A case of to the manor re­tired

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

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

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