In Competition No. 2548 you were invited to submit sales particulars for a property well known in literature in your best estate-agent-ese. It was a capacious entry, which benefited from unrivalled clichés and florid, tautological prose. You aped the estate agent’s way of accentuating the positive well. We all know that ‘bijou’ translates as ‘broom cupboard’ and that ‘convenient for motorway access’ would be more accurately rendered as ‘suitable for the hard of hearing’. I was tempted to put in an offer on St Simeon Stylites’ pillar, described thus by Elizabeth Emerk: ‘Pillars for Pillocks is pleased to offer this unique detached dwelling near old Antioch — effectively a sublimely minimalist penthouse 60 ft high consisting of a wonderful 12 sq ft balustraded platform offering clear and unobstructed views of the ground’. But she didn’t quite make the £25-winning line-up. A special mention to Alanna Blake, whose estate-agent-speak I found even more convincing than fellow competitor Lesley Gammie’s, who is one. This week’s top dog is Adrian Fry, who gets £30.
Situated mere inches by map from the Yorkshire village of Dotheboys, the Hall is an exceptionally well ventilated, partially fenestrated, generously irrigated country residence in which rusticity and ruggedness marry to produce a clean slate on which prospective buyers have every opportunity to write. Originally conceived as a smallholding, it has more recently risen to the status of educational establishment, a cloister of academe bearing witness to the happiest days in the lives of its charges, not uncoincidental with their intellectual enrichment. The previous owners have sought wherever possible to retain the original features of the buildings and such alterations as have been made exhibit the charmingly naive approach so typical of and charming in the young. The Schoolroom, indeed, is a conversation point; capacious yet minimalistically furnished, the walls fascinatingly etched with the monograms of earlier residents, an inspirational antidote to the inexplicable absence of a library.