Prestige property: rich in history and horticulture

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

The property borders a church and the ruins of a 15th-century fortified tower, but the story doesn’t end there. The area is known for its Neolithic forts and was one of the first places where feudal law was established by David I, King of Scotland in the 12th century. In fact, Covington was founded by one of his Flemish Knights.

However, current owners Angus and Angela Milner-Brown chose it for its location – Angus has traveled all over Scotland working for Sothebys and Angela is a researcher with the Royal Society – but also for the house itself.

Register to our daily newsletter

Angus recalls, “As soon as we walked in and saw the spiral stone staircase, we knew it was the right one.”

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

But when the Milner-Browns bought the B-listed building, its substance was intact but it had been neglected. Angus recalls, “When we moved in it quickly faded and the garden was ignored. It was quite a job putting it back together.”

An early discovery for the couple was a second stone staircase that had been cordoned off. It was restored and so the house now has two – one in the middle and one in the tower. It provides flexible accommodation that could be described as a separate guest wing.

According to Angus, to understand Covington’s floorplan, one must know his history. He explains: “We believe the house dates from 1760 mainly because it doesn’t appear on maps before that, but older parts suggest the re-use of an earlier building.

“The porch looks like it’s from the 17th century and maybe even from somewhere else. In 1800 the tower and saloon wing were added.”

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

There is also an Edwardian wing which is now the kitchen of the house but originally housed a Sunday school. Angus says: “The countertops are manufactured by Dunedin Stone. Angela and I visited in 2010 and chose the granite from huge slabs including a recessed drain board that was quite difficult to cut in granite.”

Also, the bathrooms have been replaced, all of which are now Hansgrohe, and the Mozolowski and Murray conservatory is a lovely place to relax.

The old school bell was kept by the back door – handy for calling in people from the vast garden and grounds which span seven acres and saw a lot of work put into it.

Angus explains, “We acquired the Glebe from the church and planted it as a wildflower meadow with over 50 varieties to attract bees.”

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

Angus, himself a beekeeper, produced 180 jars of honey last year and is delighted to have attracted a species. “We have a colony of bees mining chocolate right now. They are harmless but extremely good pollinators.”

Angela has planted an alpine garden, a ferny and a hosta garden, while Angus does the landscaping, trees and has created a lily pond. The results are so impressive that Covington has been part of the Scotland Gardens Scheme for a number of years.

The walled garden is a highlight, but it has taken years of painstaking work to restore. A polytunnel, fruit cages and vegetable patches provide year-round produce, supplemented by eggs from Milner-Brown’s ducks and chickens.

Angus now has his own business, Covington Fine Arts, and he and Angela plan to downsize, but not without regrets. As he says, “Our hearts don’t want to leave because we love it here, but with our minds we know it’s time to devote more time to building the business.”

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

For more information, contact Rettie & Co. on 0131-624 9068.

Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar
Covington House, Thankerton, by Biggar

Leave a Comment