Selling Harrogate on the basis of its more unusual features can be a hit-and-miss affair. After all, not all of them are particularly attractive – have you tried the sulphur water?
You’re on much safer ground with the Stray, though.
These 200 acres of open space curving around the town centre are sometimes wrongly referred to 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 is to the town.
Such a beautiful wide open space makes for an enviable outlook, and homes with Stray views have long been in high demand.
The following four properties all command fantastic views of different parts of the town’s “green lung”.
Whitfield House, at 10 York Place (above, right), is a large, grade II-listed townhouse with spacious, high-ceilinged accommodation over five floors.
The property is currently split between office space on the ground and lower ground floors and living space on the upper floors. This means the property offers at least two options: either keep the current arrangement, or to re-configure and update it to create a truly stunning private family home.
Whatever the buyer does, they’ll have great views across the Stray towards Cherry Tree Walk and Tewit Well.
Further east towards Christ Church, Clematis House in Church Square is an end townhouse built just 12 years ago.
With four floors of accommodation, it has three bedrooms, a split-level living room and a feature balcony off the living kitchen. Outside, it shares an enclosed rear courtyard and has a single garage and front forecourt with lawned garden which belongs to Christ Church Stray.
At the other end of the Stray, West Park House, at 12 West Park, is a beautiful two-bedroom townhouse with a two-bedroom self-contained flat on the top floor.
Behind its ornate stone exterior, it retains many of its original features, including period fireplaces, exposed stone work, panelled walls, leaded arched windows and ceiling cornices, as well as commanding enviable views across the road to West Park Stray.
Downstairs, it has a rear entrance to a large garage and cellars beneath.
On the opposite side of West Park Stray is Beech Grove Court, a six-storey block of luxury apartments with a resident caretaker .
On the second floor, number 17 is a three-bedroom flat with lift access and its own single garage at the rear of the building.
It has a dining room, lounge, bathroom and shower room, but its main attraction, of course, is the outlook from its balcony: an uncommonly good view of the town’s common land.