Tag Archives: Property

MAMHEAD HOUSE

This country house, described as “one of the finest houses in the South of England” was Anthony Salvin’s first major commission.

The magnificent Mamhead house which dominates the East Devon coastline has a rich and interesting history. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead House, in the Haldon Hills, Devon, is one of those country houses that hasn’t been able to find its identity in recent times. For many years we have known this Grade I-listed Tudor-Gothic property as Mamhead Park, and it has just been launched on the market at Strutt & Parker, price on application.

The impressive late Georgian country house that today stands overlooking the dramatic scenery of the coast was built in 1833, replacing a much older house. Image: Strutt & Parker.

This is one of many houses that has stood on the estate. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the estate passed through several distinguished families. In 1547 it was bought by the Balle family. In 1672, Peter Balle, an attorney to Queen Henrietta Mara, was awarded a baronetcy for his services. Later, William of Orange billeted his supporters on the estate. It passed into the hands of the Earl of Lisburne who sold it to Robert William Newman, MP, in 1822.

The imposing home was designed by celebrated English architect Anthony Salvin. An architect who was renowned for his expertise on medieval buildings and restored many castles and churches. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

Robert Newman was a senior partner of Newman and Co, general merchants of Dartmouth. Originally Hunt, Newman, Roope, Teague and Co, the company had buccaneered out to Newfoundland, and commenced selling salted codfish to Portugal in the 1500s, encountering wines of that country through bartering fish for wine. In time, the company built up its own shipping fleet.

Newman’s family motto ‘Ubi amor ibi fides’ (where there is love there is trust) is exquisitely carved above the grand front door. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

When Robert Newman bought Mamhead Park for £106,000 the original house was built on low-ground, without the views across the Exe Estuary. He turned to Charles Fowler, an architect born in Cullompton and articled in Exeter, who produced several E-shaped plans for his client. Fowler probably intended to rebuild Mamhead Park on the site of the existing house. Alas, Newman rejected each plan, excited by new building styles and preferring a new house about 400 yards up a hill to the west of the old mansion.

The classically proportioned house has played host to a great many kings, queens and distinguished royals from around the world. Queen Adelaide even had her own private bedroom, now entitled the Queen’s Room. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

Newman instead gambled on Anthony Salvin, an aspiring young architect, who grasped his first major commission. Built of mellow Bath stone, Salvin retained one of Fowler’s original ground plans into the design and construction commenced in 1827 and the shell completed by the following year. It was a slow-build. The new house was funded out of Newman’s income and its interiors weren’t completed until 1833.

The beautiful building boasts a glorious facade constructed out of mellow Bath stone and is made up of ornate stone carvings and towering chimneys. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead Park was a ‘marriage house’ for his new bride, Mary, and one befitting a man of his status. Robert Newman had become MP for Exeter in 1818 and became a baronet in 1836.

He was succeeded by his son, Captain. Sir Robert Lydston Newman, who was killed at the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854, and Mamhead passed to his brother, Sir Lydston Newman, whose son, a prominent churchman, was created Lord Mamhead in 1931.

He died unmarried in 1945, leaving life tenancy of the estate to his brother-in-law, Frederick Lumley.

The romance of the place is unquestionable even from afar and only grows as we encounter the beautifully restored wood panelling, fine plaster work and beautiful stained glass—designed by Thomas Willement, heraldic artist to William IV— of the interiors. Image: Strutt & Parker.

On succeeding in 1948, Sir Ralph Newman, great-grandson of the first baronet, was able to buy back furnishings but eventually abandoned the idea of living on a grand scale.

In 1954, he sold the estate, but retained the house and 20 acres, choosing to let the fully furnished property to an evangelical organisation. Mamhead was sold to Dawlish College for Boys in 1963 and was acquired by a property company in 1988, who converted the house and stables into offices, at one time occupied by the Forestry Commission.

The property seems to have a natural flow as we are transported from beautiful room to beautiful room; some of the most impressive being the oak room, dining room, library and drawing rooms. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead Park returned to private use in 2000 and twelve years later was bought by a group of overseas investors, headed by Richard Fuller, for £8 million.

After considering various uses, including an ill-fated wedding business, the mansion is once again available to buy.

The property also features a music room, summer dining room, sitting room, study, snooker room and snug, Image: Strutt & Parker.

