Country houses for sale

The best country house architects in Britain

Country Life has once again delved into its little black book and fully updated this list of the finest architects in Britain – an indispensable guide 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.

ADAM Architecture

Specialists in creating significant new country houses in the Classical tradition, the firm is working on Ravenswick Hall in North York-shire, as well as refurbishments and scholarly alterations to listed properties, such as the early-18th-century Chettle House in Dorset.

01962 843843;

Ben Pentreath

Architect, master planner, interior designer and author Ben Pentreath has an eye for Classical detail and a sensitivity to the timeless tradition of English country-house design. Also co-owner of interiors store Pentreath & Hall in Bloomsbury.

020–7430 2424;

Craig Hamilton Architects

Committed to the development of the Classical language of architecture, Radnorshire-based Craig Hamilton specialises in country houses, including a new home for The Prince of Wales in Carmarthenshire. The company is also known for chapels and monuments.

01982 553312;

Donald Insall Associates

Specialists in the care, repair and adaptation of historic buildings, as well as the design of new buildings, including private houses, for sensitive sites, the firm’s recent projects include conservation at the Palace of Westminster, the Temperate House at Kew and the Georgian lido, Cleveland Pools, in Bath.

020–7245 9888;

Francis Johnson and Partners

Established in 1937 by the late, great Francis Johnson, the East Yorkshire practice reflects his reputation for handsome country houses in the Classical tradition and the restoration of historic buildings. It is a regular winner

of Georgian Group Architectural Awards.

01262 674043;

Francis Terry and Associates

A leading light among the new generation of Classical architects, Francis Terry spent more than 20 years working for his eminent architect father, Quinlan Terry. He founded his own practice in 2016 and is the current chair of the Traditional Architecture Group, as well as an accomplished artist.

01206 580528;

Quinlan & Francis Terry Architects

A design by Quinlan & Francis Terry Architects

Gluckman Smith

Known for contemporary responses to historic settings, its projects include an imagin-

ative conversion of a Cotswold barn to the award-winning new Font House in the grounds of Nevill Holt, Leicestershire, and a new farm-

house in the Cornish tradition near Falmouth.

020–7998 1525;

Groves-Raines Architects

With a reputation for bringing new life to historic properties in Scotland and Ireland, this Edinburgh-based practice combines conservation expertise with a seamless integration of old and new. It was recently responsible for conservation at Hay’s Dock in Shetland, part of the new Shetland Museum & Archives.

0131–467 7777;

Giles Quarme & Associates

This London-based practice specialises in historic building work and new buildings within Conservation Areas. It consulted at Coal Drops Yard, the listed King’s Cross railway buildings transformed into a new retail development that opened in October 2018. Other recent projects include the award-winning restoration of Elizabethan country house Glynde Place, in East Sussex.

020–7582 0748;

Hoare, Ridge & Morris

Founders Mark Hoare, Ted Ridge and Charles Morris set up their practice in 2012, covering masterplanning to the design of furniture and interiors, as well as landscape and garden design. Projects include new-builds and repair of important listed buildings, such as, currently, Lyveden for the National Trust. It recently helped the owners rescue 13th-century Somerton Castle in Lincoln-shire from the Buildings at Risk Register.

01728 688747;

Ian Adam-Smith Architects

A deep understanding of classic English country-house architecture has earned Ian Adam-Smith an impressive reputation. His practice works almost exclusively on private residences – many with a modern twist – across West Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire and London.

01428 644644;

John Simpson Architects

An eminent architect, known for promoting the Classical language of architecture, his company’s recent projects include the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (complete with its charming Bat House) to work at Kensington Palace, Eton College and the Royal College of Music.

020–7405 1285;

John Stark & Crickmay Partnership

A well-established Dorchester-based practice that can trace its roots back to 1820 (Thomas Hardy spent six years with the firm), its team now offers multidisciplinary services across Dorset and beyond.

01305 262636;

Julian Bicknell & Associates

This respected architecture firm is known for grand country houses in the Classical style across the Home Counties and beyond. A fine example is the impressive Corwen Manor on the St George’s Hill Estate in Weybridge, Surrey, complete with a swimming pool that opens onto a sunken garden.

020–8891 1001;

Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects

A medium-sized practice founded by Kay Pilsbury and now headed by her daughter Sibyl Thomas, the company specialises in historic-building conservation and extensions designed to accommodate modern family living, plus new-builds in historic contexts. An interior-design service is also offered.

01799 599208;

Lindsay Buchan Architects

An Edinburgh architect with a fine reputation for the refurbishment, extension and construction of houses throughout Scotland, he is particularly well-known for his work on the buildings of country estates in the Highlands.

