The latest report from Strutt & Parker on the state of the market for farms and estates shows a substantial rise in the acreage of fresh land being offered for sale between July and September 2010, compared with the same period last year: 41,334 acres this year versus 25,577 acres in 2009. But it’s not all been ‘the right kind of land’ apparently, as Mark McAndrew of Strutt & Parker explains.
‘Due to the relative recovery in the housing market in the first half of 2010, the greatest increase in supply has been for residential farms with a significant house and 150-250 acres of land, whereas the greatest demand is for large blocks of ring-fenced, arable land, from 800 acres upwards. And with lifestyle purchasers being fussier than usual, especially at the upper end of the market, matching buyers and sellers can be a delicate and time-consuming process.’
Yet farmers and lifestyle buyers are still prepared to go head to head for the very best properties. Strutt & Parker recently sold the classic residential and arable Broadstone Manor estate in Oxfordshire at a guide price of £8 million to a lifestyle buyer, after strong competition from farmers. And the 786-acre Grove estate near Colchester, on the Essex/Suffolk border, has gone under offer within weeks, for more than the £10 million guide price, joint-agents Savills and Strutt & Parker reveal.
In a marriage made in farming heaven, a lifestyle purchaser is buying the immaculate, nine-bedroom, Grade II-listed main house with the stabling, cottages, converted farm buildings and 25 acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks, and a farmer is taking on the modern farm buildings and the productive farmland and woodland.
A classic small sporting estate oozing with lifestyle appeal is the 208-acre Kingston Wood Manor estate at Arrington (pictured), near Royston, Hertfordshire, for which Carter Jonas (01733 588660) quote a guide price of £7.5 million. Set in an oasis of gardens, paddocks and woodland, 14 miles from Cambridge and 55 miles from London, the heart of the estate is the Grade II*-listed Kingston Wood Manor, which dates from the late 15th century, with 18th-century and later additions.
From 1625 onwards, the manor passed through various hands, becoming part of Lord Hartley’s Wimpole Hall estate in 1717. Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke, bought the Kingston Wood estate with Wimpole in 1739, and, by the mid 19th century, Lord Hardwicke was the major landowner of the parish. In 1904, Kingston Wood was bought by Sir Alexander Reid, who restored the house, and, with Lady Reid, created the moated water gardens.
The estate was eventually broken up and sold off in 1992-93. Kingston Wood has always had a famous pheasant shoot, a tradition that the current owner, William Topham, has developed to include stalking of fallow deer and muntjac. In addition to the seven-bedroom manor house, the sale includes four cottages, extensive farm buildings and workshops, 122 acres of woodland, 34 acres of paddocks and 33 acres of arable land.
Down in West Sussex, Knight Frank are testing the top end of the residential market with the sale of secluded Grouselands with 213 acres at Colgate, near Horsham, at a guide price of £6 million. Owned by successive generations of the same family, the heart of the estate is a classic period, but unlisted, family house, with four main reception rooms, six bedrooms and five bathrooms-all in really good order, says selling agent Will Matthews.
The immediate grounds are beautifully laid out and include a pool, a tennis court and a newly refurbished stable yard; three cottages double up as staff accommodation or extra guest cottages. Out of sight of the main house is an old farmyard with ‘huge potential’ for redevelopment. Beyond, a patchwork of paddocks, parkland, woods and farmland slopes down into the valley below.
Further west, Strutt & Parker (01722 328741) are selling historic, 242-acre Alham Farm near the picturesque village of Batcombe, Somerset, for the first time ever, either in its entirety or in five lots, at a guide price of £2.1 million for the whole.
The farm was gifted to the Bath-based St John’s Hospital some time between 1192 and 1206 by Bishop Savaric Fitzgoldwin, and the original deed lodged in Lambeth Palace makes this 800-year period of continuous ownership one of the longest documented in the country. Alham Farm has been a tenanted working dairy farm for many years, and has only come to the market following the current tenant’s decision to call it a day.
The 3,680sq ft main farmhouse, built of stone under a slate roof and listed Grade II-‘much grander than the average tenant’s house,’ says selling agent Kevin Prince-has well-proportioned rooms and a newly refurbished kitchen. A range of modern and traditional farm buildings, surrounded by rolling grassland, has potential for a variety of alternative uses.
Grander still, yet unlisted, is Edwardian Crendle Court with 270 acres at Purse Caundle, four miles from Sherborne, Dorset, which has been let on a short three-year tenancy and is now for sale through Savills (01722 426820) at a guide price of £6.95 million for the whole, or in four lots, with the main house, three cottages, stabling, outbuildings and 88 acres on offer at £4.75m.
A near neighbour of the classic Georgian Ven House, Crendle Court was built in 1909 for the Hon Mrs A. Ker by Yorkshire architect Walter H. Brierley, dubbed ‘the Yorkshire Lutyens’. The elaborate ornamental plasterwork on the ceilings of the main reception rooms is the work of George Bankart. The house has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a study, eight bedrooms and five bath/shower rooms.
Farms expert Penny Dart of Savills in Exeter (01392 455755) has been enjoying a really good run in the market this year. She is handling the sale of idyllic, 151-acre Trepoyle, near Holsworthy, Devon, nine miles from the north Cornish coast, at a guide price of £1.85 million for the whole. For many years, the farm was home to a well-known herd of South Devon cattle until the death of its late owner a few years ago, since when the rich grassland has been rented by his widow to a neighbouring farmer.
A disused canal links three main areas of mature broadleaved woodland and water meadows along the banks of the Tamar on the eastern edge of the farm, which enjoys single-bank fishing and shooting rights along the length of the river.
The Georgian main farmhouse has three/four reception rooms, a conservatory, three main bedrooms, three bathrooms, an integral one-bedroom flat and a separate two-bedroom cottage. The farmyard includes an outstanding complex of versatile livestock buildings.