Sir Patrick Stewart bid a tearful farewell to his Yorkshire Dales bolt hole after it went under offer to a local man who has dreamed of owning it since he was a boy.
The celebrated stage actor, who became an international film star playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, bought Scar Top House 25 years ago at the height of his Hollywood fame.
He put the secluded home on the market for £535,000 with Dale Eddison last month and, after a flurry of viewings, he agreed to sell it to someone who has long admired the secluded, stone-built property in Hebden, near Grassington.
Estate agent Amanda May, manager of Dale Eddison's Skipton branch, said: “We had a lot of interest from all over the country but particularly from the north. A sale has been agreed with a local Dalesman who has wanted to own the house since he was a little boy. It’s a lovely story. Sir Patrick came to say farewell to the house and it was quite emotional.” She adds: “There was a fair bit of disappointment from people who didn’t end up being the buyer. We conducted well over 30 viewings and there were five people who wanted to buy it. “
The half mile track leading to the house was a turn-off for some would-be buyers but is one of the main reasons why Sir Patrick bought the four-bedroom property. He wanted an escape from the spotlight and came up with the idea of buying a country home in his native Yorkshire when driving down a fume-filled highway in Los Angeles.
“I was pretty much resident in LA by then thanks to the filming but as I drove into the smog I was suddenly gripped by the thought of buying a house in the Yorkshire Dales. It was bizarre. I was fearful of losing myself to Hollywood in the way I’d seen other British stage actors do and I wanted a toehold in England, somewhere to come home to.”
The Mirfield-born actor found himself longing for the feelings of contentment he experienced as a teenager in the 1950s when he cycled out into the Dales on his push bike, leaving the mines and the mills of his home town far behind.
“The Dales captured my heart from a very young age,” said Sir Patrick.
His brother, who still lived in Yorkshire, lined up a series of homes for him to view, including Scar Top House. It offered everything he craved. Remote and surrounded by moorland, it gave him seclusion, sensational views and it was a world away from the Hollywood spotlight.
“It was more remote than I envisaged but the views are amazing and it is very private, which has been helpful,” he said.
He invited his family in England to draw up a holiday rota so the house could be used when he wasn’t there. When he was, it was quite often alone. There were times when he would fly from LA to London before taking a plane to Leeds-Bradford airport and then a taxi to Hebden, just to spend a day at Scar Top. “It was madness but the draw of the house was so powerful. It was my bolthole, my retreat. I loved being in that landscape and I enjoyed hiking. I’d go for 20-mile hikes and not see another person. The local people were very respectful of my privacy too, especially the wonderful couple who had the Post Office. Visitors used to ask them where I lived and they’d say ‘he doesn’t live round here’.”
Back in America, where he has just filmed the third Wolverine movie and episodes of TV series Blunt Talk, his Dales home has helped him to sleep. He imagines himself walking up the track and is in the Land of Nod before he gets to the top.
After buying the property, he insulated the roof, furnished with oak furniture from nearby Grassington company Royal Oak and converted a barn into a garage. More recently, he has used the the house less, which is why he is selling it.
He now divides his time between a home in the Cotswolds, close to stage work, and a property in Brooklyn, which he shares with his wife, singer-songwriter Sunny Ozell.
Sir Patrick still has close ties to Yorkshire and will not be a stranger to his home county. He still has family here, supports Huddersfield University, where he was Chancellor, and is a Huddersfield Town football club fan.