Penny Churchill tours Surrey to choose the best of the country houses for sale in the early Spring market

After all those weeks of rain, the first burst of winter sunshine has been ‘a real mood-changer’ for the Surrey country houses market, reports a chirpy Richard Winter, who heads up Savills‘s residential operations in the county. ‘Since the sun came out, London buyers pondering that major 10-year move have been phoning to announce “this is the year that we actually get on and do it”.’

Mr Winter continues: ‘Already, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of buyers registering across our six Surrey offices-most of them Londoners who appear to have resumed their traditional migration southwards in search of greater value for money, more space, a better quality of life and good connections back to the City.’ On the other hand, international buyers have yet to make a move on Surrey this year, but a few may be coaxed out of hibernation by the early launch onto the market of a clutch of notable country houses, some of which haven’t figured in estate agents’ listings for several decades.

Trailing clouds of glory comes illustrious Headley Hallat Headley, near Leatherhead, for sale through Savills (020-7409 8823) at a guide price of £6 million. Built in the late 18th century on the site of an older timber-framed building called Tiewood, the hall, listed Grade II, and its surrounding estate were expanded by successive owners. The ballroom and staff wings were added shortly after the First World War and, with war looming in the late 1930s, racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell of Bluebird fame, who bought Headley Hall in 1935, made a number of changes to the house, including the construction of secure storage for his many racing trophies.

Headley Hall, Surrey country house
Headley Hall, £6m, Savills

In 1946, the estate-by now, 221 acres in size-was bought by the sporting Maharaja of Baroda, who kept his Derby horses in the grounds. When the notoriously spendthrift Maharaja sold Headley Hall in the 1950s, the estate was broken up and the house divided into three parts, although the staff wing was reintegrated with the main house in the 1960s.

The present owner, international businessman Bill Gerhauser-another keen racing man-bought the property in 1978, added the stable block, extended the grounds and laid out its 30 acres of railed paddocks. In 2001, the family also bought the former ballroom wing, then known as Cleaver House, since when the hall has been home to two generations of the Gerhauser family.

Although currently run as two separate houses, Headley Hall-set in 43 acres of extensive gardens, parkland, paddocks and woodland on the edge of Headley Common (now owned by the National Trust)-could easily revert back to a single family unit, says selling agent Phillippa Dalby-Welsh. In its present incarnation, the 10,348sq ft house, with its wonderful ‘retro’ ambience, offers two grand reception rooms, a ballroom, two sitting rooms, a family room, two kitchen/breakfast rooms, three cellars, eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and an integral three-bedroom annexe. Outdoor amenities include stabling for 12 horses, a heated outdoor pool and a tennis court.

Surrey is synonymous with Arts-and-Crafts architecture and Savills quote a guide price of £7.95m for majestic Milhanger, with 75 acres, near the National Trust enclave of Thursley and 10 miles from Guildford station. Built in the grand Edwardian manner in 1907, to the design of master Arts-and-Crafts architect Harold Falkner, the property was extended by Roger Taylor, the drummer of rock group Queen, during his tenure between 1979 and 2003, when he sold Milhanger to its current owners.

Milhanger, country houses Surrey
Milhanger, £7.5m, Savills

With 17,755sq ft of living space on three main floors, the main house alone can cater for the most extended and disparate of families. Accommodation includes elegant formal reception rooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room that is the heart of the house, a 74ft-long library/entertainment room, a huge leisure and swimming-pool complex, six first-floor bedrooms and a vast master suite on the second floor. Staff are housed in a two-bedroom cottage attached to the main house, with further guest accommodation provided in the picturesque, four-bedroom Cosford Mill, a converted former watermill with its own access drive.

The trio of Savills Surrey showstoppers is completed by this week’s launch, at a guide of ‘offers in excess of £2m’, of historic Pendell House in the popular commuter village of Bletchingley, four miles from Redhill.

Pendell House, Surrey country houses
Pendell House, £2m, Savills

Set in nearly three acres of gardens, with further land available by separate negotiation, Pendell House, listed Grade I, was allegedly built in 1636 by the architect Inigo Jones (a fact curiously unsupported by its English Heritage listing) in the English Renaissance style for Richard Glydd, master of the Guild of Tallow-Chandlers, and partly remodelled in the 18th century. The accommodation includes four reception rooms, a study, a custom-built Clive Christian kitchen/breakfast room, eight bedrooms and six bath/shower rooms. The walled grounds include an Elizabethan knot garden, a vegetable garden, a heated swimming pool, outbuildings and a hard tennis court in need of renovation.

Osbrooks, Surrey country houses

Osbrooks, £2.45m, Hamptons International

Another historic Surrey manor that has weathered the centuries well is Grade II-listed Osbrooks, which stands in 14 acres of sheltered gardens and woodland, just south of the village of Capel, near Dorking. First mentioned in association with Robert de Upbroke in 1282, the present building is thought to have been a 15th-century hall, becoming a smoke-bay house with a late-16th century wing. A further extension was added in the early 20th century by the Arts-and-Crafts architect Detmar Blow. Currently for sale through Hamptons International in Dorking (01306 885466) at a guide price of £2.45m, family-friendly Osbrooks has three main reception rooms, a study, a playroom, a kitchen/breakfast room, a large master suite and six further bedrooms.

And, as no fine Surrey house would be complete without a Jekyll garden, Osbrooks can at least lay claim to a part of the formal gardens that are instantly recognisable as being the work of The Lady of Godalming.

Michael Parry-Jones of Surrey agents Grantley (01483 893939) has seen a sharp rise in the number of London families looking for village houses with a five-mile radius of the cathedral city of Guildford, with its unbeatable combination of excellent schools and high-speed commuter connections. The importance of both these factors is reflected in the high prices sought and paid for good family houses with relatively little land, compared with other less accessible parts of the county.

Rosemary Hill, Grantley, Surrey country houses
Rosemary Hill, £4.5m, Grantley

Grantley quote a guide price of £4.5m for the substantial, 6,500sq ft Rosemary Hill, which stands in two-thirds of an acre of lovely private gardens in the village of Blackheath, surrounded by 30,000 acres of heathland. Another classic Arts-and-Crafts house, originally built for Mrs Dyke in 1885 by the architect Charles Harrison Townsend and later extended, Rosemary Hill has been totally refurbished and cleverly extended by its current owners, who bought it five years ago and, in time-honoured fashion, are now moving further out. The house has five reception rooms, a splendid Thomas Ford bespoke kitchen, a master suite, six double bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms.

Carpenter's Field, Grantley, Surrey country houses
Carpenter’s Field, £3.5m, Grantley

The same agents quote a guide price of £3.5m for another handsome Arts-and-Crafts house, Carpenters Field at Puttenham, five miles west of Guildford, which stands in 16 acres of gardens and paddocks off a quiet no-through lane at the edge of the village. The 5,382sq ft main house, which has planning consent to extend to more than 8,000sq ft, and its detached two-bedroom cottage, were both built in 1913.

The house has three light and airy main reception rooms, a garden room, a large kitchen/breakfast room, a spacious master suite, five further bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms.

These are all some fantastic country houses for sale in Surrey.

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