The word 'home' carries with it a suggestion of something compact; something warm and tight-knit and cosy. Something to be owned. One of Lancashire's finest properties, Hay Carr is a £4m, 50-room monster. It is there to admired and gawped at; explored and filled with things only of a certain pedigree so as not to offend it. It's not a home, it's a house, and a proper one at that.
Comfortably one of the most decadent and lovely buildings in the North West, Hay Carr is a picture of extravagance with class oozing out of every one of its five bedrooms and three storeys of space, light, and quality. Tracing its 269-year history back to the agricultural pioneer Thomas Lamb in 1750, it is far from a relic and has morphed into a true 21st century wonder.
First thing is first. This is a house so big that despite once being part of an even larger estate when it belonged to the Sandeman Port family, its 54-acre garden comes with planning permission for a cricket pitch. All five bedrooms come with en suites, while the rest of the house boasts features such as extensive library space, a huge palm house, and a yew maze.
Head up the private driveway - one almost feels as if they're obliged to approach Hay Carr by horse wearing regal livery - and over the Grade II-listed bridge crossing the Lancaster Canal and you'll eventually catch sight of Hay Carr. And provided you like a grand facade, hardwood flooring, elegant masonry, turrets, and Downton Abbey-esque visages, this property will impress.
Inevitably calmed by the thwack of the sounds of tennis balls coming from the all-weather court round back, any lucky owners entering the opulent porch will be greeted by a reception hall boasting an open limestone fireplace before they get to choose between the snug sitting room, a south-facing drawing room, or a decadent dining room. Tough choice.
Seating 14 people, the dining room looks like something out of The Beast's castle from the famous fairytale, and while the candelabra may not bust into song, the bay window does provide a luxurious spot from which to gaze broodingly when the skies are bruised with clouds and you feel a little frustrated at how much Sunday dinner you just forced down when we all know there's apple pie and custard to come. We've all been there.
A book-lover's dream, Hay Carr's library is a stunning feature. Divided into two separate rooms joined by a glass walkway - of particular interest to fans of pathetic fallacy who fancy a bit of Dracula under the stars - the thickly-stocked shelves can't help but invite a peruse of The Picture of Dorian Grey to the adjoining orangery or of George RR Martin's works in the Game of Thrones-y rose garden. Think King's Landing, but in Lancaster.
Flagged with weathered tiles, the kitchen looks like something straight out of a Beatrix Potter story, only on a much larger scale complete with bespoke cabinets, a plate-warmer, and a instant hot water tap. And if hot water isn't your thing, then a wine cellar and wine-tasting room may tickle your fancy when it comes to your imbibing habits - just be sure not to have too many as the master bedroom is upstairs and only accessible via a cantilevered staircase: tipsy folk's natural enemy.
On the staircase, tower windows give you a nice view of your private lake, boathouse, and the Forest of Bowland as you (I assume) dance with happiness up to the first floor and the main landing, off of which emerge four large bedrooms as well as the master suite, which has its own fireplace and spacious en suite with a stand-alone bath and his-and-her sinks.
Upstairs once again, and you'll find the house's cinema room, and - sticking with the literary theme - a far more welcoming use of the attic than that made famous in Jane Eyre, dear reader. Naturally, the property is linked by a Sonos audio system, which includes invisible speakers in the reception hall and drawing room, as well as a monitored CCTV and alarm system.
As if such riches weren't enough, Hay Carr also comes with extensive stable space, a large barn, an encircling horse riding circuit, a tack room, the current housekeeper's quarters, and a gardener's office. Oh, and another two-bedroom cottage as well - because why not? - accessed via a charming wisteria walk like something straight out of Harry Potter.
There aren't very many other ways to say this: the house is pretty damn impressive.
For more information, head to https://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/49841964?search_identifier=fa3f36859ac855ee4f509685206f5ffe