Property gallery: Former school near Hamsterley Mill is living history

Set in a rural location, this former Victorian School retains many original features and is within easy reach of Durham, Newcastle, and Hexham

This former Victorian School has been home to the Parkinson family for the past 13 years.

With light, airy rooms and stunning original features, the conversion has provided an idyllic environment in which Victoria and Steve have raised their two children. The family home, one of five properties within a small development, benefits from a rural location with far reaching views.

Impressed with the size of the property and its peaceful location, the couple bought the showhome in 2002.

Victoria, a teaching assistant, said: “We bought it because of the size and location. The school was built around 1891 from sandstone which came from a local quarry.

“The house has a lot of character and all the rooms are really big as they used to be classrooms.”

The school closed in 1999 and the sympathetic conversion ensured that its period features were retained.

“The original school flooring runs from the back lounge into the kitchen. There are also floor-to-ceiling windows and original beam work upstairs,” said Victoria. “One of the main features I like are the huge stone back steps. They are all worn away and I think of all the little feet that have come and gone.

The kitchen in the Parkinson family home in High Westwood
The kitchen in the Parkinson family home in High Westwood

“Lots of people in the village used to go to the school. We’ve even had visits from people in their 90s, who told us all about when they were pupils at the school. It’s a real living history.”

The property includes a hallway with tiled floor, leading to the sitting room with limestone fireplace. French doors lead to a terrace. The second reception room provides versatile family space, while the breakfasting kitchen includes a good-sized dining area.

Victoria said: “I like the fact that the house is so light. We have massive windows and French doors throughout. I also love the kitchen. We have lots of family gatherings here as we have so much space.”

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, all of which include the original beams. The master bedroom has an en suite bedroom and there is also a family bathroom with separate shower cubicle. The property has an attractive landscaped garden at the front, and an enclosed courtyard at the back with stunning views. There is also a double garage set away from the main house.

“The courtyard is a real sun trap. We get a beautiful view from the front right down the valley and you can even see St James’ Park,” said Victoria.

The location of the property is a great selling point.

The Parkinson family at their home in High Westwood near Hamsterley Mill
The Parkinson family at their home in High Westwood near Hamsterley Mill

Victoria said: “It’s such a great location. We’re in the heart of the countryside with all of the dog walks on the doorstep and horses trotting past. But you’re also so close to towns and cities. Ebchester in just two minutes down the hill and then we’re 20 minutes from Durham, Newcastle, and Hexham.”

The house has provided a safe space for the couple’s children Eve, 14, and Alfie, 11, to grow. And with access to their very school playing field, leaving the property is certain to be a wrench.

“It’s really safe as the kids have access to the old school playing field. All of the kids who live here play there and it was also great when they were little and learning to ride their bikes.

“We have a great community here and the neighbours are fantastic. We do so much together communally on the fields like fireworks parties and summer barbecues. I don’t think I’d get that anywhere else.”

The family are moving closer to Hexham where Victoria goes to work and the children attend school.

Victoria said: “If I could pick the house up and move it I would as we haven’t found anything like it.”

  • 3 Lonsdale Court, High Westwood, near Hamsterley Mill, Tyne & Wear, is for sale through Finest Properties at a guide price of £385,000, tel: 01434 622234.


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