The sale also includes Grade II*-listed Mamhead Castle, also designed by Salvin as stables at the same time as the big house, a copy of a pele tower at 14th century Belsay Castle in Northumberland, and currently providing six office suites.  

One of the most intriguing things about Mamhead though is the fact that it has its own Grade II listed castle on the grounds. Believed to be an architectural copy of Belsay Castle in Northumberland, the astonishing building is constructed of local red sandstone in the baronial Gothic style and was originally used as stabling and a brewery. Image: Strutt & Parker.

POOL PARK

“The hall was last occupied by Sir Ernest Tate, who would see to it that the place was left in a good state. The interior is in exceedingly good condition.” Unfortunately, a lot has changed since 1932. 

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The Pool Park estate was once a deer park belonging to nearby Ruthin Castle. The house was established in the 16th century and later belonged to Thomas Needham. Thereafter the estate became the property of the Salusbury family. JACKSON-STOPS.

In 1932, Mr A.O. Evans of the North Wales Counties Mental Hospital Committee, attempted to calm his colleagues over the potential purchase of Pool Park, near Ruthin, in Denbighshire.

“The hall was last occupied by Sir Ernest Tate who, is one of those gentlemen who, regardless of any obligation, would see to it that the place was left in a good state. The interior is in exceedingly good condition.”

These words might well echo around the empty corridors of Pool Park today. The former country house is up for sale at Jackson-Stops with offers wanted in excess of £1.75 million.

Any buyer is going to get a bit of a shock.

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The present house and buildings were laid out between 1826 and 1829 by architect John Buckler for the 2nd Lord Bagot. JACKSON-STOPS.

The property has stood empty since 1989, when it closed as a hospital. It is not surprising that the sales brochure doesn’t include any internal photographs, the external images are concerning enough. However, urban explorers have produced a raft of photographs that can be found across the internet. In short, the interior is in exceedingly bad condition!

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Pool Park originally had mock half-timbering to the upper storey. This was removed in the 1930s. NICHOLAS KINGSLEY.

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The half-timbering was removed and replaced with plain white stucco. RCAHMW WALES.

Pool Park was rebuilt by the William Bagot, 2nd Lord Bagot(1773–1856)) in 1826-29 to the designs of John Buckler, and assisted by local architect Benjamin Gummow. The family chose to live at Blithfield Hall in Staffordshire, often renting Pool Park to tenants. These included George Richards Elkington, a Birmingham electroplater, Robert Blezard, a Liverpool brewer, and Sir Ernest Tate, president of Tate and Lyle, sugar refiners.

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William Bagot (1773-1856), the eldest son of 1st Baron Bagot and his second wife Elizabeth Louisa St. John. He died at his home in Blithfield, Staffordshire. Portrait by John Hoppner. BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON.

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In the 17th century, the Salusbury estates were divided between two sons of William Salusbury, with Bachymbyd and Pool Park passing to his daughter, Jane, who married Sir Walter Bagot of Blithfield in 1670. JACKSON-STOPS.

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Lord Bagot never used Pool Park as a main residence, the house often tenanted. Its last tenant was Sir Ernest Tate who stayed for about twenty years. JACKSON-STOPS.

It was sold in 1928, no doubt anticipating the purchase by the North Wales Counties Mental Hospital Committee, who were looking for an overflow for the Denbigh Mental Asylum. It wasn’t until 1937 that the hospital actually opened, but it would serve its purpose until 1989.

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Pool Park was sold to the North Wales Counties Mental Hospital for £12,000 in the early 1930s. At the time it was a controversial decision and it didn’t open until 1937. JACKSON-STOPS.

It was sold by the National Health Service (NHS) in 1992, but very little has happened to it since. In 2012, planning permission was submitted to turn it into a care village with 38 homes and 60 apartments. This came to nothing and the house has deteriorated since.

According to the estate agent, this property is perfect for further redevelopment, subject to planning permission, but requires major renovation.

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The interiors of Pool Park are not shown in the sales brochure. However, the current state of the house can be found on various urban explorer sites. CATHERINE JACKSON PHOTOGRAPHY.

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The Imperial staircase is thought to be from the early 20th century. Some of the wood was said to have come from another house called Clocaenog. ROLFEY/DERELICT PLACES.

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Dark and decaying. Pool Park still contains original features, but painstaking work will be needed to restore them. ROLFEY/DERELICT PLACES.

