By John Grainger, Property editor
Living above the shop has long been seen as a commercially canny thing to do, for reasons of convenience, security and – if you have a creative accountant – tax.
But living in the shop could be just as economically wise over the long term.
That’s because as ever more villages succumb to the effects of de-population – or rather re-population – due to urbanisation, an increasing number of village shops are closing down and being turned into beautiful homes.
Almost invariably, they are properties with character – not just because they tend to be old, but also because they have a back-story to feed the imagination.
After all, there’s no joy in saying “My home used to be... a home.” But “My home used to be a sweet shop”? That’s altogether different.
And because former shops have character and are often in pretty villages, they tend to be landmark buildings: highly desirable and likely to hold their value.
The following four properties are all exemplars of the changing nature of our towns and villages, as they all used to be something else.
They are also all currently for sale in our area.
London House in Aberford is a prime example of the genre. Believed to have been built in the late 18th century, it was, according to agent Hunters, the village shop and was the hub of the community.
It has retained its original Georgian frontage, along with stone-flagged floors, exposed timber-work and beamed ceilings, but has been modernised by the current owners and turned into a five-bedroom family home with cellar.
Outside, access to the driveway is via an old archway, and there is also a courtyard, single garage and gardens beyond – including a 100-foot-long walled cottage garden with fruit trees and vine.
In the centre of Summerbridge, the Old Boot Store is a picturesque double-fronted property with storm porch of stone and a veil of wisteria.
The semi-detached cottage has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, and despite being on the village’s main street, it also has a beautiful enclosed garden backing onto fields and woodland.
It is also very convenient for the primary school, which is just across the road.
In Grantley, the Old Post Office is a stone-built detached cottage that could have two, three or four bedrooms, depending on the buyer’s needs. There is also an attic room that may be convertible.
Outside, there is an attached stone-built garage and store, as well as pretty cottage gardens on three sides.
Finally, the Old Sweet Shop in Boroughbridge is a dignified-looking double-fronted grade II-listed townhouse within easy walking distance of the town centre.
Gobstoppers stopped being sold here about a generation ago, and it is now a very welcoming six-bedroom family home.
Outside, there is off-street parking to the front, and good-sized garden to the back, walled on two sides and leading down to the River Tutt.
There is a range of brick-and-pantile outbuildings, including a former wash-house, two stores and a gardener’s WC.