Built around 1904 for the Fenwick family, relatives of the department store dynasty, it was built to make the most of the natural light.
Richard said: “The Fenwicks were living at that stage in the manor house at nearby Brinkburn Priory, and I think our house was built as a winter house because it was a bit cold and damp down at the priory in the winter.
“This house was built to really capture all the sun. The rooms that you live in are on the south or west, there are no lived-in rooms along the north, they’re all now bathrooms and storage. It’s one of the most beautifully sunny houses we’ve ever lived in.”
An entrance porch overlooking the gardens leads to a reception hall and on to the main reception rooms, which include sitting room, drawing room and library. The property is set over three storeys and relics of its past as an Edwardian family home include the former servants’ hall, second staircase, strong room, lift and butler’s pantry.
There are six bedrooms, three bathrooms, one en suite, and a steam room. The top floor has the potential for conversion to a self-contained flat, in addition to a cottage in the 10-acre grounds where the couple have created a water garden and built a summer house and treehouse.
There are also sizeable barns and a paddock. The gardens open into a river which borders the Coquet and Priorsgate House has fishing rights for a stretch, with salmon, trout and sea trout swimming by.
Richard said: “The house had been a retirement home for 20 years and we had builders in for well over six months while we converted it back to a private house – there was quite a significant amount of work.
“The Arts and Crafts details still remain as the conversion for the old folks’ home had been done superbly. The original door handles were taken off but put into storage. We were terribly lucky. They’re all back on and where possible we’ve gone out and bought coat hooks and light fittings in the style of the period.”
The bespoke stair carpet echoes the detailing on the banisters and was made by Durham Carpets, said Richard: “It’s absolutely wonderful. The reception rooms have a lovely feature that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
“Instead of a separate cornice and picture rail the cornice doubles up as a picture rail which is a feature we really use.”
Richard and Rosalind will be moving to Rothbury and undertaking a new-build with the expert help of their architect daughter Helen. Their other daughter Diana lives in London.
Richard, a former engineer and now non-executive director with a range of businesses, said: “In the new house we’re going to do a similar thing somehow with the picture rail and cornices. We’re taking all sorts of design ideas from this house and building them into the new house – there have been so many features here that we have enjoyed so much.”
“It’s in a beautiful situation and it’s a really substantially-built house. One of the things that has always attracted us to houses built between about 1880 and 1910 is that they had learned from the mistakes of the Victorian era, they were very well-built, very solidly built, timber was properly matured and dried and really good quality.
“I think in many ways that period was one of the peaks in English housebuilding quality. Our real challenge is to make sure that the house we build in Rothbury is still going to be around in 100 years’ time.”
- Priorsgate House, Brinkburn, near Longframlington, Northumberland, is for sale at £1.15m through Strutt and Parker, tel: 01670 516123.