Walford House, in the historic village of Prestonpans just outside Edinburgh, dates from the 18th century and is a fine example of a mansion house. It is set overlooking the Firth of Forth and has spectacular 180 degree views across to the East Neuk of Fife.
But sometimes the trouble with grand period homes is that they are often of a size which doesn’t particularly fit with modern day living.
In Walford House’s case however, it was divided into an upper and lower apartment some years ago, and the upper part, now for sale, is by itself a good sized family home.
What is more, it has a good deal of usuable space in the attic - part of it is currently a utility room - so for a family wanting more than the current bedrooms in the property, there is scope to expand upwards in the future.
Catherine and Philip Browne moved here five years ago from a flat in Leith Links. Catherine says: “We wanted somewhere with a garden and preferably a bit of character so this really fitted the bill. When we walked in and saw the views, we were just astounded though.”
The house is ‘C’ Listed for its historic and architectural importance. Dating from 1757, its period features remain including decorative cornicing, timber sash and casement windows, working timber shutters, original fireplaces, timber flooring and wall presses.
The house sits in a shared walled garden that protects it from the road. There is a garden gate in the wall and a driveway protected by electric gates.
As well as being remarkably private, it is a sheltered spot, despite being so close to the shore and in their time here the couple have enjoyed their garden, planting borders and shrubs as well as fruit trees including apple, plum and fig.
These join older more established trees, some of which are listed.
It is a lovely garden and there is a feeling that you are in a secluded spot despite being within walking distance of the shops and station.
Most of the Browne’s improvements have been in the garden in their time here as the house needed very little, the kitchen was new and the bathrooms traditional and they have stayed that way. They have repainted throughout however, and sanded and varnished all the floorboards, to take it back to its original look.
It is, above all, a very pretty house with delightful nooks and features never letting you forget its age, even though it is a warm and comfortable home.
The drawing room is a high point, with the best of the breathtaking views.
Catherine says: “It takes in everything from Arthur’s Seat, right round to Fife and the East Lothian coast. And there is always something to watch; there are rocks just offshore which are a haven for seabirds or the odd seal basking in the sunshine, and you see little fishing boats going out to lay lobster pots.”
She also says that you can see the weather approaching: “It changes so much with the light through the day.”
The view has changed physically recently too, when the chimneys of the old power station quarter of mile up the coast disappeared on their demolition last year. Catherine says: “Quite a number of people have said that it must be lovely to have a clear view now, but we rather miss them.”
The master bedroom has a view from its circular window out over the garden to East Lothian, so it isn’t all about the sea views here, the upper apartment, from its raised position, has a lovely outlook all around.
And the attic rooms offer real potential to take further advantage of the position. A timber staircase leads up to the landing with access to three further rooms. The utility already has plumbing, and there is a store room with eaves storage and a workshop. The workshop is a charming barrel vaulted room with a far reaching coastal outlook.
Catherine and Philip are now moving back to their native Ireland but they have really loved living here and are very aware that the house seems to keep a hold on previous owners.
Catherine says: “Many people who used to live here, or whose family did, have been in touch over the years. Among others we are friendly with the man who converted the house to two in the 1970s and we have had visits from the daughter of a family of doctors who lived here from 1900. She is now in her 90s but still told us stories of what it was like and remembers the house with great affection.”
Offers over £295,000, contact Rettie and Co on 0131 220 4160.