Country houses for sale

Property in the north of England

The recent surge in viewings that started in the south of England is ‘very definitely’ spreading northwards, says Tim Waring of Knight Frank in Harrogate, who has noted a marked increase in activity as buyers recognise the value for money currently available in the North.

The new mood is reflected in the ‘significant’ levels of interest shown by prospective purchasers, from both Yorkshire and further afield, following the launch onto the market, for the first time in more than 40 years, of Grade II-listed Wauldby Manor  at Welton, in the south Yorkshire Wolds, at a guide price of £1.75 million through Knight Frank (01423 530088) and Savills (01904 617800).

The sale of Wauldby Manor lifts the lid on this accessible but uncluttered area of East Yorkshire, with its gentle hills, tranquil dales, pretty villages and well-ordered farmsteads. Until recently, the manor was the home of the late Tom Hudson and his wife, Margaret, who, in 1968, bought the beautifully proportioned, late-Georgian house with 150 acres, after downsizing from the much larger West Ella Hall nearby. Bridlington-based Classical architect Francis Johnson was commissioned to restore and enhance the 6,302sq ft manor, which has reception and staircase halls, four reception rooms, a master suite, four double bedrooms, a family bathroom and a self-contained two-bedroom flat. Also renovated were the former Anglican chapel, a pretty stone building previously used to house livestock.

On the Hudsons’ retirement from farming, the bulk of the farmland was let, and eventually sold off, with the exception of 11.2 acres of gardens, paddocks and woodland immediately surrounding the house. However, with covenants in place to ensure that the original farmland maintains its arable use, the tranquil setting of picturesque Wauldby Manor is assured for future generations.

With good country houses still in short supply, the sale of a special house will always bring buyers out of the woodwork, says Robin Catterall of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Darlington (01325 489948). Even so, he has been agreeably surprised at the wide-ranging response from mainly cash buyers from all over the country, to the launch in late January of historic Low Walworth Hall, four miles from Darlington, at a guide price of £1.45 million, following the present owner’s decision to downsize.

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Low Walworth Hall, listed Grade II, dates in part from about 1500, and was certainly occupied in the early 16th century, when it was the dower house to nearby Walworth Castle. The hall is very much a traditional country house, with elegant, well-proportioned rooms including entrance and inner halls, four main reception rooms, a master suite, seven bedrooms and two bathrooms, with all the main reception and bedrooms facing south. To the rear, a range of stone outbuildings includes a one-bedroom flat, stabling, garages and outhouses; to the west is a detached three-bedroom cottage with its own garden. The hall stands at the end of a long lane, surrounded by 15 acres of paddocks, grounds and spectacular gardens, including a listed walled rose garden and African, Japanese and water gardens all painstakingly restored or created by the present owner during a 14-year tenure dating from 1995.

Over on the north-east coast, the small town of Seaham, Co Durham, was once the fiefdom of Lord George Gordon Byron, who married the heiress Anna-belle Milbanke at Seaham Hall in 1815. The hall is now a much-lauded country-house hotel and spa, and nearby Greystones, Seaham’s other landmark house and its former rectory, is for sale through Strutt & Parker in Morpeth (01670 516123) at a guide price of £1.25m. 

The handsome stone house, listed Grade II, stands in extensive landscaped gardens on a spectacular clifftop site with dramatic views over the Durham coastline. Sensitively modernised by the present owners, Greystones has three fine reception rooms, a grand staircase hall, a kitchen/breakfast room, a games room, five bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Across the Pennines in Cheshire, Crispin Harris of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Wilmslow (01625 540340) is in surprisingly bullish mood. ‘The quality end of the south Manchester market really got out of the blocks earlier than we expected this year, considering all the negative press we’ve seen,’ he says, adding, ‘the signs are that buyers don’t want to wait too long, and although I certainly don’t think we’re out of the mire yet, I see plenty of potential for increased sales to take place over the next few months’.

Having already concluded one sale at around the £4m mark, Mr Harris is hopeful of finding a taker at £1.95m for The Oak House in rural Arley, eight miles from Knutsford. This beautifully converted mid-17th- century barn stands in 3¼ acres of landscaped gardens, grounds and paddocks and has main and secondary entrance halls, four reception rooms, master and two guest suites, plus three more bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room. Outbuildings include garaging, stabling, kennels and a greenhouse. 

A historic lack of Georgian country houses in Cheshire makes the Old Rectory at Malpas all the more special, says selling agent Jonathan Major of Strutt & Parker (01244 354880), who quotes a guide price of £1.25m for the imposing brick-built house, listed Grade II. Built in about 1760, with late-Victorian alterations, the secluded Old Rectory stands in almost three acres of wooded grounds on the edge of this popular Cheshire village. It has lovely views of the Welsh Hills, and accommodation on three floors, including a reception hall, a formal drawing room, a dining room, a study, a kitchen/breakfast room, four first-floor bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The second floor is arranged as a three-bedroom flat with a dining room, and, in the central bay, a sitting room with a high domed ceiling, where Bishop Reginald Heber of Calcutta is said to have been born on April 21, 1783.