Living in a spectacular castle doesn't have to come with the headaches of owning a castle, as shown by these beautiful apartments at Thurland Castle, a grand pile wedged into the space between the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland.
Is it the fairytales we read as tiny children? The television programmes and films we watch in later years? Or, as we get to the age when we buy our own properties, the idea of swapping a cramped home for something with nearly endless space?
We’re talking, of course, about the love affair with castles. Clearly a little bit of all three factors come into play when analysing the seemingly endless romantic appeal of a good castle, whether it’s a crumbling medieval pile or a newer creation self-consciously apeing the style of the past.
No matter what, though, the appeal is only heightened when the price tag attached to a castle for sale lets us dream of swapping a relatively modest pad for, say, a place offering 17,000ft of faded glory, as in this article we ran a couple of weeks ago. Yet ‘bargain’ castles are, obviously, the greatest of money pits. When even English Heritage explain that they don’t have pockets deep enough to restore places they already own, those who buy a wreck need to go in with eyes open.
Is there an answer, for those who dream of castle life, but without the deep pockets needed? Well, the answer is ‘sort of’. Every so often a beautiful wing of a castle comes to the market, giving many of the benefits of castle life at a relatively realistic price, and without the headaches of shouldering all the bills single-handed.
It just so happens that two such places are on the market at the moment within the walls of Thurland Castle in Lancashire near Tunstall, just a few miles south of Kirby Lonsdale.
First up we’ll take a look at The Cromwell Wing, for sale through Davis & Bowring via OnTheMarket at £990,000.
This three-bedroom, 3,500sq ft home really hits the mark right from the start: ‘Make an entrance into the oak panelled hall with decorative tiled floor and be sure to look up to admire the decorative ceiling and leaded windows,’ write the agents. ‘There’s also a beautiful leaded and stained window and a heraldic carving above the door leading into the drawing room.’
There are two living rooms, one a drawing room roughly 32ft by 20ft, and a living/dining/kitchen of similar proportions. The kitchen area in the latter is beautifully done, and has an island with a gorgeously-finished wooden work surface. It’s a shame to think that one day it’ll be cluttered with old envelopes, shopping bags and the remains of last Sunday’s papers, like most kitchen islands are.
On the first floor there are three bedrooms, all-en suite and one with a walk-in wardrobe, as well as a home office.
The other apartment is called The Courtyard, on the market (also via Davis & Bowring via OnTheMarket) for just a smidgeon more at £995,000. And while both are part of the same redevelopment, this couldn’t have a more different feel. It’s a fair bit smaller at just under 3,000sq ft, yet has separate living room, sitting room and kitchen-diner, with a utility room off the latter.
There are five bedrooms marked on the floorplan, all en-suite, though one is listed as a bedroom/study — perhaps a better use of the space, since it’s accessed directly off the living room.
Even more of a difference than the layout comes in the style: instead of wood-panelled walls, there’s a lighter and more modern vibe, with leaded windows in a Rennie-Mackintosh-influence style giving pretty character. The master bedroom in particular is a beautiful space, opening onto its own private roof terrace (there’s another accessed from the living room).
But it’s the hexagonal Morning Room that is the true highlight, with wonderful views looking out over the lawns and the moat.
Both apartments have been beautifully refurbished, so while you won’t have the true castle experience of having endless rooms to call your own, you also won’t have the equally true castle experience of wind whistling through poorly-fitting windows and doorframes.
It’s a similar story with the grounds. While both apartments have their own private outdoor space, the main bulk of the 10 acres at Thurland Castle are owned communally. Each comes with a 999-year lease and a share of the freehold, and there’s a fairly reasonable-sounding maintenance charge (the charges were just over £1,300 in 2020).
If you want your own space, unfettered by neighbours, then not much more could get you a five-bedroom house with pool and 12 acres of your own nearby; but then again, if you bought a house like that then you wouldn’t be able to tell people that you lived in a castle. Decisions, decisions.
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Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.