These historic houses in the north are genuinely beautiful properties; both have been carefully and lovingly restored
Described by its dynamic owners, Christopher and Nonie Ward, as ‘the Scottish Borders’ best-kept secret’, exquisite, four-square Georgian Glenburn Hall stands at the heart of a 67-acre estate, screened by banks of ancient woodland from the historic town of Jedburgh, Roxburghshire.
Designed by the architect William Elliot of Kelso and completed in 1815, the handsome, Category A-listed mansion, together with its original walled garden, buildings, grass parks and woodland, which has been their cherished family home for almost 20 years, has been meticulously restored inside and out.
Now that their children are grown up and scattered around the world, Glenburn Hall, is again for sale, at a guide price of £1.6 million through the Lauder office of Knight Frank (01578 722814). Commenting on the launch of this ‘rare gem’, selling agent Ran Morgan expects its appeal ‘to go well beyond the location, attracting buyers who are looking for that very special type of house, but who may never have considered the Scottish Borders before’.
The land on which Glenburn Hall stands was acquired in 1767 by Thomas Waugh, a writer in Jedburgh. Following his death, the estate eventually passed to his grandson, Thomas Ormiston; it was he who commissioned Elliot to build his grand new house. The estate remained with the Ormistons until 1878, when it was bought by Charles Anderson, a solicitor and banker in Jedburgh. In 1968, the Anderson family sold the hall and estate to Maj Arthur Gibson and his wife, Bee, who sold it, in turn, to the present owners, in 1998.
A former Daily Express editor, publisher and best-selling author, Mr Ward cut his journalistic teeth on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle in the late 1950s. Although London-based, he and his wife, a journalist specializing in architecture and interior design, had long enjoyed their weekend cottage in Northumberland’s College valley, and were looking for ‘somewhere to settle’ with their five children.
Having heard on the grapevine that Glenburn Hall was about to be sold, they bought the property ‘for the house, rather than the location’ and, during their first two years, set about undoing the damage of the previous 50. ‘The dene had become impenetrable due to fallen timber and dense undergrowth; dead trees and broken limbs were winched out, paths and undergrowth cleared, bridges built over both streams.
‘In 2000, to mark the new millennium, we planted more than 1,000 new trees and replanted the beech hedge running the length of the old drive, from the hall to the old Castle Jail—now a pretty woodland walk to the town. We also redesigned and re-planted the walled garden to provide vegetables as well as flowers for the house,’ Mr Ward recalls. The renovation of the mansion house, executed in Mrs Ward’s favoured minimalist style, won them a Commendation for Conservation by the Scottish Borders Council in 2000, but that was only the beginning of a long and often daunting process.
Starting from day one, the roof was re-slated and re-leaded and the surrounding stone balustrades repaired and replaced. At the same time, the house was rewired, re-plumbed and redecorated throughout, plasterwork and cornices repaired and chimneys re-lined. Blind windows were opened out to flood the ground-floor rooms with light and industrial boilers installed to provide hot water and central heating throughout, with a generator to provide back-up in case of power cuts. Now, with four immaculate reception rooms, six bedrooms (including three enchanting children’s rooms), four bathrooms, a study, a modern kitchen and super-fast broadband, Glenburn Hall is perfectly poised to welcome another successful writer— and preferably one with a large and boisterous family.
The owners of Kirby Knowle Castle, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, took on an even greater challenge when, 16 years ago, they bought the landmark building set in 38 acres of formal gardens, parkland, paddock and woodland on the south-western edge of the Hambleton Hills, as a dream family home for themselves and their numerous children.
Having roamed free throughout the castle and the surrounding countryside, their children have now fled the nest and the owners are looking to buy somewhere with more land, reports Hilary Pegrum of Blenkin & Co (01904 671672), who are joint agents with Carter Jonas (01904 558200) in the sale of the castle, at a guide price of £4m.
The original castle was built by Sir Roger de Lascelles in the late 13th century, but partly destroyed by fire in 1568. It was left in a dilapidated state before being bought in 1653 by James Danby, who repaired the ruins using stone from the adjoining castle at Upsall and added the south and west wings.
His work was continued by the Rokeby family, with the final phase of alterations taking place in 1875, when the mansion was rebuilt and remodelled in its present form. Painstakingly renovated by its present owners, the castle has extensive accommodation on three floors, including reception and inner halls, four reception rooms, two kitchens, a master suite and four en-suite bedrooms on the first floor and three further bedrooms, a studio and games room on the second.