Businessman Richard Jackson fell in love with Loftus Hill after attending functions there when it was operating as a hotel.
When it came on the market in 1991 and jumped at the chance to buy it and restore it to its former glory as a beautiful home. He did so knowing that he had the best possible partner to help him achieve this ambition.
Richard’s wife, Elaine, is a renowned interior designer, who runs Interior Affair, a design practice with a showroom in Boston Spa. Together, the couple have created one of Yorkshire’s finest private houses.
At the moment it tops the Rightmove chart as the most expensive home for sale in the region and there are good reasons for the £6.75m price tag.
While Richard Jackson bought with his heart almost 30 years ago, his head told him that the property had all the right attributes.
Location is the first commandment for all would-be buyers, especially those at the top end of the market, and Loftus Hill is in a prime spot. It sits between Knaresborough and Boroughbridge and is close to the honeypot town of Harrogate and the A1M.
The house sits in the centre of its 43 acres of land, which means there is peace and an exceptional level of privacy for those who live there. First impressions matter and the house, thought to date to the 1600s, has a handsome frontage thanks to a Regency makeover.
Historically, Loftus Hill was a royal tied house with its lands and hunting privileges handed out by the Crown in return for a variety of unrecorded “services rendered”. According to local records, the estate was owned by the Slingsbys of nearby Scriven for 550 years from about 1300 and, according to one account, “before that time it had passed through many vicissitudes, changing from the lords of the forest in some of those very dubious ways common to feudalism”.
Its medieval roots are in evidence in its rare and well-preserved, late-15th-century tithe barn, a listed Grade II building in its own right. This barn was officially opened as a banqueting suite by Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister and when Loftus Hill was a country house hotel. It has been upgraded and is still in use by the Jackson family.
Inside the main house, period features have been retained while the rooms have been carefully modernised to make the perfect 21st century country home.
According to Elaine Jackson, the transformation was “a 20 year challenge” but the end result was worth it. Local tradespeople were used wherever possible and included a craftsman joiner who made the kitchen cabinetry.
The decor is elegant, opulent and timeless with the bold colour scheme in the dining room a rare exception.
“It’s a formal room, generally used on special occasions and mostly on evenings when candles are used to enhance the ambience,” says Elaine.
Most of the furniture and accessories were sourced and supplied by Interior Affair and the silk carpets are handmade. The Jacksons say they would be happy to sell the furniture, furnishings and accessories to the next owner of the house.
The property has a grand reception hall, a drawing room, dining room and a garden room overlooking the walled garden. The latest refurbishment has seen the installation of a large, state-of-the-art breakfast kitchen with a second kitchen used for entertaining.
In a house designed for today’s hard-workers and high-achievers, the library also works perfectly as a private office, while an elegant first-floor sitting room sits with Loftus Hill’s six bedroom suites.
In addition to the tithe barn and its function suite, other buildings included in the sale include two cottages, one with three bedrooms and its own private gardens, and extensive outbuildings, including five stables. There is also a tennis court.
Richard and Elaine Jackson are selling to downsize. He says: “We have been tremendously happy here. It has been the house of our dreams but our four children have now grown up and moved away and it is simply too big for us.
“This is a wonderful family home that needs to be lived in and loved and that’s what we have done.
“It has been perfect for us. I am involved in a number of charities and have been Deputy to the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire since 2003 and more recently High Sheriff of the county, so we have had to do a good deal of entertaining. Both the house and the gardens are ideal for this.
“It is with great regret that we are leaving but we believe we have created something special, combining the history of the house with a sensitive and elegant restoration. We just hope whoever buys it enjoys it as much as we have.”
Daniel Rigg of property consultancy Knight Frank, which is marketing Loftus Hill, says: “Loftus Hill is a magnificent house, arguably the finest country house on the market in Yorkshire.
“It is wonderfully situated in the middle of a mature estate but the exceptional level of privacy belies its convenient location. It is just seven miles from the elegant town of Harrogate and equidistant from London and Edinburgh in the heart of Yorkshire.
“It is also ideally situated for swift access to the A1M motorway with Leeds and York in very comfortable commuting distance. London is only two hours away via train from York and Leeds-Bradford Airport is just a thirty minute drive.”
Loftus Hill, Ferrensby, is on the market with Knight Frank, £6.75m. For details on the sale contact Daniel Rigg at Knight Frank, tel: 01423 535373, www.knightfrank.co.uk.