Lake District Properties - Ambleside Golf Clubhouse
PUBLISHED: 12:19 30 August 2013
Five decades after two couples clubbed together to buy an unusual home at Ambleside, it’s the end of the commune. Sue Riley reports
A 50-year love affair with a secluded Lakeland house is coming to an end for two people who helpedto set up their own ‘mini commune’ in the 1960s.
Pete and Joan Deeley and Monica and Bryan Marsh bought the Edwardian house on the flanks of Loughrigg in 1963 after launching the area’s first climbing school. They had met at a party in Lancaster a couple of years before and decided to go into business before pooling their resources – £5,000 – to buy the property which they instantly fell in love with. The house certainly suited the couples to a tee, fitting perhaps, as their house is the former clubhouse of Ambleside Golf Club. It even has the first tee of the nine hole golf course at the front of their 1.7 acre garden.
With no official contract apart from a will, they set up a joint bank account and all contributed to it for the best part of the next 50 years. ‘In order to buy a house we decided to stick together,’ Pete said. ‘We had been working together for a few years and had sorted out any difficulties.
‘I remember it vividly the first time I saw this place, I said I could spend the rest of my days here, it was the most magical place. If four people are going to live like we did you have to pool everything. The bank account still has four names on it. We have never fallen out about money.’
Within the last three years Pete’s wife Joan and Monica’s husband Bryan have died – within six months of each other – and the remaining pair have decided to sell up and split the money. They hope to buy two flats near to each other in Ambleside.
The house, Pine Rigg, is well off the beaten track, up a half-mile bridle path where the only passers-by are ramblers. It looks out on to the Fairfield Horseshoe and as stunning Lakeland views go, this has to be one of the best.
Originally constructed in 1904, the clubhouse was changed to a residential house in 1956. The only real changes the couples made to the property was to put in a partition creating two sitting rooms as there would have been when it was first built – rooms for the ladies and gentlemen golfers – and to install heating and electricity. The trees they planted as seedlings now tower 50 feet above the house giving it a sense of privacy.
Sitting in their lounge where the golfers used to keep their clubs and looking over to Lakeland hills, Pete, 79, said the day-to-day upkeep was getting a bit much for them. ‘Just cutting the grass is a major operation, things you shrug off in your 30s and 40s but once you need a sleep every lunchtime it is tricky!’
Although Pete is one of the most active pensioners you are likely to meet, the grass mowing is a four-mile walk which he does on a weekly basis, but not on a Wednesday as that’s the day he plays bass guitar in a band in Windermere during summer.
Harsh winters in recent years have taken their toll and in 2011 the Mountain Rescue team had to carry food up to them because of the icy conditions on the bridlepath. Fittingly Bryan and Pete were founding members of Langdale Mountain Rescue.
‘We’ve been referred to as ‘the commune’,’ Pete recalls, and Monica, 77, remembers how the men used to share one suit for big occasions. ‘There was one suit known as the ‘interview suit’, so they couldn’t have interviews on the same day!’ she said. The two couples even used to go on holidays together, particularly during the days when they all wanted to go on canal boat trips.
Their dreams of a climbing school quickly came to an end and over the years all four worked to ensure the bills were paid: Monica became assistant personnel officer for Farley Health Products in Kendal, Joan was in charge of the council’s education office in Kendal, Bryan was an architectural assistant and an editor for Penguin books and Peter worked for Ambleside builders GH Pattinson.
‘It was not all sweetness and light, there was the odd domestic here and there,’ Pete said but both he and Monica agree they have no regrets. ‘It has made everything much easier, when redundancies happened we had three other people working so not a worry,’ said Monica. Pete says because they were never earning much money they never had children and ‘then we got a bit old.’ He said: ‘It was all a struggle to keep our heads above water but we had a great life.’
‘I’ve lived here so long I can’t think what it’s going to be like. I love this place, it’s a superb place to live,’ said Monica.
*The house is on sale with Carter Jonas at offers around £750,000. There is potential for either an extension and/or a replacement of the original building subject to planning consent. For more details go to www.carterjonas.co.uk or ring 01539 722592.