History and Restoration – Our projects for Self Catering in Derbyshire
Offcote Grange was built in the late 16th early 17th century as a small four room farmhouse. Over the years it was developed and added to – upwards, outwards and lengthways into a very large farmhouse and coaching stop of approximately 30 rooms, serving the London to Manchester route. Even in the 1600′s it provided self catering in Derbyshire.
The ancient ‘green roads’ used by this route are still walkable and connect Offcote through to Tissington and Sturston.
Offcote Grange is situated on what is called common land this is administered by the ‘Lord of the Manor’ this is whoever lives at The Green Hall in Ashbourne. It is one of the, if not the largest areas of common land still surviving and if your land borders it then you are allowed to graze your livestock on it.
Built of old hand made red bricks with Staffordshire blue roof tiles The Grange originally had small oak mullioned windows, over the years as the property was enlarged these small windows were replaced with large elegant Georgian windows, some of which still have the original internal shutters in the downstairs rooms.Inside on the ground floor are the original stone floors, with oak floors now replacing the original upstairs lime ash floors of the house. These lime ash floors were too heavy for the building and in order to improve its stability they unfortunately were removed.
Many of the wonderful revealed timbers in the house were second hand to the Grange even at its time of construction in the 16th century, having been re-used from old ships or ancient timber framed houses. These are clearly visable in the main house.The ceilings are a mixture of pine and oak beams with King post and Queen post trusses in the roof of the Grange. There are a lovely mix of staircase types, with character fireplaces thoughout the house ranging from Hopton Stone surrounds (a local stone full of fossils) with cast iron and Victorian tiled inners to large brick arched, Stone lintel or Timber framed inglenooks.
Around 1970 Offcote Grange then owned by a landlord was tenanted, but allowed to go into a very poor state of repair with only part of it being lived in. At this point in time it was lived in by the Seals family.The Grange stood empty for 7 years and deteriorated greatly, a sale was then forced in order to try and save the building and at this point this beautiful old farmhouse was bought at auction in 1979 by the present owners Pat and Chris Walker. The Grange was in such a poor state of disrepair that it had a demolition order placed on it, the new owners had to agree to apply to the Secretary of State in order to remove this demolition order and to be allowed to restore the property.Restoration has been a time consuming hobby and has been done by Pat and Chris in between full time work. Thirty two years later, 2 children and many distasters completion is at last on the horizon with Billys Bothy ready for letting at the end of 2004 and the main house by around 2014 – give or take a year, it always takes longer than planned.
Hillside Croftwas purchased by Pat and Chris in 1980 again in a very derelict condition. An original sandstone farmhouse built in 1709 and a grade II listed building it had not been lived in for over 100 years and looked like it. Cattle and chickens now occupied it. A beautiful building with lots of potential set in six and a half acres of overgrown fields and woodland and deserving of restoration.
With ancient oak beams throughout (even in the showers), revealed stone and part timbered walls, inglenook fireplaces with log stoves, traditional leaded lights in quaint stone mullioned windows Hillside Croft is a delight, full of character and charm.
Eleven years after purchase and with a total rebuild by Pat and Chris, Hillside Croft was ready for occupation, and our first visitors. The gardens now landscaped with two well stocked fish ponds it was a delight to see the transformation. Now fully restored ,fitted and furnished to an extremely high standard, it is a delightful luxury self catering Derbyshire holiday cottage now ready and waiting for visitors to enjoy.
Our latest project at Hillside Croft has been the replanting of an orchard to the front of the cottage for guests, the final phase will be the building of garages, a games room and sauna for guests to use for relaxation.
Billys Bothy our 2nd cottage is now completed after total restoration within a timescale of 2 years, from a converted farm building to a luxury 5 bedroomed self catering cottage. Completion date was December 22nd 2004 to the minute. A beautiful long cottage built of handmade red bricks and Staffordshire blue roof tiles it has elegant arched windows over what used to be the window openings to an ancient pig sty. Brickwork has been left revealed where possible to enhance the many features. The lovely beams have been revealed in the ceilings and again the lime ash floors have been replaced with oak boards. The doorframes are made of solid oak surrounds giving character to the cottage.
All the properties have been restored during the same time frame, moving from one to the other as work needed carrying out to prevent collapse and further deterioration, a logistical nightmare but hopefully nearing the end.This venture will take a lifetime of hard work, time and money, a real labour of love- and for those of you thinking of doing the same- it is hard work, sometimes soul destroying, money swallowing, back aching but at the end if you survive the end satisfaction and feeling of achievement is brilliant.2008 we have just purchased 9 acres of land that used to belong to the house many years ago, this means our property is now surround by our fields- this is somehting Chris has always wanted so another dream has come to fruition.
We hope that you will enjoy staying at one or all of our properties and would ask that you give them all the love and care that old historic properties deserve.
If you enjoy the relaxation of Self Catering in Derbyshire and the Peak District then look no further than Offcote Grange Cottage Holidays.
Pat and Chris Walker
Offcote Grange, Offcote