Country houses for sale

Quality country houses for sale in the north

A few inches of snow were never going to stand between Tim Waring and his first major deal of the new decade, and last week, Knight Frank’s ‘man in Harrogate’ duly agreed the sale of a substantial house in the lower Dales at a guide price of £1.25 million. With the election looming on the horizon, Mr Waring has also hit the ground running with his first major launch of the year, secluded Felliscliffe House at Felliscliffe, five miles west of Harrogate, which is for sale through Knight Frank (01423 530088) at a guide price of £1.6m.

As Leeds shows signs of weathering the financial storm, the country-house market in scenic North Yorkshire is the area most likely to benefit from any upturn. Felliscliffe House was significantly altered some 20 years ago, when the original stone farmhouse was combined with its adjoining stone outbuildings to create an impressive 4,600sq ft country house with two main reception rooms, a conservatory, a large family kitchen, five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a playroom and a teenager’s sitting room. It stands in 15.58 acres of pretty formal gardens, woodland and paddocks in a tranquil rural setting about a mile from the thriving lower Nidderdale village of Hampsthwaite, and within easy commuting distance of both Bradford and Leeds.

Still within the coveted Harrogate catchment area, Charles Yeoman of Strutt & Parker (01423 561274) quotes a guide price of ‘excess £1.5m’ for the impressive, late-Victorian Moorland House at Follifoot, four miles from Harrogate town centre and 15 miles from Leeds. Built in the 1870s of stone under a slate roof, and subsequently extended and improved by the current owners who are trading down, stylish Moorland House stands in more than 4½ acres of enchanting landscaped gardens and paddocks. It has four reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, master and guest suites, three further bedrooms, a family bathroom and two attic rooms. There’s also planning consent to create an orangery leading off the kitchen. Outbuildings include garaging for four cars, stabling, stores and a workshop.

Nick Talbot of Carter Jonas in Harrogate (01423 523423) has laid down his marker for 2010 with the launch onto the market of a real architectural gem, the Grade II*-listed Old Hall at Ripon, which stands in walled gardens within the cathedral precinct, 11 miles from Harrogate and 27 miles from Leeds. A plaque from Ripon Civic Society highlights the importance of ‘this fine house of 1738′, built on the site of one of the medieval prebendal houses that served as a canon’s residence from 1841 to 1858. Rev Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was a regular visitor between 1852 and 1858, during which time he penned Ye Carpette Knyghte, a humorous poem, and Legend of Scotland, a story written for the bishop’s children.

Still the only privately owned house within the cathedral precinct, The Old Hall has exquisite interiors, sensitively restored some years ago by its late owner who died last year. Of particular note is the splendid oak staircase, wonderful plasterwork by the 18th-century master Giuseppe Cortese, who worked on several major country houses in the area, fine pine panelling and fireplaces, and original shutters. The classic 3,634sq ft town house has a reception hall, four reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, a master suite with a gentleman’s dressing room and bathroom, three further bedrooms and a family bathroom, all ‘in need of some updating’, say the agents, who quote a guide price of £750,000.

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In common with other northern agents, Ben Pridden of Savills in York expects one of this year’s main problems to be a shortage of houses for sale, although he anticipates a flurry of activity in the next two to three months. ‘We’ll never have enough town houses in York, or five-bedroom family houses with land in the Howardian Hills. We currently have 20 buyers for houses between £1m and £2m in the Howardian Hills, but the supply just doesn’t match up.’

Meanwhile, Savills (01904 617820) propose a tempting alternative in the shape of Bagby Grange at Bagby near Thirsk, in the lee of the Hambleton Hills, close to the North York Moors National Park and 19 miles north of York. For sale at a guide price of £995,000, Bagby Grange is a substantial, 4,234sq ft country house converted from former farm buildings by the current owner in 1990. Set in about 10 acres of extensive gardens and paddocks, the house has everything a country family could wish for, including a reception hall, a dining room, a snooker room, a study, a garden room, a breakfast kitchen, a first-floor drawing room, four bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Beyond the magnetic field of Yorkshire’s golden triangle, country-house prices drop significantly the further north you go. And, despite the recession, a lack of supply continues to shore up rural property prices in Northumberland, where they still look remarkably reasonable compared with the rest of the UK. With ‘some quite nice things in the larder’ to offer prospective buyers when the snow retreats, Sam Gibson of Strutt & Parker in Morpeth (01670 516123) is generally upbeat about the prospects for 2010. He quotes a guide price of £475,000 for handsome Georgian Thropton Hall in the heart of Thropton village, two miles from the market town of Rothbury and 13½ miles from Alnwick.

The former presbytery, listed Grade II, adjoins All Saints church, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Northumberland, although nowadays, regular services are only held on Wednesday mornings. The house, which needs ‘some titivation’, has four reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, four bedrooms, a family bathroom, various outbuildings and 0.39 acres of pretty, partly walled, mature garden.

Gordon house sees the light

Although high-flying developers all about are blaming their misfortune on the recession, James Taylor’s Private Property Group (020-8964 2010) may well have timed the launch onto the market of illustrious Gordon House at Richmond, Surrey, to perfection. Having purchased the spectacular Italianate mansion at the heart of Octagon Homes’ 14-acre Richmond Lock development in 2007, Mr Taylor has stuck to his vision of recreating the 20,000sq ft Gordon House, listed Grade II, with its adjacent Sir Geoffrey Lion House, former chapel and garaging for 16 cars, as London’s largest Thamesside private house. Now meticulously restored to the Victorian grandeur enjoyed by the flamboyant 19th-century landowner Lord Kilmorey, who bought and embellished the previously modest Georgian house for his mistress, Priscilla, Gordon House is on the market for the first time in its 300-year history, at ‘offers in excess of £25m’.

Once part of the ancient Twickenham Park estate purchased by Lord Kilmorey in 1851, Gordon House and its grounds lost their privileged residential status in the early 20th century, becoming first a girls’ home, then a college, and, more recently, the Twickenham campus for London Brunel University. With considerable design input from David Linley, this remarkable property has breathtaking interiors, including a grand reception hall with its original tiled floor and carved oak staircase, and four magnificent reception rooms, including the famous Robert Adam room with its original Adam ceiling and marble fireplace, and an impressive ballroom, which has the option to convert to an indoor swimming pool. There are eight principal bedrooms, each with en-suite bath or shower facilities, plus a cinema, a nursery and various family rooms. With well-heeled UK and overseas buyers already showing serious interest in acquiring this ultimate riverside trophy house, Mr Taylor and his syndicate are confident that they’ve backed a real winner in Gordon House.

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