Former Ampleforth College prep school Gilling Castle on the market for £3.75million for the second time after abandoned holiday camp plan

Grade I-listed North Yorkshire country house Gilling Castle is for sale for the second time in four years.

The trustees of Ampleforth Abbey have put the former Ampleforth College prep school back on the market with agents Savills for £3.75million - slightly more than the guide price when it was last offered in 2018, when no sale was agreed.

Once the seat of the Viscounts Fairfax, the Howardian Hills property was occupied by the College's junior school, St Martin's, from 1929 until it merged with the main site in 2018.

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Savills are now advertising it as having potential for conversion into a luxury hotel with its own nine-hole golf course.

Gilling Castle

In 2021, the Abbey announced plans to convert Gilling Castle into holiday accommodation and an activity camp.

They partnered with travel company Activate for the venture and began to take bookings, but the website was later taken offline after Ryedale Council opened a planning enforcement case and eventually ruled that the Abbey had not sought permission for a change of use for the site. The scheme was then discontinued.

Savills' listing for the 14th-century 10-bedroom property, which has 100 acres of grounds including the school's old sports facilities, states: "Gilling Castle is one of England's most treasured and historic buildings. Nestled in the Howardian Hills this iconic building is Grade l listed and is to be sold for the first time in nearly one hundred years. With origins going as far back as the 14th century it has been altered and remodelled over the many centuries, but remains an impressive structure with some magnificent and unique period features of national importance.

"The original core was significantly re-modelled by the Fairfax family who rebuilt the 14th century manor house. This work was believed to have been completed around 1585. The north and south wings were added at the beginning of the 18th century as part of a major extension. Lying to the north of the main house is an enclosed series of buildings, which would have originally been the stable complex and workers' cottages and, but now classrooms and dormitories.

The 14th-century house could become a hotel

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"The property has been occupied as a school since 1929 with the building adapted for that use over a number of years. Gilling Castle retains many architectural features which are scheduled in the listing as undoubtedly it is an important building, with the entrance hallway, dining room, long gallery and chapel of particular note. Gilling Castle itself is Grade I listed, the former stables and clock tower are Grade II listed, the stone gate piers are Grade II listed and in all sits in approximately 100 acres, formerly part of a large estate on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens for its special historic interest.

"Lying to the south and west of the gardens and playing fields lies a private nine-hole golf course within the curtilage of the property. There is a parking area and small clubhouse off Pottergate. The course is primarily a nine hole golf course with the facilities available to the Abbey and college as well as private members and paying guests. The area occupied by the golf course is subject to a lease from the Ampleforth Abbey trustees to the trustees of the Ampleforth College Golf Club. The golf course is let until August 2030 at a peppercorn rent.

"In all the property extends to just short of 100 acres and can be broken down to around 30 acres with Gilling Castle to include drive way, amenity woodland, castle, playing fields and gardens. The golf course, part of the avenue and the rookery add another 70 acres or thereabouts. The property is sold freehold by the Ampleforth Abbey trustees.

The sports facilities include pitches, tennis courts and a golf course currently leased to a club

"We understand that the property will be offered for sale with the benefit of vacant possession upon completion except for the golf course which is let until 2030.

"There are believed to be no public rights of way affecting the property with the exception of a footpath running from main street in the village and passing along the length of the eastern boundary of the rookery woodland.

"Gilling Castle would be suitable for conversion to a full service hotel, subject to the necessary consents. With conversion of the bedrooms, which were previously used as dormitories for the boarding school, there is also ample space for meeting and event space and food and beverage opportunities. There would also be opportunity to extend the building to offer other uses such as a spa and wedding suites. Externally there are tennis courts, a golf course and car parking."

A spokesman for the Ampleforth Abbey Trust said: " The Ampleforth Abbey Trust and the Ampleforth monastic community have taken the decision to sell Gilling Castle and have engaged Savills UK to manage the sale.

St Martin's pupils in the dining hall in 2007

"The Grade I-listed building has stood empty for nearly two years. Looking ahead, the Abbey Trust is focussed on the core mission of the monastery, and whilst it has explored a number of alternative uses for the castle it has not been possible to find a viable solution which contributes to this mission.

"Gilling Castle has long been known as the ‘hidden gem in the Ampleforth Valley’, and it is now the right time for a new owner to appreciate this wonderful building and for the castle to enter a new chapter in its history."