Property: Scawsby Hall - a piece of history

Elaine and James Burke stand infront of their house Scawsby Hall, Barnsley Road, Scawsby, which they are selling. Picture: Andrew Roe
Elaine and James Burke stand infront of their house Scawsby Hall, Barnsley Road, Scawsby, which they are selling. Picture: Andrew Roe

If walls had ears, the ones at Scawsby Hall would certainly have a few tales to tell.

The 17th century, Grade II listed home, set in beautiful grounds at Old Scawsby, is on the open market for the first time since 1925.

And whoever buys it will not only be the proud owners of its bricks and mortar – they will also be the main characters in a new chapter of this historical building’s fascinating story.

It has taken the current owners, Elaine and James Burke, two years to pluck up the courage to put their beloved home up for sale.

“Our heart says no but our head says yes,” says Elaine.

“We love it here and we don’t want to move – but we’re not getting any younger and its upkeep can be hard work.”

Elaine and James bought Scawsby Hall from its previous owners privately in 1996. Between 1998 and 2000, they poured their hearts and souls into an extreme restoration project which transformed it from a dilapidated, former farmhouse into a pristine home full of character and unique features.

“It wanted everything doing to it, from start to finish,” James explained.

“We have done everything. We stripped every room.

“It was run-down and it had a hole in the roof but we started from scratch and did it all as a total, complete refurbishment.”

As Scawsby Hall is Grade II listed, the retired couple was given a helping hand by experts from English Heritage to make sure all of its special features – of which there are many - were preserved and given a new lease of life.

From the meat hooks hanging in the kitchen and the original shutters adorning many of the windows, to the exposed wooden beams in the attic which were once part of a ship and the intricate embellishments on the original bookshelving – every nook and cranny of this breathtaking property tells a story.

It is also full of surprises: during the refurbishment, workmen uncovered no less than ten spectacular, stone-bordered fireplaces hidden behind layers of plasterboard, and countless ‘prayer holes’ - a small, curved hole in some of the walls which were used as a space to light a candle and worship.

They also found the original flagstones under the modern flooring in the kitchen, and Victorian tiling in the hallway.

Perhaps the most exciting discovery was a low-ceilinged secret room that had been boarded up many years before.

At first the workmen thought it was another fireplace, but they soon realised the size of their discovery as they tore back the wall coverings.

“James now uses it as an office but when we used to have parties we had a snooker table in here,” says Elaine.

“It would also make a family room or a cinema room.”

Boasting six double bedrooms, five ground floor reception rooms and four luxury bathrooms, it is easy for your imagination to go into overdrive and dream of its households from centuries gone by.

In the time of Henry VIII, legend has it that some of the leaders of the Catholic church took shelter in Scawsby Hall as the King sought to rid England of Catholicism in favour of his Church of England.

An army of 30,000 marched from the East Riding of Yorkshire to Doncaster to hold talks with the Duke of Norfolk, who had been sent by the King to deal with the troubles.

Apparently, Doncaster was flooded and, as Scawsby is the highest point in the town, the troops made camp in the surrounding fields while the leaders took shelter in Scawsby Hall, which at that time was a farmhouse.

With such a compelling history, it was only right for the Burkes to restore their home in a suitable manner.

“If you like modern, you won’t like this house,” jokes Elaine.

“I have collected antiques for years and we did it in a style that complemented the house.”

Authentic pieces of antique furniture picked up at auctions fill the grand yet homely reception rooms. Sanitan bathroom suites – the ‘Rolls Royce’ of bathroom suites – fit in perfectly in the majestic bathrooms. And four poster beds, complemented by exquisite matching hangings and drapes, are the feature pieces in many of the sizeable bedrooms.

The Burkes put just as much effort into furnishing the house as they did into refurbishing it: James has re-upholstered many of the pieces of antique furniture himself, and Elaine made many of the stunning curtain sets.

All that is missing now is a new owner to begin the next chapter in the story of this property – undoubtedly one of the finest to be presented to the Doncaster market in many years.

Scawsby Hall, Barnsley Road, Old Scawsby is on the market for £999,950 with agents Hall Gate Estates of Hall Gate, Doncaster.