A mitre fine ren­o­va­tion job

GOOD LIFE: A for­mer re­tire­ment home for bish­ops was a costly ren­o­va­tion pro­ject but its prob­lems were bless­ings in dis­guise. Sharon Dale re­ports. Pic­tures by Jonathan Gawthorpe

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Homes -

LTHOUGH it has been a home for well over 100 years, Ruth and Rob Penty are thrilled to be the first own­ers to oc­cupy their Vic­to­rian prop­erty. It was built by the Church of Eng­land in 1894 to house re­tired bish­ops be­fore be­ing bought by Rob’s fore­bears in the early 1920s and then let.

“Rob in­her­ited it from his fa­ther. It was part of the fam­ily farm and al­though it’s an old house it’s nice to think we’re the first own­ers to live here. That feels quite spe­cial,” says Ruth.

The cou­ple, who have four chil­dren, were keen to move to the prop­erty, which has a prime po­si­tion over­look­ing the pretty vil­lage of Bolton Percy, near Tad­caster.

It was big­ger with more land and sim­ply needed mod­erni­sa­tion, or so they thought.

Af­ter tak­ing up the floor­boards, they re­alised that the wa­ter ta­ble was just an inch be­low. Dig­ging down and fill­ing in to cre­ate solid foun­da­tions cost them £35,000 and blew their bud­get. They were also faced with an un­ex­pected £15,000 bill for new drainage and an­other £5,000 to re­pair the tall chim­neys.

“It was a big shock though we were re­lieved that the house was still stand­ing,” says Ruth. “It also meant that we were able to put in un­der­floor heat­ing on the ground floor and that has been fan­tas­tic be­cause it has made a very cold house much warmer and more eco­nom­i­cal to heat.

They also in­su­lated the walls and their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency mea­sures have paid off, re­duc­ing the £400 a month they were spend­ing on oil. The un­der­pin­ning also opened up the op­por­tu­nity of cre­at­ing an an­nexe us­ing bricks from the old out­build­ings.

“The idea was to use it as a hol­i­day let to cre­ate an in­come to help us sus­tain what we re­ally want, which is the ‘Good Life’,” says Ruth, who has made a start by buy­ing six short horn cat­tle and res­cu­ing some bat­tery hens. Rob, an IT ex­pert, also farms 200 acres of arable land.

Al­though newly-built, the hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion, which has two en-suite bed­rooms and a large open plan liv­ing space, is full of re­claimed items, in­clud­ing old quarry tiles and a sign from the back of a 1920s Penty’s grain trailer. It is aimed at fam­i­lies with chil­dren and so all the sur­faces are wipe clean.

“It means you can re­lax and not worry about them wreck­ing any­thing. Ev­ery­thing in here is clean­able or re­place­able. It’s why I bought leather so­fas and wi­peable table­cloths and I painted the bot­tom of the bed­room walls mag­no­lia so I can eas­ily re­paint them,” says Ruth.

Their own home is also fam­ily friendly with a large kitchen/din­ing room with sep­a­rate pantry that Ruth and Rob fash­ioned from two re­cep­tion rooms and a cor­ri­dor.

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