Having outperformed most other parts of the UK in 2010, the residential-property market in the eastern region is set to maintain a steady course in 2011, according to the latest research from Bidwells. Recent sightings of the year’s first London buyers-for now, more of a trickle than a full-blown tidal wave-have boosted the confidence of local agents, for whom last winter seemed never-ending.
Equally encouraging, perhaps, is the increasingly rapid turnover of houses at the upper end of the market, as home owners move on, or trade down, more quickly than ever before. After all, in such a relatively small marketplace, it’s as rewarding to sell one house three times in 10 or 20 years as to sell three different houses over the same period.
Norfolk agent Nigel Steele of Jackson-Stops & Staff (01603 612333) is handling the sale of Grade II-listed Foulden Hall near Thetford for the third time in the past 20 years. This time round, he quotes a guide price of £2.5 million for the splendid Elizabethan hall with early Victorian additions, set in 20 acres of gardens, woodland and paddocks, which was originally part of the 7,000-acre Didlington estate.
The present owners, who bought the hall some six years ago, have totally renovated the property, which now has five reception rooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, a converted five-bedroom coach house and a three-bedroom cottage. The focal point of the main house is a wonderful Elizabethan staircase thought to have come from Didlington Hall, which was demolished in the early 1950s.
The gardens and grounds at Foulden are a delight, and include a heated pool and a hard tennis court, both completely refurbished in recent years. Mr Steele is confident of making this a four-timer, even in the current lazy market, thanks, he says, to an unashamedly terrier-like approach, which means snapping at the heels of dithering buyers to help them make up their minds.
Mark Oliver of Savills in Ipswich (01473 234830) is selling elegant Bretteston Hall at Stanstead, near Long Melford, Suffolk, for the second time since October 2003, when it was bought by its present owner, entrepreneur James Horne, well-known to shooting enthusiasts for his popular GunsOnPegs website, which buys and sells shooting days on estates throughout the UK. Now their children are grown up, Mr Horne and his wife, Alison, plan to buy a bigger house in London and a smaller country house in the West Country.
Mr Oliver quotes a guide price of ‘excess £3.5m’ for Bretteston Hall, an impressive, Queen Anne-fronted country house with 17th-century interiors, set in 24 acres of immaculate grounds that include two walled gardens originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll, an orchard, a tennis court, parkland, formal gardens and paddocks. Sir Edwin Lutyens is also known to have worked on the house in the early 1900s. ‘Mr and Mrs Horne have done an enormous amount of work to the hall, renovating and extending the house and restoring and improving the gardens to five-star standard throughout,’ Mr Oliver reveals.
Bretteston Hall, listed Grade II, has four exceptionally fine oak-panelled reception rooms, four bedroom suites, a state-of-the-art family kitchen, four further bedrooms and a family bathroom; outbuildings include a former coach house converted to a one-bedroom cottage. Across the county border in Essex, Jeremy Smallman of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chelmsford (01245 467468) quotes a guide price of £5m for historic, Grade II-listed Abbots Hall with 52 acres at Shalford, near Braintree. Bought by its present owner in 2000, the impressive Georgian mansion, set in parkland and paddocks, is one of few brick country houses of that period in Essex.
Originally an ancient manor owned by St Osyth’s Abbey, Abbots Hall was granted by Henry VIII to his secretary, Thomas Cromwell, in April 1540, three months before Cromwell fell from favour and was beheaded, whereupon his estates became part of the marriage settlement of Henry’s fourth queen, Anne of Cleves.
The core of the hall was remodelled in 1823 and extended in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Marriott family, who lived there in some style from 1862 until 1919, when the estate was bought by Boer War hero Maj Guy Gilbey Gold, and sold by him after the Second World War. Over the past 10 years, the current owner has comprehensively restored and modernised the 11,377sq ft hall, which has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a gym, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and a two-bedroom guest apartment; there is also a five-bedroom converted coach house and a four-bedroom gate lodge. Amenities include stabling, a tennis court and a pool.
Having recently closed deals on Great Hockham Hall near Watton, south Norfolk, and Church Farmhouse at Saxling-ham, near Holt, at guide prices of £2.3m and £1m respectively, Strutt & Parker’s Norwich team are in buoyant mood. Their aim now is to continue their upward trajectory with the sale of Grade II-listed The Grove at Hardingham, near Hingham, south Norfolk, on offer at a guide price of £2m.
Last sold by Strutt & Parker (01603 617431) some 20 years ago, The Grove is a fine, timber-framed, early-17th-century house, re-faced in brick in 1880 by John Odin Taylor, who at that time was one of three major landowners in the area. Set in 25 acres of superb gardens, parkland, woodland and paddocks at the end of a long private drive, the house has been renovated in collegiate style to provide five reception rooms, a conservatory, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and two attic rooms. The Grove’s various outbuildings include a two-bedroom lodge and a substantial barn.