Country houses for sale

The best country house architects in Britain

Country Life is proud to present our updated list of the finest architects in Britain.

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If you’re considering serious work on your home, the golden rule is to look for someone with a track record in country-house projects of a scale and type similar to yours. Interview two or three, ideally on site so that you can see how the architect responds to the location as well as to you. Are they enthusiastic? Do they pick up on the cues of the landscape? Do you like them?

‘We often work with people to move forward to a “feasibility-sketch” stage, to make sure the relationship is working,’ says John Tehan of Smallwood Architects.

‘Even if clients are clear about what they want, most people will need to stand back and think about things once the process has started.’

He stresses the necessity of taking the time at this stage, because any changes later may be too late. ‘The system in this country means that your ideas need to be clear by the time you go to planning; there isn’t really the luxury of reconsidering later, because you’ve already had to commit in order to get permission,’ he explains.

An architect’s fee can vary, sometimes a fixed sum for a specific job, such as a feasibility sketch or a masterplan, or a percentage related to the cost of the build. This will vary depending upon the scope of the architect’s services and the scale, complexity and type of the project, but 10%–15% (on top of the build cost, plus VAT) may be considered a reasonable rule of thumb.

Tom Turner Architects – NEW ENTRY

Based in the East Sussex countryside, this young, small practice is fast earning a reputation for ‘new homes with an old soul’ — taking their inspiration from vernacular farmhouses, Jacobean manors and Georgian townhouses. Tom Turner turns his eye to refurbishments, extensions and new-builds across the South-East, blending a quiet simplicity in his designs with a deep understanding of the past and how historic properties can be successfully and sustainably adapted for contemporary life.

Describing his approach as ‘tradition evolved’, Mr Turner is a firm believer in breathing fresh life into a traditional context. Past projects include an extension to a 16th-century vernacular farmhouse on the edge of an ancient woodland, a new house on the banks of a lake in Surrey using materials informed by the surrounding farm buildings and a refurbishment of a listed Georgian house in West Sussex. ‘We like to strip things back to allow the bones of the buildings to speak for themselves, rather than overlaying too much over the top of their historic fabric.’

07570 977231;

ADAM Architecture

The directors lead a team of 100, divided between offices in Winchester and London. Sustainability and energy efficiency are now vitally important both for new-build projects and in improving existing, listed and historic buildings. Dr Martina Pacifici heads the sustainability team, ensuring that design and delivery of all the company’s projects are carried out in the most carbon-efficient manner. Work continues at the new urban extension at Nansledan in Newquay with the Duchy of Cornwall, the restoration and preservation of a number of listed or historic buildings and a variety of projects overseas.

01962 843843;

Spetchley Park has been brought to life by Adam Architecture

Donald Insall Associates

This leading architectural practice, now more than 60 years old and with nine offices around the UK, specialises in the care, repair and adaptation of historic buildings, as well as the design of new ones on sensitive sites. Recent projects include the restoration of the Grade II-listed pier in Colwyn Bay, Conwy; conservation work at Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire; and repair and restoration at Rivington Terraced Gardens on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire.

020–7245 9888;

Donald Insall Associates work at Orleans House. Credit: Morley Von Sternberg

Giles Quarme Architects

Giles Quarme and Natasha Brown run a historic building practice known for its sensitive alterations, extensions and traditionally designed new houses. Mr Quarme is the chair of Historic Buildings & Places and both are accredited in conservation. Projects include The Wiston Estate and Pitshill in West Sussex; Glynde Place, East Sussex; and Aston Hall, Shropshire; and the renovation of Paisley Museum, Glasgow.

Last year, the practice received the RIBA London Award for its work on J. M. Barrie’s house in London and a commendation in the Georgian Group Architectural Awards for the Henry VIII Gatehouse, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London EC1.

020–7582 0748;

Giles Quarme Architects played a lead role in the restoration and alteration of the Grade I-listed 16th-century Chilham Castle near Canterbury in Kent. Credit: Will Pryce/Country Life

Johnston Cave Associates

The practice is well respected for its sensitive design of substantial buildings in established settings and the integration of new ideas and modern services into old country houses. Current projects include the restoration of a Grade II*-listed house in Chelsea, west London, the transformation of a large country estate in Oxfordshire and new-build houses in Surrey and London.

01865 865165;

A Johnston Cave Associates project. Credit: William Pearce

Russell Taylor Architects

A respected expert on Georgian and Regency architecture, Russell Taylor’s Classical designs range from new houses, orangeries and garden pavilions to individual components, such as chimneypieces, fitted furniture and architectural details. The practice has a track record in adapting historic and listed houses to modern living, including reviving major houses across Somerset, Cornwall and London.