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The staircase contains fine case-shaped oak-carved balusters and figurative panels. ROLFEY/DERELICT PLACES.

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Pool Park continued as an hospital until 1989. It was sold to a developer, but has been empty ever since. JACKSON-STOPS.

SHUDY CAMPS HALL

Unlike many country houses requisitioned by the military in World War Two, this property survived and has even had parts of its former estate reinstated.

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Shudy Camps Hall, in the farming village of Shudy Camps, Cambridgeshire, had remained in the same family — the Dayrells — for three generations, and later, in the prewar years, was home to the Rev Canon Thornton, the Vicar of Shudy Camps and canon emeritus of Ely Cathedral. SAVILLS.

Despite the positive noises from estate agents, there appears to be a slowdown in the sale of large country houses. Take Shudy Camps Hall in Cambridgeshire, featured here two years at a guide price of £5 million, later dropped to £4.5 million, and now available to buyers at Savills for a much reduced £3.75 million. However, the latest price has stripped out the Elizabethan House and Park Lodge, now available as separate lots.

Shudy Camps Hall is a Grade II listed Queen Anne House. It is fundamentally a 17th century house with later 18th and 19th century additions.

Also referred to as Shudy Camps Park, it was built by Marmaduke Dayrell about 1700 and remained with the family for three generations. The Rev. Richard Dayrell offered the debt-burdened Shudy Camps Park estate for sale in 1898.

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Shudy Camps is close to the village of Castle Camps, an area steeped with interesting history, which lies 15 miles south east of the city of Cambridge. SAVILLS.

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Standing in the centre of 29 acres, Shudy Camps Hall, has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and seven reception rooms. SAVILLS.

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Shudy Camps Hall. SAVILLS.

Shudy Camps Hall was bought by Arthur Gee, who perhaps thought his surname not grand enough and changed it to Maitland. He died in 1903 and the house, along with 300 acres, was sold to the Rev. Cannon F.F.S.M.Thornton, Vicar of Shudy Camps and Canon Emeritus of Ely Cathedral.

On his death in 1939 the estate was broken up – the parkland was requisitioned by the British Army and the house occupied by the Royal Air Force. It has now returned to private ownership and over the last few years the estate has been gradually pieced back together with the acquisition of various cottages within the grounds.

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Shudy Camps Hall. SAVILLS.

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Shudy Camps Hall. SAVILLS.

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Shudy Camps Hall. SAVILLS.

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A striking well-proportioned Grade II listed house with a particularly long symmetrical façade of 19th Century paired twelve pane hung sashes flanked by 18th Century wings, it was originally a 17th Century house with later 18th and 19th Century additions. Notable external features include symmetrical arched windows in the wings to either side and a central pillared porch believed to be part of the 19th Century alterations. SAVILLS.

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When Shudy Camps Park was requisitioned by the War Office in 1939, members of the Royal Air Force moved into The Hall, a handsome Queen Anne house that nestled in the park grounds. SAVILLS.

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The present owners have acquired other cottages in the grounds: the four-bedroom Elizabethan House, which forms part of the courtyard to the rear of The Hall; and The Lodge, another well-appointed four-bedroom house nearby. SAVILLS.

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The Hall is a quintessential Queen Anne country house with views over its own park like grounds and surrounding rolling countryside. SAVILLS.

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Shudy Camps Hall. SAVILLS.

SUNDRIDGE PARK

When the previous house on the site was demolished around 1796 John Nash became involved in the project to create Sundridge Park alongside landscape architect Humphrey Repton who was already working on the site.

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First mentioned in a charter dated 987, Sundridge (or Sundresse, as it was originally known) was in the hands of the Le Blund family for several centuries from around 1220. CITY & COUNTRY.

Few London golf courses can boast such an impressive architectural legacy as Sundridge Park in the London Borough of Bromley suburbs.

In grounds laid out by renowned 19th-century landscape designer Humphry Repton stands the Grade I-listed John Nash mansion where Edward VII attended shooting parties at the estate, before the golf course was cut out of the valley.

The refurbished house is now The Mansion at Sundridge Park, with 22 flats by heritage developer City & Country, including some in a new annexe, priced from £425,000 to £2.5 million.

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From the 17th century a succession of wealthy Londoners lived here and a three-storey brick house was built on the southern slope of the Quaggy River valley early in the 18th century. Sir Claude Scott purchased that house in 1795 and demolished it on the advice of Humphry Repton, building the present mansion on the opposite slope and creating the park. CITY & COUNTRY.

