Not many can claim to live on a country estate, however Edward and Zoe Frais have enjoyed 19 blissful years living in the shadow of historic Callaly Castle in Alnwick.
Standing on an elevated site in the grounds of the castle, the couple bought their unusual cottage after falling in love with the wonderful views. Built incorporating the original 300-year-old kitchen garden wall, the property is one of just three cottages built in the late 1980s when the castle was converted into luxury apartments and houses.
Edward said: "We came to Callaly Castle to look at a different property but decided it wasn't for us. Then we drove up here, walked to the top of the garden and saw the wonderful views of the castle. It had such a wow factor. When we discovered they were to build cottages here, we decided to buy on the spot. The best feature of the property is actually living on the estate. There's a huge mix of people here, many of whom don't live here all the time. Some days you don't see anyone and it's like having your very own country estate."
Built on the site of the original potting shed, the property offers a real mix of old and new. Despite its modern accommodation, the cottage oozes traditional charm and includes Victorian fireplaces and five feet thick walls. The couple, both now retired, incorporated a conservatory into the original building of the house, and have re-modelled it in more recent years to suit their changing needs. To cater for frequent visits from their six grandchildren, Edward and Zoe recently adapted the accommodation to include a large farmhouse kitchen. This room features stunning views of the castle, Shaker-style units and brick chimney breast housing a stove.
Zoe said: "The farmhouse kitchen is my favourite room in the house. We spend a lot of time there. It has a wood burning stove and it's very cosy, especially during cold snaps like this week when we had four inches of snow."
Edward also loves the kitchen: "It's a fantastic space and the heart of the house. The wood burning stove makes it very cosy, and we spend lots of time here as a family eating and watching TV."
There is a lounge with castle views and Victorian cast iron fireplace, as well as the conservatory with French windows leading to a patio area. There is also a spacious master bedroom, bathroom and second bedroom.
Edward said: "The cottage is particularly low maintenance, and is modern yet in a traditional design and period setting. Because it is built into the garden wall, the walls are five feet thick in places. It has a great ambience and a lot of character. It's also in a great location. We are just a 10 minute drive from Rothbury and 15 minutes' from Alnwick. We also have full-time neighbours on either side which means the security is very good."
Zoe said: "The house would appeal to lots of buyers including professional couples, those looking for a tranquil location in which to retire, or even those looking for a holiday home. There's not a huge amount of space, but we managed to seat 24 people for dinner two weeks ago."
The cottage has its own private garden of around one third of an acre, as well as a share in the 30+ acres of grounds which surround the castle. There is a charge of around £20 a week to cover gardeners and maintenance of the grounds. The grounds also supply wood for fires and fruit trees for the residents' use.
According to Zoe, the best selling points of the cottage are the fantastic views over the castle and Cheviot hills.
She said: "It's fabulous. We will be desperately sad to leave the place. We are staying in Northumberland but looking for a bigger property with an extra bedroom to accommodate the family."
2 Walled Garden Cottages is for sale through George F White, for offers in the region of £335,000, tel: (01665) 603581.