Want to rent a Jacobean manor for the price of a one-bed London flat? Now's your chance

·4 min read
Gainford Hall, currently undergoing major restoration (Raby Estates)

A derelict Jacobean Manor isn't something you come across too often even in Britain, a country dotted with historic ruins and ancient buildings. 

Gainford Hall, in Gainford, Country Durham, however, has a long and chequered history, and until this year was abandoned and semi-derelict. 

In March, restoration work began on the unique property, funded by new houses that will be built on nearby land belonging to Raby Estates. 

Some of the interior - pre-restoration. (Raby Esates)

The Hall has now gone on the rental market after years on the Historic England at-risk register. 

Gainford Hall was built by the Reverend John Cradock in 1594. He was the Vicar of Gainford, a 'possibly corrupt cleric' according to one report, who was arrested by his enemies mid-service in Durham Cathedral.

He was so disliked, it was thought he may have been murdered by his wife and the local children were known for singing “Cradock! Cradock! You stink like an old haddock!” at him as he passed by.

After his death, the Hall was occupied by tenant farmers, and by 1846 the un-repaired building had become dilapidated.

Beautiful wallpaper in the ancient Hall. (Raby Estates)
It's not haunted. Apparently. (Raby Estates)

By then owned by the Duke of Cleveland, some restoration was attempted in the 1840s.

“Much of the restoration work involves the roof and we need to be doing that during the spring and the summer,” said Duncan Peake, the chief executive of Raby Estates earlier this year.

 “As restoration works go on, we will look at future uses of the hall. It is a Grade I listed building and whatever future use has to be sensitive to the heritage significance.

Part of the estate is the converted coach-house, now a residence. (Raby Estates)

“It is a building that is quite peculiar. The intention was to have a top floor in the attic, but that never got built.

“Residential is one of the obvious options...but because of the internal arrangement that would be quite challenging: there’s no hallway, and every room on every floor links with another room.”

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The six-storey building is now on the market with Savills and has 'potential for eight bedrooms, two large reception rooms, kitchen, pantry, attic and basement space. It still has many of its original features, including a full height porch, split-level interior, original fireplaces, central chimney stacks and plasterwork.'

Grade one listed Gainford Hall sits on the sprawling Raby Estate.

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"Gainford Hall has remained untouched for over 100 years so its renovation and rental offers a chance to live in a wonderful historic home' the owners explain. 

"And with the property hitting the market while work is being done, the lucky tenant can have hands-on input into the styles and designs used in the property."

The old coach house has already been converted for residential use and the 17th-century dovecote in the grounds is Grade II listed and also a Building at Risk.

Restoration work is most definitely taking place. (Raby Estates)

"This project seeks to maintain as many of the Hall’s original features as possible" says Raby Estates.

The work is expected to be complete by early 2022 and it will then be available as a residential let.

"Gainford Hall is a magnificent Jacobean manor house built in 1603" says the brochure. "As a Grade I listed building, it falls within the top 2.5% of England’s 400,000 listed buildings, reflecting its importance.  

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"It has not seen any major restoration for over 100 years, and it is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, reflecting its need for significant and extensive repairs before any of its fabric is lost."

Investment in restoration is around £14m - and the rental will be set at £3,500 a month. 

In London, that gets you a one-bed flat in Bishopsgate. So for full use of a 16th century listed Jacobean manor house, that seems entirely reasonable. 

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