Compact and characterful: three country cottages for sale
Could any other type of property provide such a sense of security as the cottage?
Low, beamy and modestly-sized, cottages – whether thatched in the South or slate-roofed in the North – tend to have been built as homes, rather than as status symbols. They connote security, peace, continuity and a kind of cosiness that excludes all worldly cares.
Yet it wasn’t always so. In medieval England, a “cottage” was the holding of a “cottar”, who was the lowest kind of peasant – ranking below serfs and villeins but above slaves.
In spite of this humble status, the cottar owned a modest house – his cottage – as well as a garden and enough land to feed a family, which was usually between one and five acres.
But following the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, which stripped cottagers of their traditional rights and rendered them landless agricultural labourers, cottages became mere houses – small and not very desirable.
Then, in the 20th century, they enjoyed a surge in popularity as their age, character and rural location was seen to contrast favourably with the modern, high-density homes that had been built for the working classes in the towns and cities of industrialised England. Suddenly, the cottage became representative of the rural idyll.
Nowadays, cottages can exhibit many different styles, and ironically, some are even old workers’ dwellings built during the Industrial Revolution.
The most highly sought-after cottages are those that qualify for chocolate box’ status. If it’s old and fairly symmetrical, has a small cottage garden at the front, and foliage (honeysuckle, ivy, rose or wisteria) climbing up its face, then it’s a candidate.
Not all of the following three properties tick all those boxes, but they are all lovely in their own ways, and are all currently on the market.
The Firs is a double-fronted period cottage on one of the magnesian limestone terraces that give Burton Leonard (between Harrogate and Ripon) so much of its character. It has three bedrooms, house bathroom, entrance hall, sitting room, kitchen and dining area, plus utility room and snug.
There’s also a light and airy attic space giving plenty of extra room, plus gardens and stunning views.
The Old Cottage in Brafferton, near Boroughbridge, dates back to the 19th century and has many original features, including exposed timber floors and stripped pine doors.
Even so, it has been remodelled and improved by the present owners, using local craftsmen, andnow has has three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, utility room, store and two reception rooms.
To the rear are an attached garage, timber-clad party barn with bi-folding doors opening onto a covered terrace, a range of outbuildings and south-facing gardens.
Finally, Sunnyside Cottage is a detached property on the western edge of Great Ouseburn. Built in the brick-and-pantile style so typical of the Vale of York, it has three bedrooms, a bathroom, open-plan dining kitchen and sitting room.
Outside, there’s a garden and off-street parking to the front, and to the rear, a courtyard garden with two brick-built storage sheds.