Historic houses with stories to tell
By John Grainger, Property editor
If there’s one thing better than a house with a story, it’s a house that displays its story on the outside, for all to see.
Commemorative plaques have been informing passers-by of their properties’ connections with notable people and events ever since the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) established the first blue plaque scheme in London in 1866.
Then again, according to local historian Malcolm Neesam, Harrogate put up its first plaque on the old Spa Rooms, which stood next to the Royal Hall, in 1835, so perhaps the honours are up for grabs.
Since that first RSA plaque (marking the birthplace of Lord Byron), the scheme has grown – there are now about 850 plaques in London – and has been much emulated.
In our area, Knaresborough and Wetherby both have blue plaque schemes; Ripon has green plaques – 30 of them – while Harrogate prefers brown ones and has about 80.
The following four properties are all currently for sale in our area and all have plaques telling interesting stories.
Carlingford (left), on Belford Road in Harrogate, was built in 1883 as a nurses’ home for the infirmary across the road (now St Peter’s Primary School).
It is believed to have been owned by a Swiss banker called Betti, who is said to have lent his name to Betty’s tea rooms.
The town-centre property is offered for sale with vacant possession, giving any new owner the option to turn it either into a detached family home with at least seven bedrooms, or into three two-bedroom flats with parking.
A short walk away, Wetherby House (below, left) on Queen Parade is a detached Georgian townhouse made for gracious living.
It was the home of Harrogate founding father and former mayor Richard Ellis, who built some of the finest buildings in the town.
It has five bedrooms, most of them en suite, three reception rooms, an orangery, extensive cellars, large tandem garage and beautiful mature walled gardens with tool store.
Across the Stray, 3 Wedderburn House (above) is part of a grade II-listed property built in 1786 by Alexander Wedderburn MP, who later became Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.
The semi-detached property, which was totally remodelled a few years ago, has three bedrooms and spacious ground-floor accommodation, including conservatory.
Outside, there is a courtyard, shared access driveway and detached garage with private parking for two cars.
Finally, as if to prove that history needn’t cost the earth, 26 Borrage Lane (main photo) in Ripon is one half of a building believed to have been an 18th-century peasants’ cottage.
The cottage, which is in a conservation area, has several individual features, as well as two bedrooms, an upper-floor studio, cottage-style garden and range of original outbuildings.
The property next door, number 24, has a plaque commemorating war poet Wilfred Owen, who “lived and wrote here from March to June 1918 whilst based at the Ripon Army Camp”, but since they are two halves of the same building, number 26 may be able to claim a portion of the fame.
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