New Hall: Ironically-named Â£1m Lancashire mansion dates back to 1665
In school, learning about the Great Plague of London of 1665 takes eager students back to the days of doctors in hooked iron masks, plague houses marked with a red cross, and bringing out your dead for the ghoulish death carts. It rightly feels like another world altogether. But nestled in the Lancastrian countryside on the banks of the River Ribble is a home built in the very same year.
Dating back to a time before pocket watches were invented and at a point when a budding young astronomer by the name of Isaac Newton was first gaining an appreciation of the stars, the ironically-named New Hall is a three-storey Grade II-listed property in Ribchester boasting waterfront views of (and fishing rights on) the charming nearby river, a range of period features, and four bedrooms: they called anything a hall in those days.
Originally a dower house - a home built for the widow of a land-owner - the property is decidedly more homely and less austere than its morbid origins suggest, although its grand age is still evident in its dark brooding wood, elegant masonry work, and regal beams - one of which dates back to the 13th century - which fill everything from the reception rooms to the kitchen.
Built two years after the birth of Oliver Cromwell just downstream from an ancient Roman ford and an 18th century bridge, the home is a veritable encyclopedia of history, boasting everything from hand-hewn floorboards to a hand-carved front door made from reclaimed oak baring the Talbot motif of the hunting dog.
Adding to the home's decadent atmosphere, a previous owner also had a range of furniture made in a style sympathetic to the home's contemporary era, lending a grandiose air to the place without giving off a musty museum-y air.
Far from dated, however, New Hall happily conforms to a bit of nominative determinism itself, belying a discreetly modern side in the form of a few truly 21st century features such as comprehensive under-floor heating, a modern wood-burning stove, and a covered outdoor seating area complete with eight-person hot tub. If that doesn't put the 'new' back into 'Newton', I don't know what will.
As is befitting, the home's gardens are typically elaborate, with rose-covered terrace walls and an abundance of daffodils, cherry blossoms, and narcissus adorning the manicured one-and-a-half acres as one approaches the house, whose porch features a bucolic Lancashire rose in the stonework.
Flagged with York stone throughout, the interior leads occupants through to the heart of the home in the form of the clean-cut kitchen. With a mullion window and inglenook fireplace as well as an Aga, there will be no problems keeping warm, with modern touches like a Belfast sink and Lacanche range bringing the 1600s and the 2000s into a happy marriage.
And I'm sure that's what the home's original widowed owner would want nothing less.
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