Memories of a happy childhood can seem all the stronger as time passes, yet when confronted with the reality when revisiting once familiar haunts it can make any changes seem all the more jarring. For Clare Sage, her return aged 27 to her grandmother’s home, Abbey Dore Court in Herefordshire, was a particularly hard welcome as the house had been effectively abandoned by her grandmother for several years so she could concentrate on the garden. Despite Clare’s determination she needed some help and so her family’s home is the subject of Ruth Watson’s Country House Rescue.
After coming back from years living away, walking through her former childhood home, Clare was shocked to discover the many leaks, falling ceilings, holes in the floors, and a general air of neglect. Built in the 1870s, the house, although comparatively large with 11-bedrooms and 6 acres of gardens, is only a minor country house and much smaller than those usually featured in Country House Rescue. However, it shows that even the smaller houses can be as problematic as the much larger ones. Again, it’s a familiar pattern of ageing owner with insufficient income to employ full-time staff for maintenance, who does what she can but then find it’s has become just too much. These houses can then deteriorate quick rapidly if the problems are ignored – and with country houses being naturally isolated this is all too easy.
Thankfully, in this case, it appears that Clare’s dedication has enabled the restoration of the house and it is now available for rent which will not only create an income but, perhaps most importantly, will ensure that the house is lived in, keeping it warm and ensuring any problems will be spotted quickly and dealt with. Here’s hoping that one day, Clare’s hard work with be rewarded with her being able to move back in and live in her family’s home.
Official website: ‘Abbey Dore Court‘
Rental details: ‘Abbey Dore Court‘ [Sykes Cottages]
Programme to be broadcast at 20:00 on 15 April 2010 on Channel 4.