YOU just have to clap eyes on the authentic Bavarian cape draped around the shoulders of John Whitworth to know that a home of his would be pretty unique.
The 64-year-old actor turned costumier is as flamboyant in his choice of housing as he is his clothing, so it is no surprise to find that more than a little of his quirky lifestyle has rubbed off on the Longwood home he built 12 years ago.
Like his costume business, the property is a virtual Aladdin’s cave, full of an eclectic mix of items hoarded through the years from stuffed animals to the Victorian carriage parked in the stable block.
The land at Longwood Edge originally formed part of the old village quarry until John bought it 30 years ago. Stables were built there 100 years ago with more outbuildings added to it over time.
All manner of livestock lived on the premises, earning the smallholding the nickname The Piggeries which remains the name of the property today.
The buildings later fell into disrepair and when John purchased the land, all that remained were a few crumbled walls strewn with weeds.
Undeterred, he set about having his home built there on the same footprint as the buildings and incorporating the original walls into the fabric of the house.
John says: “It took a long time. I wanted to build it within the character of what it used to be like as a smallholding and people do describe it as looking like a farmer’s ranch.
“There were just a few bricks of the outbuildings left and these were cleaned up and formed part of the build – so when you are in the bathroom you are actually where the pigsty once stood!”
He added: “I built another house on the land, called Quarry House, using some original features from the site which, I believe, was one of the biggest quarries in Europe.
“I used a lot of reclaimed beams from the old mills and I’ve done the same thing with my home.
“On the balcony, which has the most fantastic views and seats over 60 people, there’s still the anchor point which held down the horse working with the cranes.”
Just as John kept the original footprint, the group of stables were rebuilt, today acting as storage for all manner of objects including the striking Victorian carriage hired out for weddings.
The outside currently plays home to a menagerie of animals including Shetland ponies and a rescued squirrel and this first surreal impression sets the tone for the many surprises revealed as you wind your way through the warren-like property.
John is proud of the covered courtyard which, like the rest of the elevated property, has stunning views across to Castle Hill and beyond.
The indoor outhouse is filled with tables and chairs and played host to several charity barbecues where visitors were amazed to see candelabras, puppets and even a ship’s bell hanging overhead.
The bold, theatrical style of the property very much reflects John’s vivacious personality.
He has dabbled in a variety of careers from teaching skiing in Austria to working as an extra on TV shows including Emmerdale.
Today, John runs Milnsbridge company B Authentic which supplies 12,000 original costumes from the 17th century onwards.
The business supplies costumes to the likes of theatre and TV companies, museums and murder mystery events and John can often be seen wearing some of the outfits.
He says: “I’m quite a flamboyant character so I guess the place does reflect that. You could say it’s a bit Steptoe and Son, but a nicer, more antique version.
“I’ve travelled all over the country and picked up bits and pieces from all kinds of places over the years from antique shops and car boot sales.
“I’ve done so many interesting things in my life and the house represents years spent collecting things. I’ve got everything from the model motorbike sold to me on a London street to the ornate lamp I bought from an exhibition in Paris.”
There’s evidence of John’s love of collecting all things weird and wonderful throughout his home.
The bathroom is possibly one of the most elaborate in Yorkshire and full of antiques and family pictures.
But the prize for most flamboyant room in the house must go to the incredible living room which is dominated by a central stone fireplace covered in collectables including motorbike memorabilia.
Here you are spoiled for choice on what to marvel at first, from the replica suit of armour keeping watch over the sofa to the mesmerising collection of stuffed birds and stags heads.
John explains: “I’m interested in history and perhaps some of my most prized possessions are the antique sword sticks.
“People are always fascinated to have a look around. For my charity events I have asked for donations for tours around the house and they’ve made the most money.”
The house is certainly one-of-a-kind, but after many happy years there John has decided to sell it to embark on a new adventure as he reaches retirement.
He adds: “I’m looking to change my life around this year. I still love my skiing so in the winter I plan to spend time in Austria and do some more instructing.
“I then plan to spend some time travelling around Europe collecting authentic Russian, Italian and French costumes which we currently don’t have as many quantities of in the shop.
“I would say my home is the most unique in Huddersfield. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it only takes one person to come along and fall in love with it!”
The Piggeries, Longwood Edge Road, is on the market with Simon Blyth estate agents.
John is also auctioning off most of the contents of his home on Saturday February 20, with viewings from 10am. The auction begins at 1pm and will include his carriage.