Our House: Inside the home of Huddersfield’s aristocracy

HERE is a chance to own a breathtaking slice of Huddersfield’s history.

HERE is a chance to own a breathtaking slice of Huddersfield’s history.

Blake Lea house in Marsden is a home with aristocratic connections – and it is right on the National Trust’s doorstep.

The stunning property, tucked away in a secluded spot is the Yorkshire home of Lord Dartmouth – a man with royal connections who is moving south to pursue political ambitions.

The Colne Valley landowner fell in love with the house while looking for a base in the area 20 years ago.

He enlisted interior designers to bring the 200-year-old country pile up to date while maintaining its character.

Lord Dartmouth’s family have a long-standing history in the Huddersfield area and he was keen to set up home there.

He said: "My family used to own Woodsome Hall – which is now the golf course – and that came into the family in the 18th century through marriage to Elizabeth Kaye.

"The Kayes go back to time immemorial and founded King James’s School. The family have been in the area for quite some time and still own quite a lot of land.

"I wasn’t brought up here but did spend a lot of time at the family estate in Slaithwaite. I was definitely keen to return to my roots and have a base in the area."

The peer and politician, who is the 10th Earl of Dartmouth, spent much of his life in London and overseas but made a big impact on the Huddersfield area.

His Slaithwaite-based company, West Riding Cable, was behind an innovative multi-million pound bid to provide Kirklees with cable television.

He was also a member of Huddersfield University’s governing body.

As he was spending more time in the area, Lord Dartmouth started looking for a base close to the family estate.

"Marsden was ideal for me as it’s close to Slaithwaite, he said.

"It’s also a very pretty village. People think of Last of the Summer Wine as being filmed in Holmfirth but much is filmed in Marsden and you can see why as it’s so beautiful.

"I was staying at the Hey Green Hotel and saw this house nearby with a ‘for sale sign’. It had marvellous views and was absolutely perfect for what I wanted."

Lea
Lea

The double fronted stone-built house is believed to be a couple of hundred years old.

It had laid derelict until 30 years ago, when a previous owner had a completely new home built behind the old facade.

Lord Dartmouth, a member of the late Princess Diana’s extended family, says: "It had all the modern conveniences, but still had that very pretty outside.

"It also had quite high ceilings, which is unusual as most houses of that size in Huddersfield are very low.

"When I bought the house I took a lot of trouble refurbishing it. It was quite dated, done in a ranch-style with a lot of plastic wood which was the fashion.

"It took about 18 months to do everything and I was very involved with the interior design work."

Lord Dartmouth was keen to retain the traditional feel of his four bedroom, three bathroom home.

Lea
Lea

He made the most of the high ceilings by having ornate ceiling cornices added to every room, picked out beautifully by rich splashes of colour.

The sunny yellow walls of the dining room are dominated by a superb decorative wall moulding, chosen especially by Lord Dartmouth.

"I visited a company called WP Stead in Barnsley, where I found this moulding of a lady eating grapes,’’ he said.

"I thought it was nice to have something that really stood out in the room."

Lord Dartmouth wanted his home to have a traditional style and furnished it with antique items he previously owned as well as buying furnishings from new.

Almost every room in the house showcases his love of art, from more traditional scenes covering the red-walled ensuite to the cool modern paintings adorning the walls of the grand drawing room, which has an unusual barrel vaulted ceiling.

Lord Dartmouth says: "I do like art as I like having nice things to look at around me and it makes all the rooms a bit more interesting.

"I like bright colours because they make the place feel really warm, so a few of the rooms have quite strong colours.

"The lounge is a very cosy room, but when I am here I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I like sitting at the table, looking out at the fantastic views down the valley."

The property, reached by a sweeping driveway and gardens, has absolutely breathtaking views over the Colne Valley.

Lord Dartmouth added: "The views down the valley are a beautiful thing to look at first in the morning.

"There’s also some fantastic National Trust walks on the doorstep and a nice walk along the canal bank."

In June this year Lord Dartmouth’s life took a new turn when he was elected as member of the European Parliament for South West England, representing the United Kingdom Independence Party.

As he will be busy with his new responsibilities, he has decided to put his grand Marsden home on the market.

He says: "I am very sad to sell it, a lot of thought has gone into it and it’s in an absolutely outstanding spot. I hope there will be a lot of interest in it!"

Lord Dartmouth factfileLord Dartmouth was born William Legge on September 23, 1949.

He is a Member of the European Parliament for South West England representing the United Kingdom Independence Party.

He is the eldest son of Gerald Legge, 9th Earl of Dartmouth and Raine McCorquodale, the daughter of romantic novelist Barbara Cartland. He was a step-brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Lord Dartmouth had a seat in the House of Lords until the Labour Party’s reforms, which removed most hereditary members. In January 2007 he announced he was leaving the Conservative Party in favour of UKIP over concerns about Tory leader David Cameron’s policies.

Lord Dartmouth was elected as the second UKIP candidate for the South West England region in the European Parliament election, 2009.

Lea
Lea
 

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