Get a taste of the Downton Abbey lifestyle with a home in a grand old house

For some years now, some of the nation’s most imposing country houses have been sub-divided into apartments and semi-detached properties, creating several homes from one. This means that almost anyone can get a taste of the Downton Abbey lifestyle in one of the nation’s most impressive historic homes – or rather, in a part of one.

By John Grainger
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 10:33 am
West Wing, Ingmanthorpe Hall, York Road, Wetherby - £1m with Rutley Clark, 01924 729292. PHOTO: McFade Photography.
West Wing, Ingmanthorpe Hall, York Road, Wetherby - £1m with Rutley Clark, 01924 729292. PHOTO: McFade Photography.

Some people don’t like to see grand old houses divided up and ‘democratised’, but conversion into flats is surely a small price to pay to save such fine buildings.

After all, a great many of them – perhaps as many as 4,000 – have already been lost over the last century or so, for various reasons, including high inheritance tax demands during the 20th century.

In 1955, one country house was demolished every two-and-a-half days, and considerably more of them have been lost in Yorkshire than in any other English county.

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Apt 1 Spofforth Hall, Nickols Lane, Spofforth - offers over £279,950 with Maxwell Hodgson, 01937 589388.

Those that remain have been put to a variety of uses, and multiple residency is just one of them. Some buyers simply want a beautifully built home with a tranquil view. Others buy into the romance: sweeping staircases, drinks on the terrace, getting lost in the east wing.

So, for readers addicted to the crunch of tyres on gravel drives, the following three properties have all been developed from large country houses, and all are currently on the market.

The West Wing forms part of the conversion of Ingmanthorpe Hall near Wetherby. Built in 1833, it was sold in the 1930s, became a boarding school in the 1960s, and was divided into smaller properties in more recent years.

Overlooking rolling paddocks and backing onto woodland, this part of the development has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen, snug, and – the pièce de résistance – a huge living room and dining area occupying the former ballroom, whose ceilings are almost 20 feet high. It’s so impressive, it was even used as a filming location for TV comedy drama The Darling Buds of May. It’s not all Georgian chic, though – there’s Cat5 wiring for superfast broadband and an integrated Bose speaker system in the entertaining rooms.

Apt 3 Highfield House, Hemsworth Walk, Ripon - £295,000 with Myrings, 01423 566400.

Outside, the garden is sheltered and private and a wine cellar is accessed via steps in the courtyard.

The Grade II-listed Highfield House was once a Victorian gentleman’s residence in the grounds of the former Ripon College, but has been divided into 11 luxury apartments. On the ground floor, Apartment 3 is accessed via a side entrance with secure video entry, and has two bedrooms, a shower room with underfloor heating, and open-plan kitchen living room.

The property has two acres of communal gardens and two allocated parking spaces. There is also lockable communal storage in the basement.

Finally, in five acres of parkland between Harrogate and Wetherby, Spofforth Hall was once a Cheshire Home, but has now been split into flats. Apartment 1 occupies part of the ground floor and has two bedrooms, a bathroom and open-plan dining kitchen and living room, as well as two parking bays.