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Owners of properties within The Mansion will benefit from the exclusive setting of the development within the Sundridge Park golf course, beautifully maintained landscaping and excellent specification. CITY & COUNTRY.

From the 17th century a succession of wealthy Londoners lived here and a three-storey brick house was built here early in the 18th century. Sir Claude Scott purchased that house in 1795 and demolished it on the advice of Humphry Repton, building the present mansion on an opposite slope and creating the park. The stuccoed stately home was designed by John Nash and the work was completed under the direction of Samuel Wyatt.

The park became a golf course, with a new clubhouse opened by prime minister Arthur James Balfour in 1903.

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When the railway line to Bromley North opened in 1878 the Scott family had a station built for their private use. Sir Edward Scott won fame for breeding pheasants and his namesake the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) was equally well-known for his love of killing them. Understandably, the two men became friends and the prince often visited Sundridge Park for game-shooting weekends. CITY & COUNTRY.

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Near the end of the century Sir Edward began to sell off the estate and a rebuilt station opened to the public as Sundridge Park in 1896. The park became a golf course, with a new clubhouse opened by prime minister AJ Balfour in 1903. What began as a nine-hole course has since grown into a pair of what Nikolaus Pevsner calls “unusually umbrageous” eighteen-hole courses. CITY & COUNTRY.

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Sundridge Park mansion functioned as a luxury hotel until after the Second World War and became a management centre in 1956. A new block of residential accommodation was completed in 1970. The mansion until recently hosted meetings, events, team building exercises and the like. CITY & COUNTRY.

Sundridge Park mansion functioned as a luxury hotel until after the Second World War and became a management centre in 1956. A new block of residential accommodation was completed in 1970.

The grand staircase, plasterwork and 18th-century paintings have now been restored. The homes are reached via the estate’s lodge entrance and a half-mile drive beside the fairways.

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Each of these grand properties has been meticulously designed to optimise natural light and make the most of the period features which have been expertly restored. CITY & COUNTRY.

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The last of the Scotts to live at Sundridge was Sir Samuel Edward Scott (1873-1943), the sixth baronet. Sir Samuel Edward made two unsuccessful attempts to sell the estate and at the turn of the century the farmland to the south-east and south-west was sold off as building plots. In 1901 the park was leased to a company who formed a golf club. CITY & COUNTRY.

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The mansion was again put up for auction in 1904 but failed to reach its reserve price and was leased as an hotel, the owners of the hotel eventually purchasing the freehold in 1920. CITY & COUNTRY.

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Original features include restored shutters and windows, beautiful ceilings with ornate plasterwork, restored wall panelling and an impressive oak fireplace with decorative surround. CITY & COUNTRY.

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Sundridge Park became one of the premier hotels in the south London area until the Second Word War when it was closed for the duration of hostilities. Re-opening in the post-war period, it failed to prosper, and the company went into voluntary liquidation. The entire contents were sold and the mansion remained empty for two years until it, along with 16 acres of surrounding parkland, was bought by Ernest Butten as a management training centre. CITY & COUNTRY.

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The last of the Scotts to live at Sundridge was Sir Samuel Edward Scott (1873-1943), the sixth baronet. Sir Samuel Edward made two unsuccessful attempts to sell the estate and at the turn of the century the farmland to the south-east and south-west was sold off as building plots. In 1901 the park was leased to a company who formed a golf club. CITY & COUNTRY.

BRAMLEY MEADE

Bramley Meade was built on the proceeds of the textile industry. One hundred years ago it was up for sale. It gained prominence as a maternity home but, a century later, history is repeating itself .

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

One hundred years ago, in February 1919, the sale of country estates gained momentum, with the latest property added to the auction catalogues being Bramley Meade at Whalley in Lancashire.

The mansion of “modern architectural design” contained five entertaining rooms, a noble staircase and eight principal bedrooms. In addition to the house, the auction scheduled for April 1919, would also include the entire contents, including furniture “made from the best selected timbers by Harrison of Burnley.” There was also a 30 H.P. Daimler Landaulette up for grabs as well.

