Property gallery: Northumberland barn conversion is full of history

This spacious barn conversion is steeped in history and is situated close to a Roman road near Rothbury


A beautiful barn conversion in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside, and embedded in the rural community surrounding it, has been the cherished home of Helen and Ralph Holmes for the past quarter of a century.

A Roman road runs close to North Sharperton Steads and there is a legionaries’ camp on a hill nearby. Ralph’s family had owned the adjacent North Sharperton Farm for two generations and when he sold it, the couple kept an acreage, four or five acres of which will be sold with the property.

Helen said: “We’ve lived here for 25 years and converted it from farm buildings. It was a Georgian farm steading, in fact it might even be older than that.”

The conversion has been done to a high standard, with double glazing throughout and excellent levels of insulation, ideal for combating the Northumbrian winters – although the house is well protected from the elements, as Ralph explained.

“These were the farm buildings attached to North Sharperton Farm,” he said. “The farmhouse was built in the1760s. It’s right on the roadside, there was a farm track down the side, presumably so the lady of the house could get into her horse and carriage without getting her crinolines muddy.

The home of Ralph and Helen Holmes in Sharperton, Northumberland
The home of Ralph and Helen Holmes in Sharperton, Northumberland

“Meanwhile, the conversion we’ve done is set about 20-25ft below the farmhouse into the side of the slightly sloping ground which gives shelter to the cattle in winter and faces south.

“This shows how the priority in those days was shelter for the cattle in the winter and convenience for the lady of the farmhouse not getting mud on her boots when she got into the carriage.

“It’s extremely sheltered because of being L-shaped and built into the hill, all the wind and the weather goes over the top. There are lots of trees around and it’s full of character.”

The house is very spacious, with two-storey accommodation set on an L-shaped footprint. This is a reflection of its past with a granary set above a feeding barn for cattle in a courtyard style. A particular feature is what were the feeding arches, now glassed in.

Ralph said: “We have a long lounge which is below what was the granary, it’s over 65ft long, with two lovely Northumbrian feeding arches, just wide enough to back a horse and cart into in olden times and muck it out.

The home of Ralph and Helen Holmes in Sharperton, Northumberland
The home of Ralph and Helen Holmes in Sharperton, Northumberland

“You dropped the hay and the feeding stuff from the granary to the cattle down below, the muck would build up during the winter-time and the arches were so you could back a horse and cart in and muck them out in the summer. The arches are about 7.2m wide with a door in the middle and all glazed, you can walk out on to the patio. This is out on one leg, the other leg includes the hall, dining room, kitchen and sitting room which is the long bit of the L the other way.”

Other features of the property include Georgian fireplaces and original doors downstairs, walls up to three feet wide and a kitchen which is 24ft square. Upstairs is a large en suite master bedroom, four further bedrooms and two bathrooms, all with Victorian doors. There is an attached workshop and garage/store with courtyard parking and large low-maintenence gardens with trees, hedges and grass.

Raph and Helen, who are building their new home nearby, have brought up four sons in the home and admit it will be a big wrench to leave.

Ralph said: “It’s in a fantastic situation and overlooks the River Coquet, it’s idyllic. It’s ideal for someone who wants to pursue country pursuits, we have fishing rights on the Coquet and there is first-class shooting around here and fishing.”

  • North Sharperton Steads, Sharperton, near Rothbury, Northumberland, is for sale at £640,000 through Turvey Westgarth, tel: 01669 621312.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer