Stunning acre garden one of the finest in Staffordshire
I T WILL help if you are a keen gardener when thinking about Bleak House because this is not one for the faint-hearted. But if you do have green fingers then this property will reward you like no other.
What was a wasteland left untended since the 1950s has been turned into an acre of phenomenal garden by the unstinting efforts of Julian and Sue Beynon, who spent a decade making it into what experts describe as among the finest in Staffordshire.
It is a quite extraordinary monument to their vision and hard work, with different themes and 'rooms' at every turn and water features including what must be the piece de resistance, a waterfall plunging some 30 feet into the pool at the quarry at the bottom of the garden.
Sue says: "When we came here there was nothing, just a big mess, but we have put in levels, terraced it, laid every path and built every wall.''
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Sue's family have run Thursfield Nurseries for three generations so gardening is clearly in her blood and it is little wonder that Bleak House is in the Good Gardens of Britain scheme and attracts hundreds of visitors on open days. For a gardener this is a house like no other.
The property itself, at The Village, Bagnall, is pretty spectacular too. Originally built as two houses in 1909, Julian and Sue bought it around 25 years ago and spent two years turning it into one.
Now it is a unique and charming family home. Julian says: "It is not a country house but it is in the style of a country house.''
There are three to four bedrooms and a separate annexe with plans to convert it into either an office or living accommodation for a relative.
Period features such as oak panelling, stone fireplaces and a carved oak staircase abound (it probably helps that Julian is in the antiques trade) and each room is unique. The farmhouse kitchen with a quarry tiled floor and pale blue wooden units give a warm welcome and beyond that is an incredible drawing room, almost 27 feet long with a wooden floor, a walnut open fireplace with marble hearth, oak doors to the dining room beyond – this does indeed have the feel of a country house.
There is a big conservatory, an old fashioned laundry room, a boiler room (oil fired) a rear hall and the main reception hall used at the moment as an office. It's some office though, with an oak carved staircase rising up to the first floor and oak panelling on the walls!
The upstairs is scarcely any less impressive. The landing has oak panelling and a stained glass window, the master bedroom was originally two rooms (and could be converted back if necessary) and has a dressing room bigger than a lot of bedrooms, the bedroom itself and an en suite with a bath.
When I tell you that the en suite has marble window sills you get some idea of the wealth of detail in this house. This suite can be converted back into two rooms, but I can't help but feel that it would be a shame to lose something like this.
T here are two more bedrooms and a family bathroom, all of them a decent size. Outside there is – apart from the garden of course – a brick built garage/store and an application has been submitted to turn it into a one bedroom annexe, with a kitchen dining/living room and shower room. Bleak House is not for everyone. It would be a travesty to buy the property but then let the garden fall into neglect, and it does require more effort than most to maintain it. That said, for those prepared to do it, this is a unique opportunity to buy a truly delightful house in a beautiful but convenient location on the edge of Bagnall village.
There are plenty of big houses on the market – but only a few are blessed with so much character and none at all which have a garden like this.