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The preliminary sale notice for Bramley Meade taken from February 1919. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

Bramley Meade was built in 1882, in the style of Italian Renaissance, for textile manufacturer Richard Thompson, proprietor of Britannia and Alma Mills in Padham, and was one of a number of prestigious residences built north of Whalley in the late 19th century.

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Richard Thompson, JP (1831-1913). “A man of iron will and strong determination, gifted with foresight and an extraordinary capacity for business, one of the first of Lancashire’s captains of industry.” From the Burnley Express in February 1913. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

Richard Thompson died in 1913 and the mansion eventually passed, in 1919, to Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Alfred Dixon, Royal Field Artillery, who died in 1925.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

Passing to Thomas Allan Collinge, a Burnley manufacturer, Bramley Meade was bought by Lancashire County Council to become a maternity home for the Clitheroe borough and rural districts in 1946. However, it stood empty for several years before finally opening in 1951 and operated until 1992. After that time, the property was converted back into a family residence.

A century after that sale notice appeared, Bramley Meade Hall is back on the market, now with the addition of an indoor heated swimming pool. Although the asking price has been kept a secret, it is understood from Athertons that it will be in the millions of pounds.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

CALLINGWOOD HALL

A turreted property, this castle in the country has been refurbished by the present owners, taking advantage of grand period features, and it has been home to some very prominent people.

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FINE & COUNTRY

This four-bedroom property may need to come with a warning to heritage connoisseurs. The east wing of Callingwood Hall, at Tatenhill near Burton-on-Trent, is on the market at Fine & Country with offers wanted over £1 million. The Grade II listed country house is believed to date back from the early 18th century, with later 19th century additions, and was originally part of Lord Burton’s Rangemore estate. Look beyond the ‘Great British’ theme and you’ll see that its period features are still evident.

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FINE & COUNTRY

A spokesman for estate agent says: “A simply stunning turreted property, this castle in the country has been thoroughly refurbished by the present owners to offer a comfortable modern family home with an abundance of grand period features, coupled with an impressive facade and captivating views.”

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FINE & COUNTRY

Callingwood Hall was probably built for Sir Theophilus de Biddulph and remained in the family until it was sold by his great-grandson in 1796 to the Evans family of Allestree. It descended to Spencer Stone and was later occupied by Major Edmund Probyn. The estate was sold in 1889 to Michael Arthur Bass, 1st Baron Burton (1837-1909), a brewer, philanthropist and Liberal politician. The Bass family descended from William Bass, who founded the brewery business of Bass & Co in Burton upon Trent in 1777.

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FINE & COUNTRY

Lord Burton’s principal home was Rangemore Hall meaning that for large periods Callingwood Hall was tenanted. Amongst the notable residents were the Rev Edward Ash Were, former Bishop of Stafford and Bishop Suffragen of Derby, Alexander William Stopford Sackville, Sir Digby Lawson, Captain Maurice J. Kingscote and Colonel James Alister Eadie, chairman of Wilson’s Brewery, Newton Heath, Manchester. Callingwood was probably sold in the late 1940s.

Callingwood Hall was later split up into ‘wings’.

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FINE & COUNTRY

BRADFORD MANOR

This old country house once  boasted an 1,110-acre estate complete with five farms and three workers’ cottages. They now make up the hamlet around the manor.

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The 10th Century Bradford Manor was damaged by fire in around 1770. Purchased and then rebuilt in the 1860s, the existing Manor was styled and rebuilt by J. T. English. Image: Fine & Country.

Bradford Manor, near Holsworthy, in Devon,  is being marketed by Fine & Country, with offers wanted over £1.95 million.

The manor house stands on the site of an older manor house destroyed by fire in the 1770’s and subsequently demolished.

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The previous Bradford Manor was a Doomsday recorded Manor dating back to the 11th century. Image: Fine & Country.

The present house was built in 1868 by Joseph Thomas English (1819-1892), a successful businessman who was married twice and had ten children. He was the younger brother of Henry Hampden English and together they founded English Brothers, timber merchants, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. J.T. English subsequently moved to Stamford (Lincolnshire), Stratford-on-Avon (Warwickshire), Stratton (Cornwall) and finally Bradford (North Devon). Amazingly these moves all took place in the 1860’s. When he built Bradford Manor the estate was 11,000 acres with five farms. As well as managing his estate he held shares in shipping, railways and finance.

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Bradford Manor contains many original Victorian features including panelled doors, fireplaces, moulded coving ceilings and a servants’ bell system. Image: Fine & Country.

