This property converted by art collector Greville Worthington is one of the most remarkable holiday lets in Yorkshire

Art collector Greville Worthington has one of the most remarkable holiday lets in Yorkshire

Choice in the UK holiday let market has rocketed in recent years thanks to the increasing number of people recognising the potential of this form of property investment. The result is stiff competition for bookings and, as a result, standards have been driven up with gorgeous interiors playing a key part.

Along with good looks, location and great facilities, those looking to stay in a holiday home are increasingly searching for something different. The remarkable Aquarius Rising, which sits in a beautiful, peaceful setting near Richmond, certainly ticks that box. The former presbytery, schoolroom and church belong to contemporary art collector Greville Worthington and were part of the Brough Park estate, owned by his mother’s family.

His grandfather gave the buildings to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough in the 1940s when their upkeep became an issue and Greville bought them back in 1992. Keen to move back to Yorkshire after living in London, he had spotted the opportunity to make the redundant presbytery and schoolroom into a home, while retaining the adjoining neo gothic, Grade II*-listed Church of Saint Paulinus.

The former presbytery, chapel and schoolroom is now Aquarius Rising, a no expense spared holiday let

It took vision and significant investment but the result is stunning thanks to the respect paid to the 19th century architecture. The first incarnation of the conversion featured interiors heavily influenced by the minimalist aesthetic, including a cedar wood bath by famous architect and fellow Yorkshireman John Pawson.

When Greville married and had three children, there was a loft extension to create more bedrooms and the look was softened. Colour was added, along with more furniture, accessories and art. That made the property’s next transition, from family home to holiday let, much easier, though Greville added some extras outside to appeal to guests. “I’ve created a mini spa so there’s a hot tub, sauna, shower and changing room,” he says.

Inside the property, which has six bedrooms and four bathrooms, the high ceilings, stone walls and magnificent stone arches and Romanesque columns are the stand-out features and they work beautifully with the interior design, which is a mix of contemporary and traditional.

There is a large kitchen/diner with cabinets topped with marble from Durham-based Marble Arts and the lighting is from Pookie. Around the handmade table are seats reclaimed from an old London bus. “I wanted to emphasise innovation while giving a unique feel to the room and so I designed the seats with Peter Dixon. I had the metal frames stress tested and bent by a firm in Ripon and attached the bus seats to them,” says Greville.

The antique Mouseman table with Arne Jacobsen chairs

The table has a top made from cedar of Lebanon and is one of many items in the property that reflect his passion for trees and woodwork. He is hands on and has his own carpentry workshop on the Brough Park estate where he has “turned ash dieback into a blessing”.

“If you fell the tree at the first signs of dieback, you can use the wood to make furniture and it is a wonderful wood,” says Greville who also has a number of plant collections, the most renowned being his 120 species of rare bamboo. “You can grow more types of bamboo in this part of Yorkshire than you can in Japan.”

He also collects witch hazel and wisteria and enjoys growing laburnum and maple trees from seed. “Planting trees is the future. I’ve just got 1,000 laburnums that I grew on the windowsill of my office. I’m now putting them in a polytunnel and then I’ll have to find somewhere to plant them,” he says.

Next to the kitchen is a bar area with shelving made from an elm tree from the estate that had come to the end of its life. At the rear is a sitting area with a wood-burning stove and a beautiful white sofa from top Italian furniture company Edra and there is also a separate sitting room with an open fire and velvet sofa. What was the old schoolroom is now a huge entertaining space that an antique Mouseman table shares with Arne Jacobsen chairs and a disco ball.

A huge stone drinking trough, thought to be Roman, from Greville’s former family home Brough Hall, is now used as a planter thanks to an extendable JCB that got it out of the ground and into the house.

One of the property’s standout features is a huge, oval stone drinking trough, thought to be Roman, from Greville’s former family home, Brough Hall. It is now used as a planter thanks to an extendable JCB that got it out of the ground and into the house.

There is also an impressive array of work by contemporary artists and photographers, including a limited edition print by Damien Hirst, a photograph of Leigh Bowery by Fergus Greer and photographs by Dan Holdsworth, among them Blackout, which featured in an exhibition at the Baltic in Gateshead. There is also a painting by Greville’s daughter, artist Io Worthington.

While most owners wouldn’t have countenanced leaving their favourite works of art in their holiday let, Greville has a different take: “I want to share it and I want guests to enjoy it. The other reason for leaving the art in there is to showcase interesting talent, like Dan Holdsworth,” he says.

Elsewhere, the bedrooms are all beautiful but the master suite is the one to fight over with a huge ensuite and a free-standing bath tub. “I wanted there to be nothing less than the best in the house and I also wanted it to be a new experience for people who stay there so it has interesting art, interesting furniture and interesting spaces,” says Greville.

The party room with disco ball and modern art

Guest reviews for Aquarius Rising show that his approach was correct and he is now thinking about creating another holiday property and says: “I have my eye on something else that will be even bigger and better.”

For details on Aquarius Rising, visit www.holidayathome.co.uk/aquarius-rising

The bespoke kitchen with repurposed antique chest of drawers with a new marble top offering storage
The bar area
One of the bedrooms with a Damien Hirst Spot print
The dining area with handmade table and repurposed bus seats