Folly at The Hollies adds a sense of history to family’s Georgian gem
THE ruin in Michael and Carole Johnson’s garden is a wonderful feature and its weathered stone and ecclesiastical arches prompt the obvious question “how old?”
The answer “21st century” is always a surprise for guests, who assumed it was once a medieval monastery.
“I came up with idea after going to the Chelsea Flower Show and seeing them there,” says Carole. “I wanted a feeling of enclosure in the garden and the ruins were perfect. I bought them from Redwood Stone and they’ve weathered really well, so much so that they do fool people who can’t believe they’re only a few years old.”
The folly, now known as The Abbey, also features a built-in fire and a barbecue and is one of the highlights of the stunning outside space created by keen gardener Carole.
The half acre grounds include a stream, a fountain, pond, herbaceous borders, lawns, several garden “rooms” with seating and a host of mature trees that were bought in from Wykeham Mature Plants, near Scarborough.
“It’s big but pretty easy to maintain because it’s mainly shrubs and lawns,” says Carole, who adds that the beautiful wisteria covering the front of the house helped persuade her to buy the property.
She and Michael, who founded the UK branch of children’s bed specialists Stompa, bought the house seven years ago.
It is a series of Georgian cottages joined together by the Victorians to create a five-bedroom house and a one-bedroom annexe.
“We lived out in the country before and I was reluctant to leave but when we came to view this I loved the wisteria and the house had a lovely warm feel to it, so we moved here and I’ve never regretted it,” says Carole.
The house needed updating and Michael and Carole spared no expense fitting new central heating, new kitchens, new bathrooms and redecorating. They also put in double doors that lead out onto a outdoor breakfast area, which is sheltered by a overhang from a bedroom above.
The property now has a reception hall, drawing room, dining room, family room, study, breakfast kitchen, utility room and cloakroom. Upstairs, there is a master bedroom with en-suite, guest bedroom with en-suite, two further bedrooms with en-suites, a fifth bedroom and a family bathroom.
The annexe, which brings in a rental income, has an open plan kitchen/living room and a bedroom with en-suite shower room. Outside, there is a private drive, parking and garaging.
The couple are moving to downsize, but plan to stay in the village.
“Our children have flown the nest and our grandchildren are growing up so we are buying somewhere smaller,” says Carole. “But we are staying in the village. It’s a wonderful place.”