This enchanting low-built sandstone house is situated in the bucolic village of Kirkoswald in Cumbria. Unfolding across two storeys and unusually wide for its central village location, the house dates from the mid-18th-century and retains a number of its original features, such as exposed beams and charming fireplaces. Internally, the spaces extend over 2,500 sq ft and have been sensitively reimagined, celebrating its historic charm and Grade II listing. Externally, tiered gardens unfold over multiple lawns and offer panoramic views of the Eden Valley and River Raven.
Setting the Scene
Built in the mid-18th-century, with later 19th-century additions, the house is constructed from red sandstone and a Welsh slate roof. Designated as Grade II-listed in 1984, it is among several buildings in the village with specific architectural importance. Kirkoswald is a charming, picturesque village, with remains of its market past found among its cobbled streets and fine Georgian buildings. The village derives its name from the church of St Oswald, the King of Northumbria, who, according to legend, toured the pagan North with St Aidan in the 7th century. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The main entrance to the home is via a pathway flanked by established flower beds, leading up to a door surrounded by a near century-old wisteria. Entry is to the main hallway where original oak floorboards run underfoot, and walls have been finished in calming, neutral Off White by Farrow & Ball. Adjacent to the entrance hall is a spacious reception room. Currently used as a snug, this room is separate from the main entertaining spaces. Timber beams run overhead, and a wood-burning stove has been incorporated into one of the original fireplaces.
Opposite the reception room is another large living area. The focal point of the room is a marvellous 19th-century cooking range, which is flanked by an original sandstone fire surround. Notched timber beams and sash picture windows are found here and throughout the house. Through the main reception room sits the spacious kitchen and dining room. Sensitively designed, light-coloured wooden cabinets and walls painted French Grey by Farrow & Ball complement dark sandstone flooring. A black, two-door Aga provides a focal point for the room, and an electric oven and hob add a 21st-century practicality to the space. There is a large pantry to the rear of the ground floor. At the back entrance of the house is a boot room with a WC; painted in Breakfast Room Green by Farrow & Ball, it is the perfect space to come in and take off muddy wellies after a long walk.
A turned staircase of solid sandstone slabs leads to the first floor of the house. There is the spacious primary bedroom at the far end of the plan, with built-in storage and dual-aspect views, overlooking the village at the front of the room and the surrounding countryside to the rear. A large en suite bathroom accompanies the space, with a beautiful vaulted ceiling and views over the gardens. Adjacent, there are three additional bedrooms, all of very good size with picture-perfect views of the charming village. Also on this floor is a large family bathroom with a bath and separate shower and a large linen storeroom.
Accessed via a side return, at the furthest end of the plot is a good-sized galley room, which has been utilised as a gym.
The Great Outdoors
Externally, a patio leads to a raised lawn, which opens to the expansive main lawn with well-established beds and breathtaking, far-reaching vistas of the surrounding countryside. The current owners have utilised the far-end of the plot with well-established vegetable gardens and a high decking space, a perfect spot for an evening drink or alfresco dining. There is a small outbuilding near the house for storing gardening necessities.
Out and About
The civil parish of Kirkoswald is located in the Lower Eden Valley of Cumbria, an area awash with natural beauty and rolling green spaces. In a detailed survey in 2005, the Office for National Statistics stated that the Eden District has the second-lowest proportion of land taken up by roads of any district in England. The village has one main street with two pubs, The Crown Inn and Fetherston Arms (perfect for a bite to eat following a Sunday walk), there is a local convenience store for life’s necessities, a post office and a well-attended primary school. Kirkoswald is a frequent winner of the best-kept village competition and has been a winner of ‘Cumbria in Bloom’.
Locally is renowned Askham Hall with a Michelin Star restaurant and health barn for those seeking a tranquil break. Nearby Penrith has an abundance of amenities, including retail, dining and schooling; there is an abundance of well-noted state and public schools in the area.
A fast train to London Euston runs regularly from Penrith, and the immediate area is served by nearby Lazonby & Kirkoswald station, with regular services to London Kings Cross. The Scottish Border is some 30 minutes drive.
Council Tax Band: E
The origins of the village’s name come from an early-English translation of the ‘Church of St Oswald’. St Oswald was the king and patron saint of Northumbria, and his body is said to have been taken through the village after he was killed in battle against the pagan king Penda of Merci in 642ad. St Oswald’s Church was consecrated in his memory in roughly the 12th-century. Lying on the southern edge of the village and overlooking the River Eden, St Oswald’s Church is unique in having a 19th-century bell tower, which was said to have been used to summon villagers to church and to warn them against approaching Scottish raiders.
One of the most splendid buildings in the village is The College, aptly named after the days when St Oswald’s Church was collegiate. Built in 1450 as a Pele Tower, it was converted into a college for priests in the 1520s, only to be dissolved in 1547 (following the Dissolution of Monasteries and Collages Act). The college eventually became home to the Fetherstonhaugh family, who previously lived at nearby Kirkoswald Castle. The remains of the castle are still in the town today and can be seen from local towpaths.
Following a storm in 1808, roughly 540 Northumbrian stycas (small coins) and a silver trefoil ornament were found in an uprooted tree. Known as the Kirkoswald Hoard, the treasure is estimated to be from the 9th century. It is thought to include coins issued by the Kings of Northumbria, as well as by the Archbishops of York. Soon after its discovery, the hoard was split up and divided. The remaining ornament is now on display in the British Museum, with the rest going to private collections.