020–7261 1984; 01503 273092;

Credit: Russell Taylor Architects

Smallwood Architects

A strong player in the world of country houses, Smallwood is known for the remodelling of historic houses and the building of new ones, with an understanding of what is required to create successful and sustainable buildings. The firm has offices in London and the West Country and takes on medium-to-large projects across the UK, Ireland and beyond.

020–7376 5744;

Adam Richards Architects

Adam Richards has studios in London and West Sussex. He has designed a number of award-winning projects, including Nithurst Farm, his own home in West Sussex, which is the subject of a forthcoming book published by Lund Humphries with essays by Jeremy Musson and Geoff Dyer. Projects include a Grade II*-listed London house by John Nash.

020–7613 5077;

Ben Pentreath

Ben Pentreath’s studio, now numbering 40 staff, works on a wide variety of projects throughout the UK, including new country houses, listed buildings, decoration projects in London and throughout the country and new urban developments, including 6,000 homes at Welborne, Hampshire. Increasingly, it is working overseas in Italy, Austria, Australia, New Zealand and the US. This autumn sees the publication of Mr Pentreath’s long-awaited monograph, An English Vision, published by Rizzoli, which describes the studio’s design work and philosophy over the past two decades, written and photographed entirely by Mr Pentreath, and with a foreword by the Earl of Moray.

020–7430 2424;

Ben Pentreath’s studio spans architecture, urban planning and interior design

Benjamin Tindall Architects

Renowned for repairs and alterations to historic buildings, the firm offers a full range of services, from landscaping to the design of light fittings, furniture and ironmongery. Notable projects include the restoration of a significant Arts-and-Crafts house in the Channel Islands, Bonnington House at the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, Edinburgh, and the historic almshouses of Cowane’s Hospital in Stirling.

0131–220 3366;

Craig Hamilton Architects

Craig Hamilton Architects is an award-winning architectural practice led by Craig Hamilton and Dr Gail Kenton. Recent projects comprise several country houses and estate masterplans in the Cotswolds and the South of England. US commissions include two large country houses in Texas. The practice is renowned for designing and creating distinctive, finely detailed buildings.

01982 553312;

Francis Terry and Associates

Francis Terry is an award-winning architect, renowned for designing country houses in the Classical style. The practice specialises in gaining planning consent for difficult sites and only works on a few country houses at any one time to ensure that the designs are carefully considered.

01206 580528;


Specialists in the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings in Scotland and Ireland for more than 40 years, this Edinburgh-based practice, formerly known as Groves-Raines Architects Studios, is developing a reputation for progressive new houses. Recent projects include Kyle House and Lundies House on the Wildland estates in the Scottish Highlands and Lamb’s House, an architectural gem in Leith, Edinburgh.

0131–467 7777;

Hoare, Ridge & Morris

Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge run the creative practice they founded with Charles Morris, designing alterations and additions to country houses, as well as new buildings with traditional character and high-energy performance. Among many other projects, the practice has designed and overseen the building of a new shop for the gardens at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.

01728 688747;

Ian Adam-Smith Architects

English country-house specialist Ian Adam-Smith, his son Mungo and their team concentrate primarily on private houses and estates in West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. The practice has taken on important houses by Lutyens and Voysey and has a particular skill in creating new houses rich in architectural detail that appear to have evolved over the centuries. Mr Adam-Smith is also working on a number of projects in Barbados.

01428 644644;

Ian Adam-Smith and his team work on many private homes in the Home Counties.

John Simpson Architects

A leading proponent of New Classicism, John Simpson is known for both residential and institutional designs, including a new building in Kensington for the Royal College of Music and the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in Nottinghamshire (COUNTRY LIFE, January 2, 2019).

020–7405 1285;

Marc Deaves Architect

An imaginative country-house expert who handles a small number of projects each year, Marc Deaves’s projects include a Wiltshire rectory with 13th-century origins and a historic country-house refurbishment in the Cotswolds, balancing the use of traditional craft skills with modern technologies appropriate to a zero-carbon age, as well as projects for London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor estates.

07970 458025;

McLean Quinlan

Mother and daughter Fiona McLean and Kate Quinlan run this award-winning family practice alongside Kate’s husband, Alastair Bowden. With studios in Winchester and London, they are known for designing contemporary new-build houses with a pared-back beauty. Past projects by the team include a three-bedroom, low-energy house in south-west London, which features very high levels of insulation and discreetly integrated solar panels.

020–8870 8600;

Peregrine Bryant Architects

Renowned for scholarly restorations of historic buildings, Peregrine Bryant was the winner of the Georgian Group 2021 Award for Restoration of a Country House for Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire. The practice — together with many other projects — continues to work at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3, notably on the adaptation of Sir John Soane’s Grade II*-listed Stable Block to new uses.

