You’ll be able to buy a substantial historic property in Northumberland – and increase your disposable income.
Brick for brick, you get more for your money in Northumberland, where Sam Gibson of Strutt & Parker’s Morpeth office (01670 516123) and Lambert Smith Hampton in Newcastle (0191–232 6291) are handling the sale of stately, Grade II-listed Ridley Hall at Bardon Bridge, near Hexham, at a guide price of £1.65m for the 25-bedroom, neo-Tudor mansion set in 24 acres of private grounds.
The hall borders the National Trust-owned Allen Banks Nature Reserve and stands amid magnificent woodlands of oak and beech in a scenic area wonderfully rich in wildlife.
The original house on the site, built in 1567, was owned by the Ridleys of Willimoteswick. In the late 1600s, it was destroyed by fire and later acquired by the Lowes family, who replaced it with a new Georgian mansion in 1743. The Georgian stables became the western service wing when the present main block was created by the architect Horatio Adamson for the Hon Francis Bowes-Lyon, the uncle of the late Queen Mother, in 1891.
The Bowes-Lyon family spent little time at Ridley Hall and, after the Second World War, the house was sold to the Rev E. A. Evans, who converted it to a prep school, later joining forces with Featherstone Preparatory School from nearby Haltwhistle. However, lack of numbers forced its closure in 1967. The building has since been leased by the local education authority and currently serves as the boarding wing of Haydon Bridge High School, one of few State boarding schools in the country. The expiry of the lease will allow vacant possession from the end of the summer term in June.
The house, which comes with two cottages, has retained many of its historic fittings and neo-Tudor architectural splendour, including stone mullioned and transomed windows, parquet flooring, wall panelling and intricate plasterwork. Among its most notable features are the impressive carved fireplace in the dining room taken from Mottisfont Priory in Hampshire, the stone fireplace in the main hall dating from 1639, and the various Bowes-Lyon heraldic crests.
‘Many potential purchasers baulk at the notion of taking on a former school due to the prospect of having to contend with institutional baggage such as unsightly service extensions or internal alterations, but, thanks to the strict conditions imposed by the Evans family, this is not the case at Ridley Hall. Both house and gardens have been beautifully maintained and are fortunate to have escaped the ravages of inappropriate modernisation,’ comments Mr Gibson.