The Town Head estate in Windermere goes on sale for £5.95 million

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 July 2014

Town Head House

Town Head House

not Archant

The family occupying one of Lakeland’s exceptional properties is leaving after 200 remarkable years

Town Head HouseTown Head House

In a region full of remarkable properties, Town Head House and its 105 acre estate stands out from the crowd and not just because, at £5.95 million, it is thought to be the most expensive property on sale in the Lake District.

This glorious home, in the old county palatine of Lancashire, is steeped in history having been the continuous home to various strands of the Townley family for the last 200 years.

The Town Head estate, which hugs the southern tip of Windermere, dates back to the 1400s but the home’s distinctive Georgian wings were added in the early 1800s when William Townley, a high sheriff of Lancashire, bought it as a hunting lodge. When he died in the 1850s the estate passed to Edmund, a clergyman and landowner.

His successor was Edmund James and it was his brother, Colonel Charles Townley, who made history in 1849 by riding 820 miles from Belgrade to Constantinople in 131 hours with a vital dispatch from the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston.

Town Head HouseTown Head House

The journey took him five days and eleven hours and during the trip he was thrown twice and broke open an old wound but he was only out of the saddle for six hours. With the sort of grit that built an empire, he handed the dispatch intact to the ambassador.

Later heirs made Town Head House a welcome retreat for literary figures. Author Arthur Ransome fished there as a family guest while John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter were occasional visitors. The children’s author bought pigs from the estate and she presented the Townleys with a carved ivory pig which is still among the vast collection of mementoes in Town Head.

In 1987 Charles Townley inherited the house from his parents after they retired to another family home. He and his wife Roslyn ran the family antiques business from part of the house but after 31 years they want to downsize.

Their three children, Victoria, Richard and James, have grown up and while they don’t want the estate split apart, they also feel it would be unfair to leave it to one of their offspring.

Town Head HouseTown Head House

The property nearly sold back in 2011 but the purchase stalled at the last moment. At the time, daughter Victoria was quoted as saying: ‘Mum’s always wanted a cottage surrounded by roses and Dad has just wanted a little fisherman’s hut.’

The decision to sell was obviously a hard one. ‘Sometimes I sit out on the boathouse terrace, looking over the lake, and I think “what am I doing?”’ said Roslyn.

Charles added: ‘It would be nice if it was bought by a couple with children, or who were about to have children. We don’t want people to be intimidated by our history. They should make their own.’

Architectural importance

The nine-bedroom Town Head House is Grade II listed and is of architectural and historical importance, predominately Georgian with parts of the original building being Elizabethan.

There are several self-contained cottages as well as formal gardens, parkland, woods and a traditional wet dock boathouse. For full details contact Andrew Holmes at Carter Jonas in Kendal. 01539 722 592.

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