Lancashire Holiday Cottages News and Offers
The House That Terry Built
Imagine high woodland dotted with clearings, overlooking a vast area of countryside stretching from Blackpool and the Fylde coast right across the Lake District to Barrow. The view encompasses very nearly the whole of Lancashire and on a clear day you can see forever - well, to the Isle of Man at any rate.
It was this extraordinary view, coupled with its peaceful seclusion, that drew Terry and Sue Sharples to Barnacre, a little village tucked down narrow lanes near Garstang. The farm and outbuildings, originally part of the Barnacre estate, were being sold off. Terry, a builder by trade, immediately saw the potential of the site and seized the opportunity to create the perfect family home.
He developed his grand plan quickly, but it took three years to obtain all the necessary permissions, some of which had conditions attached. For example, out of the six cottages planners stipulated that two were to become holiday cottages, something that up until then had never been on Terry and Sues agenda. Nevertheless, they decided to venture into the world of holiday cottage ownership and, as work took place on the outbuildings, they and their three children lived in the nearby farmhouse.
The site was taken up with old concrete cowsheds, which were demolished to reveal an attractive courtyard of buildings that would form the basis of the new cottages. Once all the structural work was out of the way, Sue got on with planning the interiors.
Not content to paint colour on to the walls, she decided to create a hidden menagerie. Artist Janet Whittaker was commissioned to paint tiny mice in each cottage and now they peep out from behind clocks, tiptoe along skirtings, creep up doorframes and hide in corners.
Rather than create simple, functional rooms as they could easily have done, Terry and Sue decided to decorate the cottages as if they were going to live there themselves. In fact at one point, they actually did live for a short time in each cottage, checking that everything was exactly in the right place and in perfect working order. "We wanted to create a really comfortable environment for guests so we checked out very thoroughly everything we had done", said Sue.
Having installed a Mark Wilkinson ' Cooks Kitchen ' in the original farmhouse, they decided to put Mark Wilkinson kitchens into each of the cottages. The award winning results speak for themselves. Together, Sue and Terry have created a little enclave of stunning cottages, decorated and equipped to the highest standards. "We didnt want to skimp or cut corners - we wanted to provide the very best we could," said Terry.
The Old Stables Cottage is a case in point, fitted with a glistening new pewter coloured Aga and a ' Pantry ' kitchen with gleaming granite work surfaces and every mod con hidden behind solid pale oak doors.
To one side of this comfortable kitchen, light floods in through windows that overlook the pretty garden and woods beyond. Rather than install the usual tile splash-backs behind the worktop, Sue asked Janet to paint a row of pigs strutting across the wall. In the sitting area, low slung leather Tetrad sofas are practical and comfortable and a cast iron wood burning stove emits a warm glow on chilly autumn evenings.
The bedrooms are prettily decorated with Sanderson and Dorma linen on comfortable antique pine beds. The tiny bathrooms make brilliant use of space with white suites and jolly seaside decoration by Janet.
They may have succeeded in creating their ideal family home, but at one stage Terry and Sues chances of success suffered a setback. As the first two cottages were completed in December 2000, Foot and Mouth disease broke out. Footpaths were closed, and people were encouraged to stay away from the countryside. Bookings for the cottages were badly affected, but those visitors who did come, many have come back again this year. Sue and Terry not only succeeded in completing their project, but also in gaining the first 5 star rating for cottages in Lancashire.
© Lancashire Life, November 2002, written by Penny Whitehouse.