It took two years to convert two historic barns into a family home with an annexe but Loraine and Jeremy Ashcroft knew it would be well worth the wait. The rural location in Mewith, just a mile from the village of Clapham, near Settle, is sublime. There are breathtaking views over the Three Peaks and the Lake District and Wildman’s Barn, as the conversion is known, offers complete privacy.
It is tucked away down a private track that leads over a bridged stream and onto the property’s three-and-a half acre plot, which is surrounded by glorious Dales countryside.
“We bought the old barns in 1998. We lived in a cottage nearby and after having our two children, we had completely run out of space and needed to move to somewhere bigger,” says Loraine.
“It took time to do the conversion but we wanted to make sure it was right.”
Both Loraine and Jeremy are creatives with a keen eye for detail – she is a jewellery designer and maker and he is a journalist and illustrator – and their input into the design of the property was considerable.
The thought and attention they gave to how their 2,540 sq ft home would work has ensured that the rooms flow, while large areas of glazing make the most of the views.
“We also made sure that it was really well-insulated so it would be as energy efficient as possible and we spent quite a lot of money on underfloor heating and on a reclaimed maple floor that we had kiln dried so it wouldn’t warp,” says Loraine.
The main entrance leads to a central hallway and a double-height, open-plan living space with large areas of glazing and ceilings interspersed with douglas beams.
There is a kitchen with free-standing units, a dining space and a sitting area. The latter has a log-burning stove, providing a focal point for the space. A separate utility room keeps the noise of the washing machine and dishwasher confined.
The unusual staircase, which includes two flights on each side of the wall, isn’t a design affectation. It is purely practical.
“A single staircase in the middle would have blocked the light from the large window at the rear, so now we have two choices when going upstairs, right or left. The children loved it when they were little, as they each had their own side,” says Loraine.
At the top of the stairs, there is a large, double-height landing with storage cupboards built into the apex of the roofline, plus four bedrooms, a dressing room and bathroom.
The adjoining smaller barn is a self-contained one-bedroom annexe, which brings a rental income from hikers, cyclists and holiday-makers.
Here, the living room has a log-burner and there is an interconnected study plus direct access to the gardens.
A mezzanine level houses an en-suite bedroom but it would easily work as a home office as the property has hyperfast fibre-optic broadband. The interiors in Wildman’s Barn are purposely “pared down”, which fits with the rustic simplicity of the former agricultural buildings.
The walls are in brilliant white and the woodwork is a mix of various off-whites by Farrow & Ball and Little Greene.
Colour comes from art work, including paintings. Some are old and others are new, like those from Tina Balmer, of Gallery 68 in Ulverston, and Annie Luke Turner, who specialises in ethereal abstracts.
The furniture is tasteful and timeless, thanks to design classics like the Saarinen table from Knoll.
They also invested in a Victoria & Albert bath and an 8ft George Sherlock sofa that has already lasted them 30 years. There are also various pieces by Eames, including a daybed and chair that Loraine painted.
She says: “We got the daybed second-hand from an elderly couple who had bought it in the 1970s. It is still going strong and that’s why we like to invest in quality because it is less environmentally damaging.”
Outside, the large plot includes organic gardens, two topiary gardens, a parterre, several vegetable plots, fruit bushes, a stream, a paddock and meadowland. The hard landscaping round the outside of the house is granite setts.
The whole conversion project was, says Loraine, “a labour of love” and it paid off.
The couple and their two children have enjoyed a happy 20 years at Wildman’s Barn and are selling to move further north, where Jeremy’s work as an outdoor journalist often takes him.
“We are moving to Scotland but we have loved living here. It is such a beautiful, quiet place with no light pollution and yet it’s just a five-minute drive to Clapham village and Clapham Station is a mile from the house,” says Loraine.
Wildman’s Barn is for sale for £800,000 with the Modern House, www.themodernhouse.com
Rambling and rings
Loraine Ashcroft is a silversmith who teaches and also designs. She now teaches remotely and sells wax casting kits alongside a Zoom workshop, which allows even beginners to create beautiful rings.
“People carve wax models of the rings they want to make, which is then prepped by me and cast in silver or gold. Many people have used this technique to make wedding or everyday rings,” says Loraine.
Jeremy Ashcroft is an author and illustrator, well known for his articles in various outdoor publications and his high-quality maps.He originally trained as a technical illustrator and developed techniques for representing mountains and wild places.
He has been mountaineering editor on Trail Magazine for 29 years and most regularly climbs and walks in Britain and the Alps.