Home of the week: 19th century brewery up for sale in rural Perthshire

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  • The Ale House is a characterful home over three storeys, near Dunkeld in Perthshire. There are four bedrooms, including an ensuite bedroom on the ground floor. It has a dining kitchen and dining room, plus first-floor sitting room. Three-quarters of an acre of garden, with open countryside views.
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The Ale House is a B-listed former brewery on the edge of the village of Caputh near Dunkeld in rural Perthshire.

The property’s stone lintel reads 1808 with the carved initials “AB”, thought to refer to Alexander Bullions, an early occupant known for brewing beer and distilling whisky, hence the name.

Fallyn, the Irish water spaniel keeps guard over the approach of the Ale House, near Dunkeld

Fallyn, the Irish water spaniel keeps guard over the approach of the Ale House, near Dunkeld

The building is full of quirks and character but has been recently converted into a spacious four-bedroomed house full of modern comfort but without losing any of its charm.

Alison Curley and her son, James, bought the Ale House as a project in 2004. They certainly knew that the renovation wouldn’t be simply a case of a lick of paint and some light gardening to get it up to scratch.

Alison says: “It was a complete ruin. It had holes where there should have been windows, no roof and it had been empty a very long time.”

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The traditional master bedroom

The traditional master bedroom

They were looking for a house in the area – moving from Fort William although Alison is originally from Bristol – and between them had the requisite skills for a conversion although it wasn’t something Alison had really attempted before.

James, however, is a cabinet maker and engineer and can put his hand to most tasks.

Alison says: “I still don’t think we understood the scale of what we were taking on.

“Most people thought we were mad, particularly my mother and even James was quite surprised when I phoned him to say I’d put an offer in and it had been accepted.”

The double height dining hall

The double height dining hall

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Over the next five years, while the pair lived on site in a caravan and worked almost every day on the Ale House, they found out just how much hard graft it required.

Planning permission to convert the property for residential use was already in place although they adapted the layout to their own needs.

Alison hired electricians and plumbers, but the rest of the work was largely carried out by James, with Alison’s help.

The dining kitchen

The dining kitchen

She says: “I know he’s my son and I perhaps shouldn’t boast but it is a fantastic feat.”

The first task was making all the windows in the house, which took a year. While James crafted them, Alison painted the sash and case frames.

By their first Christmas a stove had been installed in the kitchen and they ate Christmas dinner in there, although it was still open to the elements.

The building, which had been laid out as a brewery, was reconfigured to create four bedrooms, three bath or shower rooms and flexible, comfortable public space.

The Curleys have taken care to preserve original features including the exposed stone walls and the fireplaces, while James has salvaged and reused materials where possible, such as the reclaimed vintage floorboards, the hand-built pitch pine kitchen with tiled floor and a range cooker; exposed beams in the dining hall and the fireplace and woodburning stove in the lovely first-floor sitting room.

The sitting room has windows on two sides, bathing the room with natural light and a beautiful outlook onto the gardens and countryside beyond.

The first floor sitting room

The first floor sitting room

The layout as it is now has a ground-floor bedroom and bathroom alongside the family kitchen and separate dining room, a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor plus the sitting room, and two bedrooms and a shower room on the top floor.

Outside, the grounds, which were overgrown and full of rubble a decade ago are now magical, further proof of James’s versatility.

The three-quarters of an acre makes for a pretty country garden with lawns, beech hedges, cherry, apple and pear trees, and an ancient beech tree with a raised terrace underneath.

Alison, who has lived in the property since it was finished, with her husband Gary Kolarczyk, runs a pet grooming business from an outbuilding and enjoys both the house and the garden.

James has moved on to run his own cabinetry business after spending so much of his twenties on the Ale House.

Alison says: “Perhaps we did take on more than we expected and we didn’t realise it would take so long, but looking back I’m glad we persevered.

“The building was a bit of an eyesore, and now it is a lovely home.”

Offers over £410,000, contact Savills on 01738 477525.