New Lease of Life for UK's Historic Houses; RURAL LIVING Enjoy a Weekend Break and Help Save Some of Britain's Most Precious Buildings
Byline: By SARAH PROBERT
It may not be fitting to sing karaoke in a stately home where women would have once spent hours pushing a needle through tapestry and men lounged about in smoking jackets.
But it had been a hard week and the karaoke machine in a corner of this rather spectacular six-bedroom Queen Anne house was too tempting to ignore.
A short rendition of Hit Me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears in B-flat was enough to realise that this wasn't the done thing and it was time to crack open the Champagne that had been left for us chilling in the fridge.
A roaring log fire, baby grand piano, and a few daft games were enough to entertain a group of thirtysomethings for a weekend and if you are tempted by a short break on your doorstep, you might as well do it in style.
And Glenhurst certainly has style - by the truck load. From outside it looks like a magnificent National Trust property, with its imposing Georgian front, a lawn designed for croquet and a winding gravel drive just yards from the riverbank at Bewdley in Worcestershire.
Inside, the spectacle continues: a giant shaker-style kitchen where six people can cook a three-course meal without clashing pans, a hall complete with grandfather clock and the baby grand and a sitting room with giant sofas, period dressers and, of course, that karaoke machine hidden away so it doesn't detract from the antique collection.
The dining room appears unchanged since the house was built in 1703. Wooden panelling covers the walls, a giant fire place dominates one corner and a long period table perfect for banquets stretches across the room.
You can then retire in style up the thickly carpeted staircase, which winds its way up from the hallway to the attic.
Along the way, there are a selection of fine features that would amaze the pickiest of visitors. A wet room with a shower head bigger than a frisbee is on the first floor, along with two giant double rooms (one with a four poster), each having a row of Georgian windows where you can admire the front gardens and hear the faint squeal of the stream train that whistles behind the property on the Severn Valley Railway.
There is also a twin-bedded children's room complete with rocking horse and a large bathroom with fireplace and a roll top bath as the centre piece.
Another storey up, there is a third bathroom, two doubles and (my personal highlight) a pool table.
This fine house is a recent addition to a portfolio of properties that have all been rescued from ruin by the Vivat Trust.
Now owned by former antiques dealer Matt Jackson, it was once the family home of the Goodwin family, who were builders' merchants in Bewdley.
Three generations of the family lived here, although not always in harmony.
It it believed that at one time there was a family feud here and attempts were made to create separate living quarters, with bolts on the bannister and locked doors throughout.
These historic features are now being enjoyed by visitors, the first arrivals celebrating Christmas here a few months after Matt and his family left and moved into a country farmhouse up the road.
It was Matt's experience with a charity set up to protect historic buildings that helped him decide to rent Glenhurst as a holiday home rather than sell it on. …