By John Grainger, Property editor
In the property world, age is often very a good thing.
Old properties are usually built from local materials, so they tend to blend comfortably into their surroundings.
They’re also solid enough to have withstood the rigours of time and have been mellowed by centuries of sun, wind, frost and rain.
They have a degree of character that new properties struggle to match, because it comes from a sense of timelessness.
It can also be fascinating to imagine what a house has seen – who lived there and what happened in it.
The population of England didn’t exceed 3 million when any of this week’s featured properties were built; imagine how much slower and more peaceful – yet harder – life was back then.
In short, properties, perhaps like people, become more interesting with experience.
The following four properties were all built more than 400 years ago – one of them more than 800 years ago – and all are for sale in our area.
Lollybogs is a spacious detached house dating from the 16th century. It has five bedrooms, three reception room and beautiful views over lower Nidderdale.
Outside, there is an attached double garage, which is currently used as a gymnasium and could be converted, as well as a separate annexe that has garaging for up to eight cars and accommodation including a garden room, kitchen and studio with living space above and a separate workshop.
The house is set in mature wooded grounds and a gateway in the stone wall at the bottom of the garden leads to about four acres of meadow, with a stone-built store housing the fuel and water system.
A few miles north, Cruck Barn dates from around 1560 and is believed to be the oldest house in Fearby. Whether it is or not, it must surely be the most atmospheric.
Cruck barns are built using an ancient construction method that relies on massive timber A-frames, or crucks, to support the roof.
This magnificent grade II-listed example has retained its full height inside, as well as its exposed stone walls, even though it’s been converted into a two-bedroom house by the current owners. There is some work yet to do, but it’s mostly cosmetic.
Shambles is even older. The stone-built cottage was built in the late 15th century in the lee of a hill at North Rigton.
It’s full of period features, such as beams, stone mullion windows, exposed brickwork and an inglenook fireplace.
Outside, the views across the Wharfe valley towards Harewood are stunning.
Finally, College House in Masham is the oldest of the lot, dating, amazingly, to the 12th century.
It used to be the manor hall of the church’s holdings in the area, which meant it was a very important place. In the 13th century, it was raised to two storeys, probably to accommodate a courtroom on the upper floor.
At the Reformation, Masham church and its lands were granted by Henry VIII to Trinity College Cambridge – hence the house’s name.
The current owners have restored the four-bedroom house, taking great care to retain its surviving original features, to (re-)create one of Masham’s most exceptional townhouses.