It is always nice to be shown around a house by its owner, but of course they will usually have their own agenda and that may not be to share the history of the house with you (though be warned at other houses so many family names will be mentioned that after a few rooms you’ll be forgiven for zoning out and asking any question you can summon to return the discussion to the topic of architecture and furniture).
At Brockfield our tour was by the husband of the descendant of the family which bought the house in the 1950s. He is an art dealer of Yorkshire impressionist paintings (known as the Staithes Group) and he exhibits his wares throughout the house. D, being arty, really liked looking at the art.
I must admit, I was there to see the staircase, which curls up the circular wall of the oval entrance hall in all its cantilevered glory, past a large Venetian window.
The hall really is the reason to visit this house , the other rooms on show being:
- a lounge;
- sitting room;
- office (in the jutting out bit on the left of the picture);
- a dining room made out of what was a toilet block, previously a store cupboard (which explains the visible piping and near ceiling light window, which lit the toilet); and
- three upstairs bedrooms.
It looks like the hallway, with elegant grey walls, has recently been decorated.
As the present owner inherited fairly recently (in the house’s history – it looks 1750-1770 but was actually begun on 1804 using more modest plans than originally proposed), their August openings are down to inheritance tax offer in lieu exemptions.
The architect of his house was John Carr’s pupil, Peter Atkinson. I really must do some more research on John Carr (who was responsible for Fairfax House and Sutton Park amongst others).
The gardens outside are lawned, with a ha ha and fields beyond inhabited with cattle. The landscape betrays the proximity of the house to York – only 6 miles away – city life almost entirely forgotten but for the sliver of A road visible on the horizon. This house is a good lesson in a borrowed landscape for a modest house.
I suspect someone with a sense of humour lives here given the fox in the garden.
In contrast to modesty when it comes to the land one owns, the embellishment on the fireplace in the sitting room which was added after original construction, we were told cost more than laying the entire 1 mile drive. So someone liked a bit of bling and extravagance at this house.
When visited: July 2012
House * out of 5: ***
Garden * out of 5: *