Historic mansion up for sale in Spondon
The Homestead, one of Derbyshire's most important historical properties, is for sale for only the third time in its 250-year history for £1.2m, sparking national newspaper interest. Jill Gallone reports. Pictures: Ian Hodgkinson .
FRANCESCA and Andrew Rutherford are poised to say goodbye to one of the most impressive historical homes in Derbyshire, but it's been an experience they will treasure forever.
"It is an amazing place to live, awash with history," says Andrew. "Every room in here has a story to tell. Important people and historical figures have either lived in the house or visited it.
"It's quite high up and at the time when Bonnie Prince Charlie brought his troops to Derby, this house would have been a major landmark in a rural landscape."
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According to Andrew, paintings by Joseph Wright have hung on its elegant walls as Wright's daughter once called the place home.
"It's hugely significant in terms of its historical importance," says Andrew.
"It's a Grade One listed Georgian property and this is only the third time in its 250-year history that it has been available for sale. It's caused so much interest The Times and Daily Telegraph are planning to run stories on it."
For Andrew and Francesca, the opportunity to live at The Homestead in Spondon came along thanks to Andrew's father, Alan Rutherford, who bought the fascinating period mansion in 1996, initially with the view of using it both as a private home and boutique hotel.
"He carried out an extensive but careful refurbishment," says Andrew. "For example, it went from having one bathroom to nine. The old coachman's house was also extended and modernised
"My father retired and left a decade ago. I took the house over and returned it to being a private home. I have lived here since I was 27 and I am 35 now. It's a big old house but that's the splendour of it.
''All of the furniture has been here since it was built so it's home to some beautiful antiques. The fact that they are here, still in situ, is remarkable. They will be available for sale alongside the property. It would be nice if all the antiques could remain here because owning such an old house with original furnishings is such a rare thing."
The Homestead has history woven into its very fabric and you sense that as soon as you walk through its impressive doors. It has been home to notable Derbyshire people including Anna Romana Wright, the daughter of famous Industrial Revolution artist Sir Joseph Wright, often referred to as Wright of Derby.
Some of Wright's famous works adorned its walls in the early 1900s, including a portrait of his daughter. The man, famous for his use of light in The Orrery, would have been a visitor.
The great painter was known to several important figures of the Age of Enlightenment, including famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, Richard Arkwright and Erasmus Darwin. It is likely all visited The Homestead and Josiah Wedgwood is believed to have married there in the 1760s.
The atmospheric property dates back to around 1710-36 and would have been built over several years.
In 1745, the recently completed Homeside, as it was then known, would have dominated the view across the flat Derwent Valley below.
While the architect is unconfirmed, it is generally in the style of Francis Smith of Warwick. Smith (1672-1738) was an English master-builder and architect involved in the construction of country houses in the Midlands. The Homestead's importance is underlined by the fact that it features in Nikolaus Pevsner's Buildings of England.
Such recognition by a respected intellect adds to the home's pedigree. Andrew believes it is an architectural jewel worthy of its listed status alongside such grand estates as Chatsworth.
The Homestead was originally built for John Anthill, a member of a local family and wealthy tanner. In addition to creating an architecturally magnificent home, John had interesting features incorporated into the house.
It includes suspended ceilings and floors held on massive concealed oak beams. This means there is virtually no transmission of noise between floors. This design feature was way ahead of its time.
John was also said to be "fond of his cups", which meant he liked a drink or two.
A relative wrote: "So as to be convenient for him of an evening to communicate with the cellar without anyone in the house knowing", he had a secret passage from his parlour to the cellar incorporated into the design.
The secret passage is disguised by one of a pair of display alcoves in the south east lounge and is still in perfect working order.
Sadly, despite all his careful plans, John did not survive to occupy the house. Instead, his brother, William, lived at the Homestead until his death in 1787. Under his will, the house then passed to the first of several generations of Cades to live there.
James Cade, a surgeon, married Anna Romana Wright, the aforementioned daughter of Joseph Wright. Romana had 13 children, 11 of whom survived. So the home's ample space and grounds were once filled with the laughter and play of many children.
When James Cade died in 1840, the house was sold within the family to Dr Thomas Cade, the eldest son, who continued his father's practice, as did his son, Charles James Cade, in 1894.
Some elderly people in Spondon recall consulting Dr Cade at the house before the First World War.
The last of the Cades to occupy The Homestead was Dr James Cade and his daughter, Miss Rowena Cade (1893-1983). She was the founder and builder of the unique Minack Open Air Theatre at Porthcurno in Cornwall.
Miss Cade left The Homestead in 1911 and moved to Cornwall.
The long residence of the Cade generations can be witnessed in outline footprints with initials of members of the family engraved in lead work on the roof. The Cade name has also been scratched into a piece of 18th-century glass in a window.
When Dr Cade and Rowena left The Homestead it was let to Sir Henry Fowler, a renowned locomotive designer and chief mechanical engineer of the Midland Railway Company.
By 1916, the then British Cellulose Manufacturing Company occupied a large site to the south of the house. Its managing director, Major-General Garnet Hughes, rented the house in 1917 and the Cades finally sold The Homestead in 1919 to their tenant's company.
Major-General Garnet Hughes' connection to the property is tied in with the growth of the British Cellulose Manufacturing Company.
It later became a corporate guest facility for British Celenese and, in recent times, has accommodated senior British Cabinet members. Government figures from the USSR, China and Japan have also been guests.
Today, it is a much-loved home for Andrew and Francesca, a place awash with the extraordinary.
For example, its wrought iron balustrades and gate are by Robert Bakewell (1682–1752), a smith who forged a national reputation.
Then there is The Homestead's original oak staircase, contemporary panelling and central Venetian entrance. Its fine architecture, quality craftsmanship, setting within large, old walled gardens and fascinating history make it exceptional.
"It's a lovely house and hard for me to leave, but I work in London and need to be there full-time now," says Andrew.
The Homestead is on the market with Everington & Ruddle.