020–7384 2111;

Philip Hughes Associates

Established in 1982 by chartered building surveyor Philip Hughes, the practice offers both surveying and architectural services, counting the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust among its clients. Current projects include an extensive programme of adaptation and repair at a beautiful Grade I-listed Dorset country house, ongoing phased repairs at Corfe Castle in Dorset, maintenance work at Downside Abbey near Bath and work at the Russell-Cotes Museum in Bournemouth.

01963 824240;

Ptolemy Dean Architects

Historic-building conservationist, author and television presenter Ptolemy Dean is the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, a post once held by Sir Christopher Wren. This summer sees the publication of his new book, Streetscapes, by Lund Humphries. Mr Dean will examine how topography, layout and key buildings choreograph visual interest and the way that we are able to find our way and navigate ourselves through them.

020–7378 7714;


This internationally renowned architectural and heritage-consultancy practice has 10 studios across the UK, plus others in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. Its forte is bringing contemporary design solutions to historic environments, such as the revitalisation of a derelict site in Cornwall to create a new county archive, Kresen Kernow, and the transformation of the historic thatched barn into a visitor centre at Christ Church College in Oxford. The practice has also recently completed a strategic masterplan for Elizabethan Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and work on Boston Manor in Brentford (Renewal and recovery).

020–7397 7171;

Quinlan Terry Architects

This practice, led by Quinlan Terry and partners Roger Barrell and Eric Cartwright, is known for designing ​timeless residential​ and public buildings that​ are in sympathy with their surroundings. ​In addition, the company works on the restoration and alteration of existing buildings. Recently completed work includes private houses in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

01206 323186;

Kilboy in Co Tipperary in Ireland, rebuilt by Quinlan and Francis Terry. ©Will Pryce for the Country Life Picture Library

Richard Parr Associates

Founded by Richard Parr in 1994, this architectural practice is known for its ‘modern traditionalist’ approach to residential and hospitality projects around the UK, with a wealth of expertise in the Cotswolds and a strong reputation for reinventing historically sensitive sites. It has recently completed the refurbishment of a 17th-century manor house, complete with Arts-and-Crafts additions, in Gloucestershire, and sensitively transformed an original farm hamlet into 17 hotel-room suites with a restaurant, indoor pool and spa to become the Farmyard at The Newt in Somerset.

01453 860200;

Simon Morray-Jones

Well known for his passionate conservation of historic properties in Bath, where he is based, Simon Morray-Jones has almost 40 years of experience of restoration, conservation and new-builds. Most recently, the practice has completed the main house and spa for The Newt hotel in Somerset and is working on private country houses in Hampshire, Devon and the Cotswolds.

01225 787900;

Simpson & Brown Architects

Established in 1977, Simpson & Brown is an Edinburgh-based multidisciplinary practice specialising in architecture, archaeology and heritage consultancy. It continues to be involved in a number of historic sites, including Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders, the former Royal High School in Edinburgh and Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Most recently, the practice led the transformation of the ruined Fairburn Tower in the Scottish Highlands into a holiday let for the Landmark Trust and completed the award-winning restoration of Asknish House in Argyll into an energy-efficient family home.

0131–555 4678;

Stanhope Gate Architecture

Established in 2002, the firm’s work encompasses new-builds, master planning and refurbishment of listed and historic buildings, as well as collegiate, hotel and resort projects in the UK and overseas. Led by principal Alireza Sagharchi, the practice’s private residential work extends from the reimagining of a country house on the Isle of Jura (COUNTRY LIFE, August 31, 2022) to a new-build home in Holland Park, a Caribbean retreat in Nassau with its own lighthouse and a new 27,000sq ft house in Berkshire.

020–7451 0955;

Stuart Martin Architects

Based in Dorset, this practice specialises in one-off houses and sympathetic conservation work across southern England. Recent projects include the design of a house to Passivhaus standards in Berkshire, a timber-frame cottage in Somerset entirely clad in oak and cedar and restoration works on a Grade I-listed house in Devon. On the drawing board is a design for a Victorian house on the coast of Exmoor and a tiny wooden cottage in Somerset.

01935 83543;

Thomas Croft Architects

This esteemed practice, with headquarters in London, is particularly strong on new buildings in traditional settings, such as the Cromwell Place Arts Hub in London SW7. Several ongoing residential projects include work at the Albany in Piccadilly, London W1, and a new retirement home in north Oxford. The company’s reimagining of a Grade I-listed Robert Adam house in Fitzroy Square, London W1, was shortlisted for the Georgian Group Architectural Awards 2023.

020–8962 0066;


This Cotswold-based practice works almost exclusively on private residential projects, particularly new-build country houses, as well as on pool houses and leisure buildings. Projects in recent years have included a contemporary complex, complete with pool, gym, hammam, yoga studio and home cinema, for a house in Berkshire.

01285 888150;

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