Following his death the house passed through several sons but the longest tenant was Alexander Emanuel English (1872-1962), the younger son, who obtained the freehold of Bradford Manor in 1904. He was frequently absent in India and Burma during a long career with the Indian Civil Service.

The house was extended during the mid-20th century and comprises of 25 rooms. The sale also includes a Victorian walled garden, open fronted carriage barn, coach house, garaging and extensive stone and slate barns.

As property owner of this important historic and quality manor house the prestigious title, Lord and Lady of Bradford, is obtained which rarely becomes available.

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Bradford Manor has a pillared entrance with lighting and wrought iron railings. There is a front door screen with solid hardwood door and brass fittings, door lock and bell push with etched glass over, and sash side windows. Image: Fine & Country.

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Bradford Manor has four reception rooms and six bedrooms. Image: Fine & Country.

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Each room has been sympathetically refurbished in keeping with its age and style with particular quality in its recent library, kitchen and master bedroom en-suite bathroom. Image: Fine & Country.

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The first floor landing area contains a number of period features, including original sash windows with deep sill and wood panels. Image: Fine & Country.

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A period wood banister staircase climbs to the first floor. Image: Fine & Country.

WYFOLD COURT

After a period as Borocourt Hospital this Victorian mansion has been completely restored to its original appearance both inside and out.

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In the 1970s critic Jennifer Sherwood summarised Wyfold Abbey’s architecture as a “Nightmare Abbey”. Image: Hamptons International.

Wyfold Court, the Grade-II listed Gothic mansion at Rotherfield Pepppard, in Oxfordshire, was built between 1872 and 1873, during the reign of Queen Victoria, for Edward Hermon, Conservative MP for Preston and a partner in Horrocks, Miller and Co, cotton merchants. It was designed by the architect George Somers Clarke, who was a pupil of Sir Charles Barry, and the visionary behind the Houses of Parliament.

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The south-west front of Wyfold Court in 1888, showing the porte cochere. Image: Historic England.

In the late 1990s, Wyfold was converted into eleven apartments by English Heritage. The four bedroom apartment that’s currently on the market at Hamptons International for £1.85 million occupies one of the mansion’s most impressive corners.

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Edward Hermon’s only daughter was Frances Caroline Hermon who married Robert Hodge, MP for the Southern or Henley Division of Oxfordshire. He was created a baronet as Sir Robert Hodge of Wyfold Court in July 1902 and later ennobled as Baron Wyfold in May 1919. Image: Hamptons International.

An ornamental carriage entrance with timber doors leads the way into a communal reception hall. The inner hall, with chequerboard floor tiles and marble pillars is said to be a copy of a similar corridor found at the House of Commons. Resplendent with period grandeur the feeling is enhanced by an impressive 43 ft high grand stair case, crafted in teak with beautiful stained glass windows featuring past Kings and Queens of England.

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After his wife died in 1929, Robert Hodge had little use for such a large house and, in 1932, he sold it to the Government who converted it for medical use as Borocourt Hospital. The hospital closed in 1993. Image: Hamptons International.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

The apartment is arranged over three floors. Access to the apartment is from the ground floor where the entrance hall provides access to principle reception rooms and kitchen/breakfast room all of which have breath-taking views over formal gardens and surrounding countryside.

There is much to be admired in the drawing room; the 20 ft high ceiling, ornately decorated with painted plaster mouldings, an outstanding carved timber fireplace housing a wood-burning stove and full height windows providing wonderful views and a door to a private area of garden.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

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Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire. Image: Hamptons International.

GILFORD CASTLE

A Victorian Scots Baronial-style ‘castle’ dating back to 1865, on sale for the first time in more than 100 years.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

An asking price of £2.3 million is being asked by Savills for the Gilford Castle Estate in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. It is a residential, agricultural and sporting estate with amenities extending to about 207 acres in total. It is for sale as a whole or in five lots. The historic, Category B1 listed castle occupies a commanding position within the heart of the estate and dates from circa 1865. It is constructed in the Scottish baronial style and includes well-proportioned principal accommodation, plus two flats. Adjoining the castle is an extensive range of traditional outbuildings, including a former farm yard, sawmill and kennels.

The house is built of Portland stone and Scrabo sandstone, multi-gabled, with a slate roof. Its most striking feature is the portico, which is topped in the same way as its bay windows with two stone urns resting on the two corners.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Postcards Ireland.

