Special houses need special owners, which may be why some outstanding country houses, listed Grade I or Grade II*, take longer to sell than those of the less-demanding Grade II variety. Certainly, the various owners of Grade II*listed Inkpen House near Hungerford, Berkshire described in Country Life (February 19, 1943) as a ‘perfectly preserved miniature William-and-Mary country house’ set in 18 acres of historic gardens, grounds and woodland have not been lacking in character.
Inkpen House was built in about 1695, when Dr Colwell Brickenden, the rector of Inkpen, inherited the nearby Titcomb estate in Kintbury on the death of his elder brother, and straight away rebuilt the rectory to house himself and his seven children in a manner befitting their new situation.
According to Country Life, the new house, with its miniature Versailles gardens inspired by André Le Notre, was ‘an exact contemporary, and of similar size, to the exquisite Moot House at Downton, near Salisbury’. Later, following a disputed election, Dr Brickenden was appointed Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1710, but died of apoplexy four years later.
In 1933, the former rectory was sold by the Church Commissioners, and bought in 1938 by Lt-Col T. H. du Boulay and his wife, who, during the war years, singlehandedly restored much of the gardens while her husband was away on active service. More recently, Inkpen House was owned by the late Sir Fred Warner, the forthright former British ambassador to Japan, who sold it to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors past-president David Male some 12 years ago.
Now, Savills (020?7409 8823) have the job of finding the right buyer at £5.5 million for this classic country house, which has four fine reception rooms, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, and ‘wonderful vistas’ from every room.
This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on July 20, 2006.