Saturday, 3 December 2011

Chesterhill



This is my family home and the red dot on the doorstep is me! My maternal grandparents bought Chesterhill in 1970. Two generations of Greene's have grown up here. My mother and her siblings (along with visitations from my Grandmother's sister's children) make up the first generation and the offspring of the first make up the second.

Last time I visited Chesterhill was for my Grandfather's funeral in 2003, but summer of 2011 brought an irresistible longing to see her again. This resulted first in a round trip in June and later a two month retreat from August to October. I left London, Victoria at 11:45pm on Friday June 3rd and arrived at Dundee, Seagate at 10:40am on Saturday June 4th. I walked to the house (4 miles across the Tay from Dundee) found her abandoned, broke in through the back door, took some pictures, walked back to Dundee, boarded the 8:40pm bus to London and arrived back into Victoria at 7am on Sunday June 5th. Walked home, showered and went to work.

June rolled into July, July into August and with the passing months came the stifling heat of an oppressive summer. The cool sweet breezes of Fife blew silent and strong. And I ran to them. I had intended leaving on August 18th but it was too much, too far away. I left on August 11th. By August 19th I had cleaned a room for me, cleared the drive of weeds, "deforested" the gutters, scrubbed the West Wing kitchen, discovered how to make the electricity in the West Wing work and with said discovery managed to turn the hot water on!

17 comments:

  1. I see the delightful Chesterhill House is currently for sale. I guess there must be a lot work to do as there are no interior shots. What's the inside like? Are the period fittings intact?

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    1. I know. It's so heart breaking and that awful article on it was so heartless. Yes, many of the original fittings are intact, the ceilings and cornices are very beautiful and eloborate in a few rooms and hallways. The last time I was up there some of the copper bath room fittings had been looted leaving none of the plumbing working, and at that point, one of the victorian radiators had been stolen from the upstairs hallway - all other rooms still had theirs. It would need replastering and new woodwork throughout. The south eastern wall needs to be pinned back onto the building before more cracking and damage occurs. Some of the windows are broken, but, as I said, she needs new woodwork throughout anyway. The basement needs dampcoursing and I would say it would be advisable to restore her basement rooms into their original kitchen/pantry and scullery functions. The servant bells are no longer in situ but when I was a child there were a few whose wires were still connected and the bells could be rung. During renovations these could easily be restored. There is some leaking in the south eastern attic room and a few floorboards have been pulled up in both the upstairs and downstairs west wings. The grounds need extensive landscaping, and have huge potential. Even when my grandparents were fit and healty enough to work on the grounds everyday they were not utilising the full potential of the grounds. There is now an overgrown patch that used to be a vegetable garden (approx half the size of the walled garden) - my grandfather maintained this meticulously but sadly most of the early photographs of their tenancy have been lost. There are about 14 apple trees on the property and all provide enormous yields, obviously they will need some maintenance to bring them back down from the overgrown trees they have become. There are still some wonderful examples of flora that grow in the walled flower garden which was my grandparents pride and joy for their entire residency at Chesterhill. And the grounds are home to a large population of wild red squirrels who knock on the windows and come into the front porch to ask for and take nuts. All in all it is a wonderous property and I am utterly heart broken that no one in my family has the means or the wherewithal to look after her.

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    2. Hi miss Von Goetz, I've become completely obsessed with this house. It's amazing that your grandparents owned it! So interesting to read everything you have to say about it.
      The house and grounds look sooo beautiful. The walled garden would just be amazing to have.
      It must be awful to have to say goodby to it.
      I've been googling it and I can't find many photos of it. Do you have more from your childhood?
      I'm trying to hatch a hairbrained scheme where I get every one I know to chip in for part ownership, because I don't have that kind of money myself. It would just be so amazing to give it the love and care it deserves
      Ruth

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    3. Hi Ruth! I would love to join you in that scheme! There is actually a website that helps people crowd fund for property! It's called crowdlord. An estate agent friend advised that due to the capital needed to bring her up to standards (and now that she is listed it may add other contraints) that crowd funding would probably be too risky. There are of course other ways round that: crowd fund the purchase price, set up camp and use her as a accommodation & food in exchange for help around the grounds and building type venue. There are many programs where travellers (many of whom are highly skilled) live for free at people's homes in exchange for 4-6 hours work around the home. Something like that and also getting corporate sponsorship for team building/adventure exercises would be good to do. Hard work. But achievable with the right team. Rachel xx

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    4. Let's see some interior shots. None of the listings include them.

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    5. Oh Peter Combe what a delightfully pleasant way you've demanded I spend considerable time compiling and uploading interior shots just for you. If you want to see the interior go to an open viewing or make an appointment with the estate agent. Jesus h Christ, I'm sure you could be more obnoxious if you tried but I really hope you won't. Learn some fucking manners.

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  2. I run over the inverdovat road regularly to tayport and up by causeway hill and scotscraig and never once realised this magnificent house was yards away from me!! Need to have a peek next time I am passing - if only I had the time and the money!!

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    1. Yes she is very hidden away. You can't see her from anywhere at all! And when your on her grounds you can't see any other properties unless you're standing on the turret at which point you can look out and across the Tay to Dundee, see the Tennismure Dunes/Forest and even all the way across to St Andrews!

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    2. Just to clarify: PLEASE DO NOT peek in next time you are passing!! If you wish to look at the property (grounds/interior/whatever) you must do so through the estate agent and proper channels. Anyone found trespassing may be prosecuted.

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  3. Dear Miss Von Goetz. I visited this lovely house today with my friend June, who spent some time working at the house with your grandfather Richard. June was quite emotional as she has many happy memories of the house. We are hoping to buy the house and turn it into a kind of spiritual centre where people can come for retreats and benefit from the beautiful environment at Chester Hill. We are hoping we can be entrusted to respectfully preserving your family's memories as June feels very strongly that the house should not fall into the hands of commercial developers. With best wishes, respectfully yours, Colin Orr

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  4. Hi Rachel
    Thank you for your reply.
    I will email you directly.
    Warm regards,
    Colin

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  5. Dear Rachel, I hope the beautiful house gets restored to a lovely home once again, it has the potential to provide many lifetimes of memories yet.
    I would love to come to a yoga retreat there...
    What a shame the estate agent has not showcased the potential of the interior...I imagine high ceilings, beautiful fireplaces and stunning vistas.

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    1. Dear Unknown; all of that and much more! You're very welcome to book onto an open viewing and see it and experience it first hand for yourself. They are things that are better felt and experienced than looked at on LCD screens.

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  6. Hi Ruth
    This place is just beautiful. I'm sure it must be hard to put it up for sale. Have you had any quotes for what the work would cost? Trying to work out if we could make this work but we live quite far away so would be more of a heart decision! Thanks

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    1. Hi Murray Angus,

      I'm not sure who Ruth is or why you're addressing her as someone putting the house up for sale... there is a Ruth in this comment thread who has made it clear she can't afford to buy it... so again it seems strange that you would want to enter into a conversation with her about renovation costs etc.

      If you have any purchasing questions: cost of works etc, please refer them to the estate agent. That's why we have employed them. They have all the answers and more that you might need.

      Good luck!

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