The present castle superseded another dwelling dating from the seventeenth century. In 1635, John Magill, a Scottish settler, acquired land around the present-day village of Gilford from the Magennis clan.

John Magill strengthened his position locally and the village began to develop around ‘Magill’s Ford’, from which the name of Gilford was derived.

The Magills based themselves at Gill Hall near Dromore, but a branch of the family – the Johnstons – resided in Gilford and developed the village. The will of Sir John Johnston Magill had left his estates to the heirs of his two sisters, Mary and Susanna. Gill Hall went to Mary, and Gilford passed to Susanna, who married her first cousin Richard Johnston of Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. On coming to the property, the Johnstons built the original Gilford Castle and the property remained in the male line of Richard Johnston for five generations. The original castle is believed to have been built by the Johnston family close to the present-day bridge (situated at the north-west of the estate) which passes over the River Bann.

His great grandson, also Richard, was a pioneer of free-range pig farming. He succeeded to the family estate in 1758 and commenced pig farming in 1760. In those days pigs were more valuable than cows, Ireland had a good export of corned and salted pork.

He also took a prominent part on the landlord side in the Hearts of Steel men.  In 1772, the castle was the scene of an attack by the disaffected group, who were suffering from failure of the harvest and a rise in taxation. Richard just escaped with his life, but the castle was sacked and set on fire.  Richard was made a baronet, but died a bachelor in the 1840s, his property divided between his two sisters.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

In the 1860s, the Gilford portion granted to one of the sisters, Catherine,  was purchased by Benjamin Dickson, who at that time was a partner in the prosperous local linen thread company of Dunbar McMaster.

As well as being a successful businessman, Dickson was also a keen farmer, keeping a celebrated herd of shorthorn cattle and an accomplished horse breeder.

When Dickson bought Gilford Castle, the old property had fallen into decay, and he engaged the fashionable architect William Spence, based in Glasgow, to design the present-day mansion on a new site in the Scottish Baronial style, creating a majestic grouping of river, park and house.  A year later, Spence also built nearby Elmfield House for Benjamin Dickson’s brother James.

The cost to build Gilford Castle was reported to be £42,000, but Dickson never lived here, with Percy Jocelyn McMaster, younger brother of Hugh Dunbar McMaster (proprietor of Gilford Mill), believed to be the first occupant, leasing the house between 1887 and 1891.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

After Dickson’s death in 1894, the property passed to his trustees and was bought for £15,000 by Miss Katherine Carleton, a spinster, in 1902, and subsequently sold in 1914 to James F. Wright. It has remained in the Wright family’s ownership ever since.

the linen houses of the bann valley - the story of their families

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

James Wright was the son of a mill owner from Ballinode, Co. Monaghan who had become a successful Hong Kong and Manila merchant and stockbroker. His wife, Mary Menary, was the niece of Sir Thomas Jackson, third Chief Manager of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (now known as HSBC), who was responsible for financing the development of Colonial Hong Kong under the first large scale bank.

James and Mary furnished their Gilford home with memories of Manila and Hong Kong, also furnishing it with keepsakes and memories of the histories of their families, both of which had roots in Ireland going back at least 400 years.

A news account at the time of James Wright’s marriage said he had service in South Africa, where he was badly wounded, but had “forged his sword into a pruning hook”.  In his decades at Gilford, it seems that James got his wish. On his death certificate, his profession was recorded as farmer.

In 2004, the Belfast Telegraph reported that GML Estates agreed to buy the site and convert the mill into a 132-bed luxury hotel and the grounds into a golf course in what was expected to be a £30 million “world class resort”.

Open winner Darren Clarke was called on board to realise the golfing aspect of the site, but the project never materialised.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

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Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Image: Savills.

FLASS HOUSE

“Graffiti has been daubed over the walls, and beer cans and broken bottles are strewn across the floors along with discarded sleeping bags.” A country house built on the proceeds of opium and ruined by cannabis.

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Flass House is a Grade II* listed detached mansion, believed to comprise in the region of twenty bedrooms, set in extensive grounds. Image: Harman Healy.

Flass, also called Flass House, is a large Grade II* listed country house near the village of Maulds Meaburn in Cumbria. At last, and not before time, it is going to be auctioned by Harman Healy with a guide price of just £460,000+ on 30 January.

