50ft mill chimney makes for a real hot property

WE BEAT them at cricket to bring home the Ashes, now a Yorkshireman is piling on the agony for Aussies by claiming to have the world's biggest "barbie".

Not only is it the tallest, it's probably the most unusual, for the barbecue is a 50ft high mill chimney.

The brick chimney was once used to power steam tools for a wood mill, but now it's a focal point in David and Sandi Lee's garden.

Also doubling as a gigantic burger burner, it is up for sale as part and parcel of their listed property, Fountain House, at Helperby, near Easingwold, in North Yorkshire.

The unusual garden feature was an appealing extra when they bought the house eight years ago.

"You couldn't really see it on the brochure and so when we went out to view and went into the garden it was a real surprise," said Mr Lee, a banker.

"The owner then acted as if it was the most normal thing ever. We thought it was fantastic. It certainly adds wow factor and we do use it.

"It is a tradition for us to light a fire that roars in it every New Year's Eve.

"We've also used it to barbecue on. It must be the world's tallest barbecue."

The chimney is thought to have been built about 150 years ago and was once part of a wood mill belonging to the local estate. When the mill was demolished, the chimney remained and became part of the garden for Fountain House. It is a protected structure after English Heritage deemed it was of historical importance.

The detached house, in the heart of the village, is listed thanks to a host of period features both outside and in.

The distinctive property was built in 1607 when James I was on the throne, but used Tudor building techniques including a sturdy oak frame, visible from the front of the house. The interior has original floorboards, beams and an inglenook plus a box staircase.

On the ground floor there is a reception hall with range, living room, sitting room, dining room, snug, shower room and kitchen. On the first floor, there are four bedrooms, a dressing room and a bathroom.

Outside there is a parking area, garage and large walled garden with its own micro climate and mill chimney.

It has a vine and fruit trees and the Lees have grown peaches and even kiwi fruit there.

Fountain House and its chimney are for sale through Robin Jessop with a guide price of between 480,000 and 520,000, and the estate agency is expecting a lot of interest.

Estate agent Sarah Jessop said: "It's a really exciting property and the chimney is probably unique. We've never seen or heard of a house with a mill chimney in the garden before and no-one is quite sure how it became part of the property."

For anyone fearful that the towering structure might topple over, Mr Lee is reassuring.

"It was renovated along with the house in 1990 and has been completely re-pointed.

"The person who did the renovation did an amazing job and the quality and attention to detail they employed is incredible.

"Plus, let's face it, the chimney has been here for 150 years already and the house has been here for a lot longer than that and they're both still standing and going strong."

The Lees have decided to sell up and move on to another period house with a substantial amount of land, but they will be sad to leave their home in Helperby.

Mr Lee said: "It's a one-off and if anyone likes quirky, interesting properties, they will love this.

"I'm not sure what buyers will make of the chimney, but it can be used as a fire and a barbecue."

For details on Fountain House contact Robin Jessop at Bedale, tel: 01677 425950, or via www.robinjessop.co.uk

Relics from the victorian heyday

Many of Yorkshire's mill chimneys have been reduced to rubble, but some, like the one at Fountain House, have been preserved for posterity.

This is mainly thanks to being listed and protected by English Heritage.

One of the most famous examples is the listed Lister's Mill in Bradford. The 255ft high Italianate chimney is now part of an apartment development and the centrepiece of a piazza created by Urban Splash.

It is an important landmark in Manningham and stands as a proud reminder of what was the biggest silk mill in the world and of the vast wealth and enormous kudos that Bradford enjoyed in its Victorian heyday.

There are 97 chimneys listed in the Yorkshire area across a variety of sites. In North Yorkshire there are a total of 27.