SEARCHING for a little seasonal spice just before Christmas, we threw out Christmas House, a good-looking property in Newbiggin, Richmond, with an intriguing name.

It was built around 1800 for Dr James Burchall, and throughout time it has been referred to numerically as No 11 Newbiggin rather than by the festive name on the plaque beside its front door.

Thanks to all who sought to answer our conundrum, including Jane Hatcher of Richmond, Elaine Francis of Bellerby and even a Richmond postlady from the 1970s, but the story should probably come from the horse’s mouth.

“The Johns family read with interest, and had a little giggle, at your Christmas poser,” says Chris Johns. “In 1989, my parents – Sue and Roy Johns – had stopped off in Richmond on their way to the Lake District from Essex. They parked in Newbiggin, and were instantly smitten.

“Dad was then made redundant from the print industry and so we moved up to Richmond and in to the house on Newbiggin in August 1990. After four months of extensive building and renovation work, the house was completed and it looked fantastic. It was nearing Christmas, and the house looked really inviting and cosy from the outside. Mum thought it had a Christmasy feel about it, so she went to the local hardware store, and had a plaque made up bearing the name “Christmas House”.

“Soon after it went up, we had a delivery man at the front door asking if Father Christmas was in!

“Around Easter 1991, my parents opened Christmas House guest house, with six letting rooms, four with en suite. They sold up in 1993, and although Dad sadly passed away a couple of years ago, but my Mum and brother have moved to Ravensworth and next year, I celebrate my 30th anniversary in Richmond.”

He finishes: “I wish that I could offer you a historical tale as to the meaning of Christmas House, but I'm afraid that it is as simple as this.”

The current owners, Rachel and Colin Chitty, said: “We moved in in 1993 and didn’t see the point in losing the name – it has certainly helped our visitors to find us!”