Heading down a congested and fume-filled Los Angeles freeway at the height of his Star Trek fame, Sir Patrick Stewart says he “drove into an idea”.
“I was pretty much resident in LA by then thanks to the filming but as I drove into the smog I was suddenly gripped by the thought of buying a house in the Yorkshire Dales. It was bizarre. I was fearful of losing myself to Hollywood in the way I’d seen other British stage actors do and I wanted a toehold in England, somewhere to come home to.”
The Yorkshire-born actor found himself longing for the feelings of contentment he experienced as a teenager in the 1950s when he cycled out into the Dales on his push bike, leaving the mines and the mills of Mirfield far behind.
“The Dales captured my heart from a very young age,” said Sir Patrick, a celebrated stage actor who became an international film star after playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.
His brother, who still lived in Yorkshire, lined up a series of homes for him to view, including Scar Top House in Hebden, near Grassington. It offered everything he craved. Half a mile up a track and surrounded by moorland, it gave him seclusion, sensational views and it was a world away from the Hollywood spotlight.
He has owned the four-bedroom, grade two listed property for the last 25 years but is preparing to say farewell. It is now up for sale with Dale Eddison for £535,000.
“It was more remote than I envisaged but the views are amazing and it is very private, which has been helpful,” he said.
He invited his family in England to draw up a holiday rota so the house could be used when he wasn’t there. When he was, it was quite often alone.
There were times when he would fly from LA to London before taking a plane to Leeds-Bradford airport and then a taxi to Hebden, just to spend a day at Scar Top. “It was madness but the draw of the house was so powerful. It was my bolthole, my retreat. I loved being in that landscape and I enjoyed hiking. I’d go for 20-mile hikes and not see another person. The local people were very respectful of my privacy too, especially the wonderful couple who had the Post Office. Visitors used to ask them where I lived and they’d say ‘he doesn’t live round here’.”
Back in America, where he has just filmed the third Wolverine movie and episodes of TV series Blunt Talk, his Dales home has helped him to sleep. He imagines himself walking up the track and is in the Land of Nod before he gets to the top.
Since buying the property he has insulated the roof, furnished with oak furniture from nearby Grassington company Royal Oak and converted a barn into a garage. More recently, he has used the the house less and now divides his time between a home in the Cotswolds, close to stage work, and a property in Brooklyn, which he shares with his wife, singer-songwriter Sunny Ozell.
So the “For Sale” sign is up at Scar Top and Sir Patrick is planning to stay there for one last time when he next ventures north for work. He is starring in Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land”, which is coming to Sheffield’s Lyceum theatre in August.
“Part of me is scared of saying goodbye to the house as I know it will be wrench,” he said. “It has brought me such joy and I hope whoever buys it will be just as happy there as I have been.”
*The Inside Story: Scar Top House has an abundance of original features, including mullioned windows and an impressive Inglenook fireplace with original cooking recesses and a cambered arched lintel. On the ground floor, there is a reception hall, utility room and a kitchen with oak units. This leads to a dining area with full-height windows and steps down to a formal dining room. The separate sitting room has an inglenook fireplace.
The first floor is accessed by two staircases and has a bedroom with priest hole cupboard, a bathroom and dressing room. There are three further bedrooms and a shower room on this floor. Outside, there is a detached double garage and ample parking. Other outbuildings include a detached stone store and an integral workshop. The gardens extend to 1.66 acres. The property is a mile from the hamlet of Hebden, which has a Post Office, a pub and a church. Estate agent Amanda May, manager of Dale Eddison’s Skipton branch, adds: ““We’re delighted to be acting on Sir Patrick’s behalf, particularly for such a special property. We have a long list of registered buyers who specifically say that they want a property that is isolated but not remote. These are people who want a countryside lifestyle, great views and no immediate neighbours but equally want to be at the shops and schools in ten minutes. In addition, there is a strong demand for stone character houses, especially for those with space both inside and out, and Scar Top House has it all. There aren’t many properties that can offer this.”
• Contact Dale Eddison, tel: Tel: 01756 630555, www.daleeddison.co.uk
Sir Patrick Stewart: A Life on stage and screen
Sir Patrick Stewart, 75 was born in Mirfield. His mother was a mill worker and his father was a former sergeant major. He won a place at the Bristol Old Vic. and was a respected actor when he took the part of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also played Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies and stars in the TV series Blunt Talk. He has returned to the British stage. A former Chancellor of Huddersfield University, he is also President of the town’s football club academy. He supports Refuge and Combat Stress and has spoken openly about the domestic violence suffered by his mother and of his father’s struggle with PTSD after the war.