At the turn of the 20th century there were many more stately homes in the UK. Society was different and wealth was held by a few with the majority of the population earning comparatively little. As labour was cheap, having the large numbers of employees that enabled large homes to be maintained and run was not a considerable expense. Indeed, in many communities they were the only/main employer of the neighbourhood.Though sadly not all were happy places, many were. In a time before any sort of welfare state, employees generally had doctors bills, free schooling for their kids, a home, food, and pension provided and there tended to be a strong sense of community amongst those that worked there.The change in the fortunes for these big houses really happened in the first half of the 20th century. During the First World War (1914 to 1918) the horrors of No Mans Land wiped out men in their droves. Many families lost a father and several sons in quick succession leaving them forced to pay double or treble death duties.The Second World War (1939 to 1945) created even more problems and the shortage of people to do a job not only drove women into employment but also drove salaries up, and by the end of the Second World War, having lost so many men, the UK needed all hands on deck. And that deck wasn't maintaining a great dinosaur of a building. They became very much surplus to requirement but, as they generally sat in the middle an estate of land of hundreds or thousands of acres, most landowners were reluctant to sell the land they sat on; they just wanted them to 'go away'.It is believed that around 1,784 houses have been demolished, blown up, torn down or, in some cases, just abandoned, allowing nature to claim back the land whilst the families who once lived in them moved into much smaller accommodation that they could afford to upkeep elsewhere on the estate.Then, in 1950 the listing of buildings was introduced. This protected about half a million buildings in the land, claiming them as monuments that needed to be preserved for generations to come, to ensure our country's history and heritage is there for the future.And that's where Grade 2* listed Rise Hall comes in.Surplus to requirements after the 2nd World War, it was rented out as a convent who opened the house as a girls boarding school. 50 years on, with limited money available to be spent on the house, it began to creak with the strain of skeleton maintenance and the nuns moved out. Whereupon it lay dormant and empty for 10 years, with the owners desperately searching for something to do with it. Nobody wanted to rent it - flats didn't stack up - and eventually they decided to sell it before the roof caved in completely.We took on the property in it's crumbling state ten years ago and have lived there very happily.We took on the major challenge of restoring the property to get it ready for weddings, events and film shoots and have now renovated most of the main living areas and have over 30 bedrooms in full working order. There is still ongoing work required, but this may help to create some character for shoots etc.