Beverley Drury’s idyllic home started life as a tiny terraced cottage.
Sharon Dale reports on how she utilised its growth potential.
After unearthing the history of her cottage during a major property project and enjoying 24 very happy years in the tucked-away, rural idyll, Beverley Drury has come to the conclusion that she isn’t the only one who thought it was the ideal home.
“For thousands of years people have thought this spot, which is in woodland on a south -facing slope, was a good place to live, work and have fun.
“We unearthed several Neolithic quern stones, which were used for grinding seeds and grains, and a mysterious doodle on a boulder, which was probably made by a medieval master mason.
“The oldest part of our cottage itself dates from the end of the 17 th century, when the occupants would probably have been weaving cloth as well as grazing livestock on the common land that has become the golf course,” says Beverley, a wire sculptor who has left her own, considerable mark on the site.
She and her husband have transformed Dove Cottage in Rawdon, near Leeds, into a large, light-filled home that now boasts a separate studio and garages plus its own woodland.
Reflecting on that remarkable transformation now that she is selling her much-loved home to move closer to family in the South East, she says: “ It’s the kind of home that repays the attention you give it – with interest.”
Beverley and her husband first viewed the Grade II listed property in 1995 and loved the location.
In the sought-after Leeds suburb of Rawdon, it sits on a private lane at the top of Cragg Woods and overlooks the golf course.
“It feels very rural but it’s a short drive to Leeds city centre and you can walk to the new train station at Apperley Bridge.
“We fell in love with the house immediately, even though it was much smaller than we wanted,” says Beverley.
Back then the property was the middle cottage in a row of three but when the tenant moved out of the end house, which was owned by the golf club, Beverley asked if she could buy it.
It was perfect timing as the club members agreed and she and her husband got permission to knock the two homes into one.
While they were delighted with the prospect of doubling the size of the house, just as thrilling were a series of architectural discoveries.
“We found that the two cottages had been linked together before, by an internal door that had been covered up.
“We also found wonderful trusses under the suspended ceilings, two fireplaces and mullion windows that were hidden under concrete render,” says Beveley, who added her own homage to the past by making some decorative plaster friezes with a cake icing gun. They are on the first floor sitting room wall and are so convincing that the inspector from English Heritage thought they were 300 years old.
The conversion into one home created a large, light-filled interior and went smoothly thanks to great builders and craftsmen, including local joiner Ashley Hemsworth.
The property now has a kitchen, dining room/snug and a large bedroom and shower room on the ground floor. On the first floor, there is a 29ft living area, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
All the rooms are painted white. “It helps bounce the natural light around and it makes the original beams and trusses stand out,” says Beverley who has furnished with new and vintage buys and family furniture.
The most recent project has seen the couple add a large studio/office, garages, a log store and a utility room in what was the dovecote.
Beverley and her husband also invested in solar panels, which generate an income through a feed-in tariff, along with free electricity during daylight hours.
Outside, dry stone wallers used recycled stone to make a retaining garden wall with an inbuilt bench.
The couple also bought a walled woodland from their neighbour, which means the house now has 3/4 of an acre of grounds.
“It’s amazing to think that from a tiny house in the middle of a row we now have a big house and our own woodland,” says Beverley, who adds that the cottage also sparked her successful second career as a designer maker.
Her sculpting began when she started experimenting with the electrical wire that was left behind by the builders who constructed the studio.
She made birds with it and later began using wire from champagne bottle tops to make even more of them, hence the name of her business “Champagne Birds”.
Beverley, who previously worked for Bradford Council, began selling her work after its potential was recognised by the owner of Mill Bridge Gallery in Skipton.
She is now shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year 2019 and has also expanded her repertoire to animals made from upcycled wire and poachers snare wire from South Africa. “I use the snare wire to make something hideous into something beautiful and full of life,” she says, adding that she has a lot to thank Dove Cottage for.
“We have been very, very happy here and we are really proud of what we’ve done but family comes first, which why we are moving to be closer to them.
“This is the house of a lifetime and we know we won’t be able to replicate it when we move down south.
“It’s so lovely and light and there are so many opportunities to see and hear birds and other wildlife, yet the city is close by.
It has all the advantages of the countryside with the convenience of urban life.”
For sale: Dove Cottage
The cottage has 3/4 acre of grounds, parking for several vehicles and electric gates.
Inside, it has a vestibule, farmhouse style kitchen, dining room/snug with multi-fuel stove, bathroom and large bedroom.
On the first floor is a 29ft sitting room with six windows and wood-burning stove, two further bedrooms, one with an en-suite and a second bathroom.
Outside, there is a studio, double garage plus a utility room.
Dove Cottage, Rawdon, Leeds, is in the Cragg Woods conservation area and is for sale at £850,000 with Hardisty & Co estate agents, Horsforth. For details contact. tel: 0113 239 0012, www.hardistyandco.com.