0131–554 9008;

Marc Deaves

Formerly an approved architect for London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor Estates, he now works as a country-house expert handling a small number of projects each year, work-ing closely with clients on all aspects of historic-building restoration and consents. He’s currently at work on the comprehensive restoration of a 17th-century manor house and walled garden in Wiltshire, complete with timber barn conversion.

07970 458025;

Nick Cox Architects

With projects including Woburn Abbey and the Grand Bridge at Blenheim Palace, this Oxfordshire-based practice specialises in the repair and conservation of historic buildings, such as Calke Abbey and Vyne House, as well as new buildings in historic contexts.

01869 238092;

Peregrine Bryant Architects

This conservation specialist is responsible for scholarly restorations at Crichel House in Dorset; a medieval timber-framed house in Herefordshire; Belmont, the Landmark Trust’s seaside villa in Lyme Regis; and the Royal Hospital Chelsea Stable Block scheme.

020–7384 2111;

Crichel, Dorset

Crichel, Dorset. ©Paul Highnam / Country Life

Ptolemy Dean Architects

Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey, Ptolemy Dean designed the new Weston Tower, which was described by The Guardian as ‘a gothic space rocket’ and was the first significant addition to the Abbey since 1745. He is currently overseeing the restoration and extension of Aldourie Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, and is also an author and television presenter.

020–7378 7714;


Founded by conservation expert Donovan Purcell in the 1940s, this firm has grown to become one of the world’s leading design practices with 11 studios across the UK, as well as in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. It boasts an impressive roll call of conservation projects, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the picturesque whaling station in Grytviken, South Georgia, dating from 1904, and, recently, the £3 million renovation of Bristol’s strikingly modern Clifton Cathedral.

020–7397 7171;  

Quinlan Terry Architects

The distinguished advocate of Classically inspired architecture is well known for high-profile projects, notably his work at the traditionalist village Poundbury in Dorset, as well as Ferne Park in Wiltshire, the New Infirm-ary at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London and the conversion of Tedworth House in Wiltshire.

01206 323186;

Russell Taylor Architects

This firm specialises in Classical architecture, including new-builds, extensions and alterations. Its recent projects include the Fitzroy Square headquarters for the Royal Society of Musicians, extensive renovations of private houses and selected new-builds in Cornwall and London.

020–7261 1984;

Simon Morray-Jones

Bath-based Simon Morray-Jones is an architect with almost 40 years’ experience of restoration, conservation and new-builds. He’s known for work refurbishing Babington House hotel in Frome and the Slaughters’ Manor House in the Cotswolds.

01225 787900;

Simpson & Brown Architects

This Edinburgh-based conservation practice also covers new-building architecture, heritage consultancy and archaeological work via its Addyman Archaeology arm. The company recently worked on the restoration of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, returning the famous institution to its former glory.

0131–555 4678;

Smallwood Architects

A specialist in the building of new homes and the remodelling and refurbishment of historic ones, this well-established practice is now run by its three directors: Jonathan Dinnewell, Julius Geeson and John Tehan. With an impressive portfolio of more than 900 projects, the practice covers both town and country, including Ireland.

020–7376 5744;

Smallwood Architects remodelled this Grade II*-listed house in Buckinghamshire

Thomas Croft Architects

Known for contemporary interventions in historic structures. as well as new buildings that relate imaginatively to historic settings, Tom Croft includes Paul McCartney and Richard Curtis among his residential clients. Now working on the major renovation of a Grade I-listed Robert Adam house in Fitzroy Square, London W1, and the Royal Yacht Squadron pavilion in Cowes, he’s also masterplanner for Sotheby’s.

020–8962 0066;

Stuart Martin Architects

This Dorset-based practice specialises in one-off houses and conservation work as required. It is currently working on the renovation of a moated Elizabethan manor house in Sussex, which was extended by Edwin Lutyens in the 1930s for Edward Hudson, the founder of Country Life.

01935 83543;

Watson, Bertram & Fell

Based in Bath and led by principal architect Mark Watson, this firm specialises in country houses, particularly work to listed buildings and properties in conservation areas. It is known for projects at country estates such as Ilchester and Ozleworth, hotels, including Cliveden and The Royal Crescent, and projects for the Crown Estate.

01225 337273;


This energetic Cotswolds-based practice has expertise in everything from contemporary structures to new country estates designed in the Classical tradition. It has undertaken projects for the National Trust, the Duchy of Cornwall and the University of Oxford, and is also particularly strong on swimming pools and leisure buildings.

01285 888150;

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