A COUPLE with happy childhood memories of living in rural Thurstonland were keen to return there – but had a long wait.
Houses were in short supply in the popular village, so returning to their roots had proved impossible for Zoe Watkins and Matthew Hartley – until seven years ago when they got the call they had been waiting for.
Zoe, who teaches in Leeds, explains: “We both grew up in the village and had the most idyllic childhood – we wanted our own children to experience the same happy memories.
“We had found it impossible to find a house there so we were very lucky when we sold our house and the estate agent told us a place had come up.
“We pulled up to this gorgeous cottage right on the top of the hill that had these amazing views looking out for miles and thought there’s no way we could afford this!”
Fortunately the couple could afford their dream home and, being fans of period properties, were delighted to find that the former weavers’ cottage was packed full of features.
Zoe, 35, says: “We had an older house before, but not quite with as much character as this one which has the beams, mullion windows and exposed stone walls.
“It’s about 200 years old and as there used to be a stone quarry at the bottom of the hill, we think it was built for the workers.
“I looked up the census and there’s a few stonemasons listed in the area – it seems to have been quite an industrious little village.”
The three-storey cottage is part of a row of houses built at the same time.
They were bought by well-known local builder Dudley Parker in the mid-80s who renovated and extended the whole row.
Zoe adds: “I imagine the people living there before were in a single room, one on top of the other, so quite a few changes have been made to bring the cottages up to modern standards.
“It’s lovely living in a house with so much history to it and the character really did sell it to us.
“We’ve heard ghost stories and the people living in the house before us said there’s supposed to be a young woman and a baby. But we’ve never seen anything – it’ll just be the creaky floorboards!”
The renovation work on the cottage has been carefully considered to maintain the property’s sense of history.
Superb feature stone walls can be seen in rooms like the lounge, which also houses a stove-style fire.
This cosy space has particularly impressive views towards Holme Moss.
The cottage was updated by the former owners, so even though the couple had been looking for a home to do up they found that they loved the look just as it was.
Zoe says: “I can’t imagine how else we could have done it – they did a great job with combining the old and new features and our only challenge was furnishing it!”
The couple – who have four-year-old son Teddy and another child on the way – wanted their own family to experience the joys of growing up in the idyllic village.
Zoe says: “It’s a lovely village – the kind of place where everybody knows everybody and if you’re short of milk you can just knock on the farmer’s door!
“And when we arranged the viewing of this house it was quite a surprise when a girl I went to school with answered the door!”
“Our little boy loves it here. He particularly likes standing at his window and seeing tractors and trains travelling through Brockholes station.”
With another baby on the way, Zoe and Matthew are looking for more space for their expanding family.
Zoe says: “We will be very sad to leave the house, but we’re hoping to be able to stay in the village.
“We’ve made so many good friends and have fantastic memories and if we don’t stay here we will definitely be keeping in touch.”
Bramble Cottage, Top of the Bank, Thurstonland, is on the market with Cornerstone estate agents. To arrange a viewing call 01484 865646.
Three-storey weavers cottage
Elevated position boasting breathtaking far-reaching views
Characterful features retained throughout
Three bedrooms and versatile layout