Grand Designs in Cumbria


A few years back, my ex and I had designs on buying Blencowe Hall. Based in the fabulous, unassuming hamlet of Unthank, outside Penrith, the hall presented itself with a fabulous choice of potential. It was up for sale and going to auction.

It was perfectly habitable though a bit of a sprucing up would not have gone a miss. A U-shaped building around a walled courtyard, for me, the hall could have been a home, where I could have had my pottery, an office from which to work, warehousing for newroomsonline plus there were buildings which could be converted into holiday cottages, an orchard with room to be self sufficient, a delightful duck pond, its own baptismal pool and ruined chapel, a trout stream and an enormous former dairy barn (I think), which in my opinion could have made a classic string of units for artists. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

The hall was ancient – dating back to 1590, so ancient that its towers were no longer safe to live in, pock marked with battle scars, Blencowe was about as dreamy a dwelling as you could imagine. If only you had hair 100 feet long up which a knight in shining armour could climb!

Because for us, that’s all it was, a fairytale. It needed a serious business plan to be written and approved before any bank would have backed us to the necessary tune and with time fiercely against us, we had no choice but to let it slide.

So feast your eyes upon this.

Blencowe Hall

I love it. I am told it is a prize winning restoration, which is such a relief because I’d also heard a rumour that during the conversion the foundations had shifted and this grand, ancient listed structure was in danger of complete collapse.

I love the discreet concealment in the left tower, the vast expanses of glass. I love that it appears that both towers are now in full functioning order and it’s interesting reading English Heritage’s take on the restoration.

I used to watch Grand Designs without fail every week, my favourite being the Yorkshire Castle, but ultimately forget which night it’s on, can’t get 4 on Demand on my Mac and miss it. I just hope Blencowe was documented by the programme and if anyone knows it to be the case, I’d very much appreciate hearing from you.


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