A case of to the manor retired
loosely based on Danish and Dutch ideals, prioritising comfort, light and space, and with eco-friendly features such as air-source heat pumps and electric car charging points.
The properties, which will open this summer, have been built in the grounds of the Scalesceugh Estate near Carlisle in Cumbria. “It all started when a friend told us about this derelict property in his portfolio,” explains Anita RayChowdhury Herdeiro, 39, the cofounder. “No one seemed to know what to do with it, and he wanted us to think of a solution.”
The Scalesceugh Estate dates back 500 years, when the first farmhouse was built on the land. A country house was added in 1746. John Robinson Harrison inherited the site 100 years later and, when he retired from shipbuilding, hired Glaswegian architect Alexander N Paterson to build Scalesceugh Hall. The result is a grand mansion with Westmorland slate roof, Italian fireplaces, buff sandstone dressings, and French chateau-style detailing.
The property was passed down to Harrison’s descendants but was eventually donated to the Cerebral Palsy Trust. In 2011, after 20 years in the stately home, the centre closed. The building was put up for sale after the council couldn’t afford the upkeep of the listed building. Interest piqued, Ray-Chowdhury Herdeiro, a former GP, drove up with husband Bruno Herdeiro, 31, a former City strategist, to view the property on a rainy Cumbrian summer’s day. Many of the period features had been boarded up and the building had been neglected for years, but they were both fired up by its potential.
“We both fell in love with the place,” she says. “It reminded me of Downton Abbey, a place that takes you back to a forgotten era. Up on a hill, there are stunning views across two tiers of lawns and the countryside beyond. The informal entrance, which was built for the family, features a pair of spiral staircases, which look like something out of a Hollywood movie.”
There was one snag. “A care home operator wanted to take it on and carve up the building into 47 rooms,” says Ray-Chowdhury Herdeiro. “We felt very strongly that this was not the answer. That’s not how anyone should age, cooped up in a tiny room.”
But the idea of using the estate for elderly care stuck. Cumbria has a much higher proportion of elderly residents than elsewhere in the UK. “Some 25 per cent of the people who live here are
Anita RayChowdhury Herdeiro and Bruno Herdeiro in the grand house, main and left