years ago to create a very special house, set in nine acres of tranquil grounds surrounding the ancient mill-pond, paddock and formal gardens. The accommodation includes
a magnificent galleried hall, three reception rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a conservatory, a large master suite, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.