While £870 today seems a teeny sum for a grand period country house, in 1882 it was considered a small fortune. In fact, it was so much that the Episcopalian Church building the manse at Croachy by Farr, ran out of money.
Now called The Old Parsonage, the house has been owned by Trevor and Heather Colbourne for nearly a decade. During that time Trevor researched the history of the house.
“An Episcopalian Church was built here in 1868 then eight years later they needed to build accommodation for the vicar. I found in the library, an old advert inviting tradesmen to come and help build the new parsonage.
“From memory, the whole house cost £870 to build but they were short by £100 so had to seek public subscription and ask people to help pay for it to be finished.”
This beautifully appointed home was designed by architect Alexander Ross, who also designed and built Inverness Cathedral and many other churches and manses across the Highlands.
The choice of building material is also special as it has dressed Tarradale Sandstone and Peterhead Granite. The same granite was used in various famous venues including the Trafalgar Square Fountains, and The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore Palace where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are interred,
Situated within impressive gardens and only 13 miles from Inverness, the house has been lovingly restored and upgraded by the couple who see themselves as guardians or custodians of the parsonage and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to own it.
“We’d holidayed in Scotland and loved this area. When Trevor was offered a new role with HSBC in Inverness we jumped at the chance to move to Scotland. Our three children (now aged 29-31) had all left home and we were fed up with the daily commute,” said Heather.
The house was in reasonable shape but required a bit of upgrading.
“It needed new bathrooms and a kitchen, while an old workshop needed to be converted into a utility room. We used local tradesmen to carry out the building works while Heather was responsible for all the internal decoration,” said Trevor.
And a grand job she did for the house, on the market at offers over £535,000, has a lovely, warm and welcoming feel to it.
It’s full of charming period features which sit comfortably alongside more contemporary aspects.
Accommodation is spread over three floors and the flexible layout means it would suit a number of buyers, including those looking to offer B&B.
“We offered B&B for a few years and really enjoyed it. We had lovely guests ranging from a honeymoon couple to Australian opera singers and members of The Old Blind Dogs band. Memories of the opera singers singing in the house or the band jamming in the conservatory will stay with us for a long time,” said Heather.
The house flows well. The sitting room and dining room are to the front along with a magnificent sun room overlooking the landscaped gardens. With its 11 large windows, two Velux windows and doors giving direct access to the grounds, this room very much brings the outside inside and attracts a great deal of natural light. Features include exposed roof beams and a free standing wood burning stove.
A stable door leads to the kitchen which is fitted with a range of quality units, centre island, breakfast bar, integrated Siemens appliances and Rayburn. The spacious utility room is located off the kitchen and has ample space for white goods, double sink and leads to a convenient shower room.
The main entrance is via the vestibule which leads into a broad and welcoming hallway. Off the hall is an office/library with feature fireplace and inset wood burning stove.
A carpeted staircase leads to the mid landing where there is a rear facing double bedroom and modern bathroom.
On the upper level, the master bedroom with en-suite shower room, is a spacious double bedroom with dual aspect windows offering fine views.
There are a further three spacious double bedrooms, two with en-suite facilities and further accommodation on the attic floor which is accessed from the main staircase. There is a landing/study, storage space and two bedrooms all with coombed ceilings.
One of the joys of living in a house such as this is experiencing a sense of history.
The couple have retained original features such as servants’ bells which still work, beautiful ceiling coving, raised skirtings, window shutters and period fireplaces.
“In the kitchen, scribed on wooden panels, are children’s height measurements with the initials FM and BM and various dates. One minister’s name was Mackenzie. I understand the initials belong to his son, who was lost during WW1,” said Trevor.
The Old Parsonage occupies a fantastic spot in the countryside and enjoys fine views. While rural, it’s also handy for Inverness and the local amenities.
There’s ample parking and access to the garage, while the gardens are an absolute delight, thanks to their efforts.
They have transformed the garden, creating a pond with a bridge and a Japanese themed area. They also keep chickens and ducks, and in the past have bred rare wildfowl.
Looking back over their time here, Heather said: “It has been a real privilege to live here. Two of our children married in the local church and we had wedding guests stay and hosted barbecues for up to 100 people. It’s a great house for entertaining,” said Heather.
“My husband lost his parents last year and that made us realise we wanted to be nearer to our own family so are selling now to be closer to them. But we have loved every minute of our Highland adventure and are so glad we made the decision to spend a few years here.”
Contact: Strutt and Parker on 01463 719171