Who will write next chap­ter in long his­tory of city’s old­est home?

Newlaithes Manor is thought to be the old­est home in Leeds with fea­tures span­ning eight cen­turies. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - FRONT PAGE -

HIS­TORIC prop­er­ties are laden with at­mos­phere but the hang­over from the past can be cold and creepy, hint­ing at things that go bump in the night.

At Newlaithes Manor in Hors­forth, said to be the old­est home in Leeds, the feel­ing is won­der­fully warm and friendly.

“Peo­ple of­ten ask if there’s a ghost but there isn’t,” says owner Ann Chadwick, who cer­tainly wouldn’t have stayed there for 35 years if there was. She and her hus­band Peter bought the prop­erty in 1977 af­ter be­ing se­duced by its semi-ru­ral lo­ca­tion and an in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of fea­tures that span 800 years.

The his­tory of the prop­erty is some­thing of an enigma, but Newlaithes means “new barn” and it is thought the house was one of the sev­eral tithe barns con­structed by the monks of nearby Kirk­stall Abbey.

It is built mainly of stone and most of it dates to the early 1400s, though there is ev­i­dence of an ear­lier in­car­na­tion that had mud and wat­tle walls and a thatched roof.

The house has sur­vived ar­chi­tec­tural fash­ions and fads through the ages and en­tered the 21st cen­tury suf­fi­ciently un­scathed. It still re­tains its mul­lion win­dows and the mag­nif­i­cent linen fold panelling fea­tur­ing ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal crosses, which is thought to have come from the dis­so­lu­tion of Kirk­stall Abbey dur­ing the Ref­or­ma­tion.

The house also has work­ing Georgian shut­ters, a Georgian china cab­i­net and an ex­cep­tional Tu­dor open fire­place that dom­i­nates the din­ing room.

His­to­ri­ans have noted the stone cush­ions on the ground floor car­ry­ing the crook beams and it is this kind of ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage, so beau­ti­fully pre­served, that war­rants a men­tion in the cur­rent edi­tion of Pevs­ner.

David Phillip, di­rec­tor at Dacre, Son & Hartley, which is mar­ket­ing the prop­erty for £795,000, is also im­pressed. He says: “Newlaithes Manor has sur­vived un­scathed, although al­tered, through eight cen­turies of so­cial changes span­ning the reigns of over thirty mon­archs and it is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of the evo­lu­tion of do­mes­tic ar­chi­tec­ture in this coun­try.

“In­ter­nally the house pos­sesses a most in­ter­est­ing in­ter­nal lay­out, with prob­a­bly its most im­pres­sive fea­tures be­ing the ex­ten­sive tim­ber panelling. Ev­ery knot and chisel mark of the beau­ti­ful pan­elled wood­work con­ceals a wealth of his­toric in­for­ma­tion and the lovely old stone walls re­veal the ma­son’s chis­elled mark on the ash­lars.”

The Chad­wicks have made the grade two listed prop­erty fit for mod­ern liv­ing.

Over the years, they have reroofed, re-wired and re-plumbed the house and its ad­join­ing cot­tages.

On the ground floor of the main house, there is a draw­ing room, a study, util­ity room, din­ing room and shower room. What was a re­cep­tion room has been trans­formed into a large liv­ing kitchen. Up­stairs, there is a gal­leried land­ing, four bed­rooms and a bathroom.

There is a cot­tage at ei­ther side. One is con­nected to the house at both ground and first floor lev­els and has two bed­rooms and the other is a self-con­tained one be­d­room home, known as Manor Lodge, which can be used as an an­nexe or as a rental prop­erty.

Out­side, there is a garage with re­mote con­trolled door and a stor­age area in the loft. The drive pro­vides ad­di­tional off street park­ing.

Keen gar­den­ers will be at­tracted to Newlaithes, which has an out­door toi­let and ad­ja­cent pot­ting shed along­side log and fuel stores.

The gar­den is south fac­ing with a shaped lawn, stone flagged paths and ter­race. There is a kitchen gar­den, tim­ber sum­mer­house and lock-up shed.

While mod­ernising both out­side and in­side was es­sen­tial to make a prac­ti­cal fam­ily home, all the his­toric el­e­ments of the build­ing and its sur­round­ings have been care­fully re­tained and still more un­cov­ered.

“When we did the kitchen, the plas­ter started drop­ping off the walls and re­vealed beau­ti­ful stone ash­lars with the orig­i­nal masons’ mark on them. We had them all sand­blasted and they are beau­ti­ful,” says Ann Chadwick, who adds that some of orig­i­nal fea­tures have proved very use­ful.

The shut­ters, she says, are bet­ter than dou­ble glaz­ing for keep­ing in the heat and they’re also bur­glar-proof.

The Chad­wicks have en­joyed liv­ing amongst the rich his­tory but they were keen to make the house a cosy fam­ily home rather than a mu­seum, so the fur­ni­ture and fur­nish­ings are a mix of the com­fort­able, in­her­ited and much-loved.

One trea­sure that will be left for the next owner is a tiny leather shoe found hid­den in the walls for good for­tune, pos­si­bly in the 1800s, and it seems to have proved lucky for Ann and Peter

“It’s been a su­per home and a won­der­ful place to bring up chil­dren,” says Ann, who is sell­ing to down­size to the coun­try.

“We are right on the edge of the green belt and there are lovely walks down to the river from here but we are also very close to the city. In fact you can walk in along the river.”

She adds: “We will be re­ally sad to leave as we have many happy mem­o­ries but it is time to move on.

“Our chil­dren have grown up and it’s time for an­other fam­ily to live here.”

AFRAID OF NO GHOST: Newlaithes in Hors­forth, Leeds, is thought to be one of the old­est homes in Leeds, but the own­ers have never had any ghostly ex­pe­ri­ences in 35 years and say it has a warm and friendly at­mos­phere de­spite its great age. It has pe­riod fea­tures span­ning eight cen­turies, some of which are thought to orig­i­nate from nearby Kirk­stall Abbey.

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