Someone is going to get a bargain, considering this was marketed for £1.5 million in 2014. Someone is also going to get a shock. There are no interior images from the auctioneers, probably deliberate, as it’s now described as “being in an utterly wrecked, vandalised condition.”

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Flass House is in a derelict condition and has been vandalised. The new owner will need to embark on a costly programme of renovation. Image: Harman Healy.

Flass House was rebuilt in 1851 for wealthy merchant brothers and tea and opium magnets Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent, possibly incorporating parts of an 18th century house. No expense was spared in the house, with door handles fashioned out of ivory and balustrades made out of French wrought iron. It was designed by architects Mr Grey and later by Mr G. Mair and included furnishings by Gillows of Lancaster and London.

Lancelot Dent, the senior partner of Dent & Co, headquartered in Canton, had taken over the business when his older brother Thomas departed in 1831. The company had established trade with China, and  after the break up of the East India Company, rendered their services to the British Government during the first Chinese War.

Afterwards, branch houses were established at all the open ports, and it was the first company to run a line of steamers from Calcutta to Hong Kong. Lancelot held a powerful hold over some agency houses buying opium from the Calcutta auction, including Carr, Tagore and Company, managed by Bengali merchant Dwarkanath Tagore. He died at Cheltenham in 1853.  His younger brother, Wilkinson Dent, joined the firm in 1827 and twenty years later, on the death of their sister in 1847,  both had succeeded to the Flass estate.

The unmarried brothers, Lancelot and Wilkinson, both retired to Flass Park. The business passed to their nephews, John Dent and Alfred (later Sir Alfred) Dent, while the Flass estate passed to another nephew, Thomas Dent.

Flass remained in the Dent family until 1973, when it was sold to banker, historian and writer Frank Welsh for £17,000. It was purchased from Welsh in 1982 for £115,000 by the retired solicitor Malcolm Whiteside, who ran the property as a care home with his wife, Mary. A change in fire legislation meant that this was no longer possible, and the house was put up for sale again; Whiteside still owned the house in the late 1990s, when it was put up for sale for around £750,000.

It was sold in 2000 to singer-songwriter Christine Holmes and her husband Paul Davies who ran it as a performing arts school.

After the couple divorced, Davies took control of the mansion and became implicated with a gang of drug dealers in 2011. Davies and his five cohorts were able to grow cannabis with a street value of £5.26 million undetected until a neighbour became suspicious. He was jailed for his role in the crime for three years and eight months in September 2015.

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Flass House was built in Italianate style. It is built in limestone that is partly rendered, and all is whitewashed; the roofs are slated. The house has an asymmetrical plan, and is in two storeys with attics. There is a string course between the storeys. Image: Harman Healy.

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Flass House was rebuilt in the mid-19th century, apparently incorporating elements of a previous house which likely dated to the 18th century, likely a yeoman farmer’s home. Image: Harman Healy.

Christine Holmes subsequently took back control of Flass House and after trying and failing to sell the house for £1.5 million, spent £200,000 on renovations to put right the damage done by the drug operation.

Since then it has been a magnet for urban explorers. Said Christine Holmes;- “I think people have been staying in the building and have even been there hiding while I’ve been there. I’m petrified. These are evil people who are breaking into my home. I think it’s becoming a game to them. They are breaking in every day.”

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Flass House was built for Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent, though construction may have been started by their sister. The Dent brothers were the wealthy owners of Dent & Co., a company trading tea and opium. The process was initially overseen by an architect named Mr Gray, but, around 1854, a Mr G. Mair took over. Image: Harman Healy.

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In 1895, Charles Lancelot Dent, the 20-year-old epileptic son of Mr Thomas Dent (Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent’s nephew), went outside after breakfast and was later found dead in mud near the house. Image: Harman Healy.

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Flass remained in the hands of the Dent family until Sir Robert Dent and Lady Elspeth Dent sold it to the historian Frank Welsh for £17,000 in 1973. Robert Dent, shortly before selling the house, broke into an attic he had not visited. There, he found a number of items, including 16th-century statuettes from the Mughal Empire left behind by his ancestors. These were subsequently sold for £220,000. Image: Harman Healy.

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Flass House’s recent history has been rather unsavoury. An owner was jailed for growing cannabis in ten of the rooms. Since then, it has been repeatedly targeted by ‘urban explorers’. Image: Visit Cumbria.