This fabulous farmhouse near Middleham is now an extra large holiday let thanks to a splendid renovation by its owner and a Dales-based team
Harry Scrope is no stranger to multi-tasking since taking over the reins at the family home, Danby Hall, near Leyburn, and its accompanying land and buildings. Keeping on top of maintenance and repairs at the historic house is a costly and never-ending task. Then there’s the grounds and overseeing the 1,500-acre estate and its 22 properties, alongside his paid job.
“I work hard to keep everything going,” says Harry, a chartered surveyor and former captain in the Coldstream Guards. “There’s always something to do and if I think I can do it, I’ll have a go.”
Most lately, he has turned his attention to interior design while project managing the transformation of an estate farmhouse near Middleham into a fabulous five- bedroom holiday let. It is commendable that he prefers to rent the two other farms and 20 residential properties on the 1,500-acre estate to long-term tenants, even though he could almost double the income by letting them to holiday makers.
“I have always preferred to let to long-term tenants even though we get less revenue because that way we can help local people stay here, while keeping the integrity of the place and maintaining a community feel,” says Harry.
The reason that he decided to convert Hollins Farmhouse for holiday use was because the property and 350 acres of land was no longer viable as a sheep farm. It also needed work, which holidaymaker income could fund. “The tenant was a young farmer who surrendered the tenancy to take on a farm with more land in Cumbria,” he says.
“It’s a reflection of the challenges of sheep farming and the resulting pressures on farmers. The tenant had 700 sheep and was doing everything to the max but he could see that the only solution was to get a place with more land that would allow him to scale up. That’s when I made the decision to let the grazing to another farmer and redevelop the farmhouse into a holiday let. It also needed quite a lot of work, including to the roof, which letting it this way will help pay for.”
The property now sleeps up to 10 in its five bedrooms and there are daybeds in the snug, which can sleep two children. The location in Wensleydale is quiet, private and sublime with long-range rural views over the River Yore to Witton Fell and walks from the doorstep but it is within a few minutes drive of well-served Middleham with its medieval castle, racehorse stables, four pubs, village shop and tearoom. East Witton, home to the renowned Blue Lion pub and restaurant, is also on the doorstep.
The farmhouse dates to the 1500s and was largely redeveloped by the Georgians before Victorians added their mark. To bring it up to luxury let standards, Harry called on trusted local tradespeople to help him.
They included two “fantastic” local builders, Biker Joinery, which made and fitted all the external windows and doors, AD Calvert which renewed stonework, including mullions, lintels and sills, and Finghall-based Norman Iveson Steel.
Major changes included knocking the separate kitchen and dining room into one large, open-plan space. There were others, though while Harry was in charge of the fit-out, design and decor, he says: “I don’t have a monopoly on ideas, which is why I consulted the joiners who have a great eye for what will work.”
The kitchen is from Howdens and the extra large dining table came via Charlotte Denny, director of Holiday at Home, which has the property on its books. The dining chairs belonged to one of Harry’s tenants and were decaying in storage after she had downsized. He bought them for £10 each and had them restored.
A Victorian fireplace in the sitting room was spruced up with black and gold paint and a super-efficient Jetmasters open fire installed by Glyn Barnard Ltd of Leyburn. The colour scheme Harry chose for each room is based on Farrow & Ball colours, including Shaded White, a pale greige, and Shadow White, a soft white, which were used extensively, while the use of Wild Primrose in one bedroom and Teresa’s Green in another add zing.
Furniture is a mix of new finds plus old ones that add the essential character. The latter came from Danby Hall, Tennants auction rooms and country house sales. “There were some great finds, including a little table from Tennants for £75 that would sell for £750 in London,” says Harry who also upcycled a redundant altar table from a church, which now graces the hall.
The blinds were made by Wensleydale- based Jol Henderson with fabric chosen by Harry from Waltons Mill Shop in Boroughbridge, while the carpets and sisal on the floors came from Milners in Leyburn. Art is a major feature, adding both colour and interest, and there is work by local artists, paintings from Danby Hall and from auctions, along with a cricketing print, which reflects Harry’s love of the game. The stand-out piece is a 3D map of the Yorkshire Dales from Dorrigo.co.uk.
The house now has a boot room, an open-plan kitchen dining room,a utility room, cloakroom, two sitting rooms, five bedrooms and a snug with the two daybeds. Outside is a large lawn, a purpose-built office with wifi, a terrace and a gazebo with lighting plus seating for 12.
“I’ve really enjoyed the journey with Hollins Farmhouse,” says Harry, who adds: “That is thanks to working with a fantastic team of professionals with incredible skills.”
*Hollins Farmhouse, near Middleham, is available to let through Holiday at Home, www.holidayathome.co.uk