Wycliffe Hall, the very picture of a grand Georgian country house, and has been treated to money-no-object restoration in the last few years, as Penny Churchill reports.
In the hamlet of Wycliffe, on the Co Durham/North Yorkshire border between Richmond and Barnard Castle, stands Grade II*-listed Wycliffe Hall. It’s in an idyllic woodland setting on the south bank of the River Tees — Wycliffe means ‘the cliff by the water’ — and has pretty much everything you could wish for in a country house.
There’s a rich history, a handsome Georgian profile, gardens designed by an RHS Chelsea gold medallist and has been lavishly refurbished inside and out by one of Britain’s top architects. It’s for sale via Savills at £6.95 million.
There has been a house here since medieval times but the Hall as it currently stands dates to the 1770s; it was acquired by the current owner, along with 49 acres of woods and parkland, in 2000. He immediately embarked on a massive restoration programme, appointing the architect Ptolemy Dean to oversee the refurbishment of the house and other buildings.
The gardens had equally lavish treatment: the person brought in to redesign them was Tom Stuart-Smith, a man who has won eight gold medals and three ‘best in show’ awards at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Wycliffe Hall sits comfortably in its parkland, with the dramatic banks of the River Tees acting as a natural boundary to the north. Approached from the south-west through formal gates, the house remains hidden from view before revealing itself in all its glory on arrival at the west front.
Internally, the building is designed to work on many levels, with the elegant formal entertaining rooms flowing off the central hall and the magnificent library on the mezzanine floor easily accessible from the entrance hall.
More than 19,000sq ft of living space is arranged over four floors, with the principal bedroom suite occupying much of the first floor.
In total, the house offers five reception rooms, eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a rod room and a variety of domestic offices, plus basement stores and cellars. Secondary buildings include a gate lodge, two cottages, stabling, barns and outbuildings.
Wycliffe Hall’s listing with Historic England suggests that this impeccably restored Georgian masterpiece was remodelled around a medieval core by the ornithologist and naturalist Marmaduke Tunstall III, who inherited the family estate in 1760.
Tunstall began to rebuild Wycliffe Hall in about 1773 and, by 1780, had added a handsome, large room at the back of the house to which he transferred his extensive private collection of natural-history and ethnographic items from around the world.
When he died in 1790 at the early age of 47, the estate passed to a cousin, Edward Sheldon, who sold the contents of the museum; the collection is now held by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. The Tunstall/Constable family remained at the house until the sale of the estate in 1935.
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