It’s a wrap for the film supremo Amanda and her dream home
Her house has been a haven for family and film hotshots, which is why Amanda Nevill is selling with regret. Sharon Dale reports
THE longer you’ve worked in estate agency, the more that quote from Hamlet rings true: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Amanda Nevill’s experience certainly seems to suggest that forces were at work to propel her towards Prospect House.
“I had been living in Ilkley and the deal with my two daughters was that when they could drive we could move into the country so I could have a proper garden.
“We sold quickly but then I couldn’t find the right house. I nearly bought one but the offer was turned down and then, for absolutely no reason, I remembered the details of a house in Keighley I’d considered many months previously.
“I’d dismissed it because it was out of my price bracket. I’m not sure why but I rang the agents and they said the house had sold but the sale had fallen through that morning. They were just about to re-offer it to the market.”
Amanda, who is director of the British Film Institute, jumped back in her car and drove to see it immediately.
“I’d only viewed the downstairs and it was out of my league financially, but I knew immediately it was the one. The location is amazing. It’s right on the edge of Keighley with incredible views right down the valley and on a clear day you can even see the skyscrapers in Leeds.
“It’s also incredibly light because of the big windows and it has a feeling of utter peace and tranquillity. It was my dream home. I told the agent there and then that I’d pay the asking price.”
That was 12 years ago and whether it was fate or coincidence, owner and house have been a match made in heaven.
Amanda has re-pointed the property and modernised, preserving the period features that bowled her over on her visit. They include original fireplaces and doors, ornate ceilings and enormously high skirting boards.
The house, which has five bedrooms and four reception rooms, was built around 1800 but also boasts Arts and Crafts elements, including the oak staircase and stained glass window, thanks to a later extension.
She also put in three bathrooms, treated the kitchen to some free-standing furniture and decorated throughout.
The scheme is largely neutral but colour and interest comes from favourite paintings by Scarborough artist Adam King and her treasured collection of photographs.
Most of the furniture came from her former home, though she has added saleroom finds and junk shop bargains.
“It was more of a preservation as there is so much glorious craftsmanship in the house and it is fantastically well-built. It’s the best survey I’ve ever had on a house it is that solid. So I modernised but without losing or eclipsing its knock out features,” she says.
The garden has also been a labour of love, and a challenge, as it sits on high, exposed ground.
She has re-designed the space and has introduced a rich and hardy variety of plants and flowers. There’s also a pond, a vegetable garden and she loves growing sweet peas.
Most of her gardening is done at weekends and in holidays thanks to a career change. Although Amanda was working locally as director of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford when she bought the house, two years later she landed the role of director of the British Film Institute.
Her role there has been a big success and she still has lots more plans to put into action, including a film club for every school to broaden young horizons and teach them that there’s more to movies than Disney.
This weekend she is busy with the 56th London Film Festival.
“I have a little flat in London but I still think of Prospect House as my main home and I have travelled back almost every weekend to spend time there.
“It is a wonderful family house. My daughters and their husbands use it too and I often have friends to stay,” she says.
She has also entertained wellknown actors, directors and composers there and, like her, they have been enchanted during their stay.
“It has been a getaway for many, including some very surprising guests from the film world keen for a quiet, confidential weekend away from the eyes of the public and press.
“They’ve enjoyed long walks on the moors and after a dinner cooked on the Aga, or “such a cute range” as the American guests say, an evening round the log fires.
“It never ceases to amuse me when they ask if they can go get the logs from the cellar. They love it.”
Amanda is finally selling now that both her daughters are based in the South and she has her first grandchild.
“People thought I was bonkers keeping the house when I got the job in London but I don’t regret it. I’ve loved it. The only reason I am selling is to buy somewhere closer to my grandchild because I want to be a hands-on grandmother, but I will miss the house. In fact, it took me 18 months to put it on the market and I live in terror of having made the wrong decision.
“To this day I wake up there and love the peace and quiet, the spectacular views down the valley with the clouds rolling down, the sound of the curlew. It is a magical place in summer and winter.”
ON SHOW: Prospect House is on the market for £499,950 and belongs to British Film Institute director Amanda Nevill. The property has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and stunning panoramic views down the valley towards Leeds. “It is a magical place in summer and winter,” says Amanda, who is selling to move closer to her first grandchild.