Ashcroft House sits on 50 acres and has an 18th century dovecote on the grounds. Photo: Knight Frank.

The English house that literally put a B.C. town on the map is for sale

Ashcroft House, the home of early settlers Henry and Clement Cornwall, has a hefty price tag.

Ashcroft House, in the picturesque Cotswolds about 100 miles west of London, has been listed for sale by the estate agency Knight Frank, and the listing agent had no idea that the house gave its name to the town of Ashcroft in the B.C. Interior.

The property consists of a main house with eight bedrooms, multiple reception rooms, attic, wine cellar, and a self-contained apartment over three floors; three three-bedroom cottages; outbuildings; a tennis court; and 50 acres of land.

The main house was built in the late 17th/early 18th century, with Georgian additions, and boasts beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. It is approached by a long drive (from Ashcroft Road) flanked with parkland and mature trees. Two small stone buildings on the property built in the early-to-mid 18th century are identified as a former game larder and a dovecote; the latter was intended to house doves or pigeons, which were an important source of meat and eggs.

In the 1860s, Ashcroft House was the home of the Revd. A.G. Cornwall, a chaplain-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria and a descendant of the Earl of Cornwall. In 1861 his son Henry, who had recently completed a degree in Classics at Cambridge, developed a case of gold fever after reading an account of the discovery of gold in the Cariboo region of the then-new colony of British Columbia. He persuaded his brother Clement, who had just been called to the bar as a lawyer, to travel with him to the colony, where the pair intended to make their fortunes in the goldfields and then return to England.

When they arrived, however, they found that most of the mining claims had been staked. Undaunted, they realized that there were other opportunities for an enterprising pair. Possibly inspired by Judge Matthew Begbie’s description of land near the Thompson River—“The entire country resembles a vast park attached to a nobleman’s mansion in England”—the brothers purchased land about two miles from the Thompson River, just south of Cache Creek.

There the brothers built houses, and eventually a grist mill and sawmill; they also ran a large herd of cattle on a property that eventually grew to more than 6,000 acres, and a post office was situated there. When the Cariboo Wagon Road was run through their property in 1862, the Cornwalls built a roadhouse, which soon became one of the most popular stopping points for travellers along the road, a place where people could relax in leather armchairs and read several-months-old copies of the London Times newspaper.

The brothers christened the entire property “Ashcroft”, after their home in England. When a town was built nearby on the Thompson River in the 1880s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway came through and built a depot, the post office was moved there, taking Ashcroft with it as the eventual name of the new settlement. The Cornwalls rechristened their property “Ashcroft Manor”, by which name it is known today, and never did return to England. Both went on to play major roles in the history of B.C.; Clement became the Lieutenant-Governor of the province in 1881.

Bruce Tolmie-Thompson, a partner with Knight Frank, had no idea that Ashcroft House had given its name to a town in B.C. until contacted by The Journal, and seemed delighted with the news. He says that while the apartment in the main house was occupied until three years ago, the house itself has been unoccupied for two decades. “It’s water and wind tight, and a new boiler was put in recently, so it’s warm in winter, but the wiring and plumbing are 40 or 50 years old, and the kitchen is very dated. The bathrooms too; you have one bathroom serving four bedrooms, and these days people want ensuites.”

Two of the three cottages also need work (one is currently occupied by tenants), and the tennis court needs resurfacing. A word of warning, however, to a prospective owner who wants to tackle the renovations him- or herself. The main house, along with the game larder and dovecote, is a Grade II listed building, which means that it is of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it. Listed buildings cannot be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local planning authority, which stipulates what can and cannot be done. Tolmie-Thomson notes that consent must also be obtained from English Heritage.

“Grade II is the least severe listing, and probably pertains mostly to the façade and some external features. It doesn’t usually affect sales. And it’s quite rare to find a house like this in this condition,” he adds. Changes have clearly been made to the exterior — “A lead-capped awning over the terrace around the house has been removed” — but he notes that many houses of similar vintage have undergone extensive interior changes over the course of decades, as new owners move in and do renovations.

“Ashcroft House still has the original fireplaces, cornice-work, and plaster-work. Whoever buys it can leave their mark.”

Whoever buys it will also have to have deep pockets. The property is listed for £3.5 million (Cdn$6 million). To see the listing for Ashcroft House, with more pictures, go to http://bit.ly/2Lhjq3Z.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The drive for Ashcroft House passes through mature trees and parkland, ensuring privacy. Photo: Knight Frank.

An 18th century game larder on the grounds has a splendid view over the Cotswolds countryside. Photo: Knight Frank.

Ashcroft House in Gloucestershire, England gave its name to the town in British Columbia. Photo: Knight Frank. Ashcroft House in Gloucestershire, England gave its name to the town in British Columbia. Photo: Knight Frank.

Just Posted

Stoked on science: Resolve for your resolutions

Jade Harvey Guest columnist As we progress further into January and the… Continue reading

Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Photographers had a rare chance Sunday to capture a rare lunar eclipse

2019 Budget: Revelstoke city staff recommending a five per cent property tax increase

Additional options that would expand services total another six per cent

Revelstoke Secondary School enthralls the audience with Trap

With a twist ending that had audience members laughing, perhaps uncomfortably, the… Continue reading

Okanagan Military Tattoo returns

Performances July 28 and July 28

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Man charged in 7-Eleven fire in Shuswap granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read