Ask visitors what they like best about Harrogate and one of the top five – or maybe top three – answers will always be the Stray.
These 200 acres of open space curving around the town centre are often wrongly referred to by estate agents as “parkland”, but have actually been common land from time immemorial.
This status was enshrined in law in 1778 when the Award of the Commissioners for the enclosures of the Forest of Knaresborough stated: “The said two hundred acres of land shall forever hereafter remain open and unenclosed and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free access at all times…”.
The Stray continues to be protected by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, and by the 78-year-old Stray Defence Association, which helped to draw the Act up.
Other strays exist in Redcar and York, which has four of them, but arguably none of these others is as central to the the character of their setting as Harrogate’s.
Such a beautiful wide open space makes for an enviable outlook, and homes with Stray views have long been in high demand. The following three houses all command views of different parts of the town’s “green lung”.
Of the three, 7 West Park is closest to the hub of the action, being situated practically in the town centre. One of the few remaining undivided Victorian townhouses on its row, it still has its high cornice ceilings and ornate marble fireplaces, even though it has been thoroughly modernised – with integrated sound system, wi-fi and underfloor heating – and extensively remodelled, not least on the ground floor, where its interior walls have been removed to create a whopping 54ft-long living kitchen. All four bedrooms have en suites, and the master suite even has a floor all to itself. On the lower ground floor there’s an office, gym with steam room, shower, dining room and utility room and outside there is a patio, integral double garage, cobbled off-street parking and electric gates. With 4,700 sq ft of space over five floors, little wonder there’s also the ultimate leg-saver connecting it all: a lift.
On the opposite side of the Stray, 12 Park Parade is a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse with a self-contained one-bedroom garden flat on the lower ground floor. In the main body of the house there are four bedrooms – the large master suite even has a balcony overlooking the Stray – two bathrooms and laundry room, as well as kitchen and three reception rooms. To the rear there is a walled courtyard garden and through a side archway a driveway leads to a two-storey garage with loft space above.
Finally, at the far eastern end of the Stray, Granby House is a rare double-fronted, semi-detached house that has retained a great deal of its original, early 19th-century character. In typically Georgian style, it has a square room arrangement, its four quarters – a kitchen plus three reception rooms – leading off a central hallway; there is also a utility room and boot room in a rear extension. Upstairs, there are also four bedrooms, but with three bathrooms to disrupt the symmetry. To the front there’s an enclosed garden, and to the rear, a stone-flagged courtyard, garden, summerhouse and parking.
12 Park Parade, Harrogate – £795,000 with Myrings, 01423 566400.
Granby Hse, Granby Rd, H’gate – £895,000 with Knight Frank, 01423 530088.
7 West Park, Harrogate – £1.85m with Myrings, 01423 566400.