Not so long ago, if you wanted to live in a grand country house you had to be either a member of the landed gentry or one of the thousands of servants who ran these places.
But times have changed. These days, almost anyone can live in one of the nation’s most imposing historic homes – or rather, in a part of one – and it’s a choice that’s becoming increasingly popular.
Those who don’t like to see grand old houses divided up and ‘democratised’ – and there are some who don’t – might perhaps reflect that conversion into flats is a small price to pay to save such fine buildings.
After all, a great many of them – perhaps as many as 4,000 – have already been lost over the last century or so, for various reasons, including (increasingly through the 20th century) high inheritance tax demands. In 1955, one country house was demolished every two-and-a-half days. What’s more, considerably more historic houses have been lost in Yorkshire than in any other English county.
Those that remain have been put to a variety of uses, and multiple residency is just one of them. Some buyers simply want a beautifully built home with a tranquil view. Others buy into the romance: sweeping staircases, armour and antlers, discrete staff, drinks on the terrace, getting lost in the east wing...
So, for readers addicted to chandeliers, high ceilings and the crunch of tyres on gravel drives, the following three properties have all been developed from large country houses, and all are currently on the market.
Apartment 3, Mansion House is one of a number of properties created from Moor Park, a magnificent Grade II listed mansion at Beckwithshaw, just west of Harrogate. The house is set well back from the main road and was built by Leeds industrialist James Bray in 1859. It was converted in 2000 and is set in around 200 acres of established parkland.
The flat, which comes with two designated parking spaces, is accessed via the grand main entrance and a sweeping, carved oak staircase. It has two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and large drawing room with high ceilings, intricate cornices and double-glazed sash windows.
As if that weren’t enough, it also has a secret door leading from the drawing room, giving it exclusive access to house’s central tower, which has windows on all sides, giving a 360-degree view.
Apartment 11, Ingmanthorpe Hall is part of a Grade II listed country house dating from the early 19th century.
The second-floor property has one double bedroom, shower-room, kitchen and lounge-diner, as well as two gated parking spaces, additional visitor parking spaces and access to the communal grass areas.
Finally, Apartment 2, Spofforth Hall is a lower-ground-floor property between Spofforth and Stockeld Park. It has a 34-foot entrance hall, two double bedrooms, one with an en suite shower room, bathroom, kitchen-diner and sitting room with high ceilings, deep architraves and original skirtings.
It has its own courtyard garden to the rear and two allocated parking spaces, plus access to around five acres of communal parkland.