In conversation with the owner of Cranshaws Manse
Originally the manse house for the local parish, our delectable Cranshaws Manse has been transformed by the owners into a sublime country home. We chatted to the owner to find out more about this family-friendly holiday home.
Hello Suzie, thank you for taking the time to tell us more about your beautiful Scottish Borders home, Cranshaws Manse. Firstly, we’d love to know if there was one feature that really made you fall in love with the house when you were considering purchasing it?
At the time, we were living and looking for a home over on the west of Scotland, but after a chance browse on the Church of Scotland website we spotted the Manse and three days later found ourselves weaving our way through the stunning Lammermuir hills to view it. As if the stars were aligning, the countryside showed itself off to us in all its Borders glory: the heather was in full August bloom, numerous grouse floated through the spectacular purple haze and the sun literally sparkled off the Whiteadder Reservoir. Suffice to say that we were pretty much hooked before we had even turned into the drive. Dazzled by the beautiful symmetrical façade of the Manse, the romance of the walled garden and the quaint Romanesque Church just beyond, we both knew we wanted to be the ones to revive this lovely old Manse after it retired from its 300-year service to the Church.
You renovated the house from scratch to suit the needs of your growing family. When you started the process, could you immediately envisage how you wanted the house to look and feel once complete?
The ground floor of the Manse didn’t necessarily lend itself to the open plan living that makes life with young children that little bit easier. So, working with what we had, which was three rather dark and uninviting rooms, we first set about opening up the kitchen area allowing light to flood in from both sides. The inclusion of double doors opening out into the garden meant the kitchen now had lovely views out to our paddock and the hills beyond. The two reception rooms now needed their own identity providing both cosy family time and well-earned adult only space. We reopened the fire place in what was the dining room to create the cosy, intimate snug where many a glass of wine has been enjoyed beside the wood burner!
On our first night as proud new owners, we had our six-month-old but no heating or hot water. The open fire in the Drawing Room was our saviour that night and we have since made it the focal point of our smart entertaining space with a beautiful bespoke fender. In contrast to the cold feel of the local Scottish Whinstone that the house is built from, we wanted the interior of the house to feel warm and calming. We focused on a muted palate which I am naturally drawn to, alongside beautiful handmade curtains, large mirrors to throw the natural light and cosy footstools, cushions and throws to soften.
Cranshaws Manse flaunts a beautifully modern country interior. Do you have a favourite feature of the space you have created?
Without a doubt it must be the sweeping split staircase and landing, painted in Farrow and Ball’s serene Ammonite and grand enough to house a stunning 5ft mirror purchased in nearby Melrose. I feel calmed every time I walk up to the bedrooms and there is nowhere else in the world we sleep as well as we do here. For us, the peace and tranquillity of the surrounding countryside is most definitely reflected inside the house and most especially in the bedrooms.
The house is a wonderful place for precious together time. How do you and your family like to spend your stays there?
We have yet to decide which season we love the house in best. My husband would probably choose the end of the summer, heading into autumn when the scenery is truly spectacular, and we can start to think about filling the log baskets again and hunkering down in front of the fire. Our two children would vote for summertime spent at the house. Several hours can easily be whiled away in the huge sandpit my husband made for them a few summers ago. Our son has just got to the age where if he can spend a care free hour or so in our paddock flattening the moles hills, climbing trees or collecting firewood for the fire pit, he is blissfully happy. A short amble down to the stream with a picnic and his trusty net and a little boy’s perfect day is complete! The adults reward at the end of such adventures is a gin and tonic, a roaring fire pit and blissful silence save for the odd hoot of an owl.
For me, it is winter at the house I love the most. One of our best purchases was the fabulous Everhot range which looks after us in so many ways. Once we have thrown our snow sodden gloves over it to dry and sat down to hot cross buns toasted under its lids, everybody’s rosy glow starts to revive. With a dish in the slow oven for supper and the little ones tucked up in bed, it’s a glass of wine for us and a very contended dog snoozing as close to the Everhot as she can safely get!
Do you have a few tips for guests on your favourite places in the local area?
We are so lucky to have a house that feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere but is actually in the middle of everywhere! Once you have explored the 4 acres that surround the Manse, head less than two miles up the road to the glorious Whiteadder Reservoir for fantastic walking and picnicking. From April through to the end of September you can pack up your rod, buy a day pass at the reservoir and fish to your hearts content.
Head on another ten minutes beyond the Reservoir through the most spectacular countryside, with views out to Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth and you reach the lovely village of Gifford, which has a great playground, lovely local café and two pubs. The whole of the East Lothian coast is breath-taking but two particular highlights for our family are a visit to North Berwick, where we love the beach and sea pool, a coffee with a view at the Sea Life Centre and a boat trip out to see the puffins. The perfect daytrip ends with fish and chips on the beach. For a beautiful beach with unrivalled views, we head to Tantallon beach and castle with a hot flask and a picnic to soak up everything special about the area.
Within an hour you can enjoy everything that Edinburgh has to offer. There is so much more that we have yet to explore but so far, we can highly recommend: Edinburgh Castle of course, a hike up Arthur’s Seat on the site of one of Edinburgh’s extinct volcanoes, Victoria Street’s unique shopping and two fantastic restaurants, The Kitchin and the famous seafood at The Ship on the Shore.
Finally, could you sum up a stay at Cranshaws Manse in three words?
Thank you very much for taking the time to chat to us, Suzie. Your family time at Cranshaws Manse sounds beyond idyllic! We adore the space you've created and the feedback from our guests speaks for itself.
To find out more about Cranshaws Manse view the property page here.