The couple who are restoring a beautiful Georgian home in Bolton-le-Sands
PUBLISHED: 14:33 01 October 2012 | UPDATED: 21:59 20 February 2013
It's our most northerly vineyard, but this Bolton-le-Sands house has much more to offer, including Jane Eyre's bed. Sue Riley reports. Photography by Kirsty Thompson
The privacy afforded by Mount Pleasant is what first attracted Paul Rogers and Samantha Wilson to their new home; its vineyard may have had something to do with their decision making but they insist not.
Neither of us are green fingered, said Paul, so a gardener and the former owner of the house are both helping out so they can make wine this autumn. The vineyard, the most northerly in England, featured on television last year when wine expert Oz Clarke visited, but the property has so many other attractions.
Its an imposing residence with beautiful sash windows and shutters, wonderful views, huge barn, garden surrounded by 12ft stone walls creating its own microclimate, 13 acres of land and all at the end of a mile long country track with just a few cows and horses for company. It even has its own belvedere, a tower-like structure designed to overlook Morecambe Bay.
Yet the M6 is just a few miles away. We were looking for somewhere secluded, we like the privacy that comes with quite a lot of land, said Paul. The house with its seven bedrooms, two reception rooms and two bathrooms offers a first family home for Paul and Sam, her two daughters Danielle, 15, and Laura, 11, two ponies, a pig called Poppy and two cats they inherited from the former owner.
The couple met in 2008 through work - Paul owns a structural engineering company and hotel in the Peak District - and he relocated to Lancashire last autumn. A month later they saw Mount Pleasant just outside the north Lancashire village of Bolton-le-Sands and in February they moved in. To add to their happiness, they recently became engaged and plan to marry next year once the house is completed.
One of their first jobs was to install a new central heating system and solar tubes. The eco-friendly system cost 10,000 but because it takes heat from the air it involves no utility bills. Sam, 40, said that one of the quirky things was that the radiators barely get warm although the rooms heat up nicely.
After they got the heating sorted they set about taking the house parts of which date to the 1700s, although the main part, barn and belevedere were built in the 1860s back to its Georgian splendour. Underneath layers of paint and concrete Paul found original floorboards in the hallway and in the snug he discovered stone flags. I painstakingly chipped away at the concrete, Paul said. After two months we decided to get a grit blaster in! Sealed and varnished, the Georgian stone flags look as perfect as the day they were first laid.
The 80,000 renovation project is only half done and they are trying to use local contractors whenever possible - McGaffigans in the village is making them a specially designed wrought iron grate for the woodburner in the snug and local craftsman Steven Kennedy has been doing all the decorating, although Paul is pretty hands on when it comes to DIY.
The couple are scouring antiques markets and reclamation yards to find suitable fixtures and fittings, although the majority of the antique furniture is from Pauls extensive collection. One of his favourite purchases since they have moved in is a huge brass lantern they have put outside the barn directly opposite the house. Its one of my favourite things, the dull light it gives off, he said.
One of his quirkier pieces though can be found in the guest bedroom. Its Jane Eyres bed, he proudly says. He bought it six years ago from an antique dealer friend who got it from the BBC where it was used in the TV dramatisation. Paul points out a piece of singed fabric, Thats from where the bed was set on fire, he says.
Next door is the master bedroom, study, and a bathroom which the couple hope to knock through into an adjoining room if they get planning consent and install a rolltop bath and complementary fittings. In the upstairs bedrooms they also hope to reveal all the fireplaces bricked up over the years. Fortunately the previous owner kept four fireplaces and stored them in the barn. There are 12 chimneys on the roof and we have only found four fireplaces so far, said Paul.
In the main lounge they plan to put carpet down so the beauty of the majestic fireplace will take pride of place. Leading from the lounge is a large, sunny conservatory complete with grape vine growing overhead.
They plan to paint the interior of the house in heritage Farrow & Ball colours and have used shades of London Stones and Elephants Breath in the hall, lounge and snug so far. Another major plan is to completely revamp the kitchen, reveal the old stone flags which are slightly visible underneath yet another layer of concrete and put in freestanding furniture. Off the kitchen are two original pantries which in the short term they plan to use for storage.
Paul, 41, has already cleared the front of the house of all cables and satellite dishes and they plan to repaint it white with a bold Oxford Blue for the door. Theyre not even thinking about what to do with the barn, currently used as stables for the girls two ponies. This place is going to take so much time and money. Its going to take a lot of thought before we do anything to it, says Paul. Their only plan to change the outside space is to reinstall the pond and mini-waterfall by the house which is currently bricked up.
Paul and Sam have a lot more work to do and hope to complete it by March, but judging by what theyve done so far the end results will be worth it. It has a nice feel about it, a nice vibe, said Paul. So is this their forever home? For many years to come it will bebut it would be nice to live in the Lake District but we are not going to be moving anywhere else just yet! laughs Paul.