Property Market - Bank Villa B&B in Masham goes up for sale
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 August 2016
An overnight stay at a Yorkshire B&B changed the lives of one house-hunting couple, as Martin Pilkington reports.
When work dragged Liz Howard Barker and her husband Graham away from Yorkshire they took the county with them in the form of a subscription to Yorkshire Life, and it was an advertisement in the magazine that led them to settle in Masham, North Yorkshire when family circumstances drew them back in 2002. ‘Another property fell through, and we’d seen this place advertised and been interested. As it was being run as a B&B we booked a room for the night to have a look over the place. It felt 100 per cent right as soon as we walked through the door. Next morning we decided to buy it,’ she explains.
Having sold their house down south, the Howard Barkers needed to move in faster than the then owners wanted to move out. ‘They had bookings, so we offered to honour them, and 14 years later we’re still running the business. Some people who stayed in the first few weeks have become great friends and return time and again. They, like many returning guests, say it’s like coming home. It was never our intention to run a B&B when we bought it, but we’ve had so much fun.’
Bank Villa is an elegantly proportioned Georgian country home whose original features escaped mid-20th century modernisers. ‘We have had people from buildings trusts come out to view it, and one lady got very excited and brought a load more who were positively drooling when they saw it,’ Liz says.
In their 14 years living in the house and running it as a business Liz and Graham have made many improvements inside, but never to the detriment of that Georgian style. ‘The front of the building is listed, so we’ve not changed that of course, but we’ve redone lots of things like bathrooms. But you’d not want to make any significant changes, it’s such a lovely house that you can’t see what could make it that much better than it is already,’ she says.
Running a B&B in the house threw up a few surprises over the years, like trying to dress some large American visitors over for a wedding and whose luggage had not arrived. But Liz and Graham have loved the experience. ‘You’d be amazed how many people that you’d think would stop in top hotels prefer to use a good, family-run B&B, for example lots of people you’d recognise from films and television who come because they prefer the homely feel, the personal touch of what is a family home.
They’ve had what for a fine old Georgian house are some slightly incongruous moments too. ‘A Japanese lady getting married nearby dressed in her gorgeous traditional Japanese wedding garments here,’ recalls Liz, ‘And we had a lovely hen party whose members all arrived as Flamenco dancers. And once we had 15 Elvis Presleys! It was for a 50th birthday celebration for a mad-keen Elvis fan. The chap’s wife booked the two of them in, but also made arrangements for his friends on the quiet, a whole house party. I had no idea about the theme until all 15 guests, male and female, came downstairs dressed as Elvis!’
Liz and Graham are retiring from the business now, not without reluctance because of the pleasure the house has given them. ‘Whoever purchases it will be buying a lifestyle as well as the fabric of the building,’ says Liz. ‘Masham itself is such a friendly and community-oriented town. This is a beautiful house in a beautiful area – plus you get to meet fantastic people and have a wonderful time with them.’
For property details contact Carter Jonas, Regent House, 13-15 Albert Street, Harrogate, HG1 1JX. 01423 523423, carterjonas.co.uk