Trading ups and Downs

Having lived all their lives in Kent and Sussex, Errol and Sandy Bishop had no intention of moving as far west as Somerset until six years ago, when they saw an advertisement in Country Life for Cutley House near Taunton, and immediately fell in love with it.

The house was more than ?a little tired?, but the infrastructure was sound and the setting an amphitheatre formed by the Quantocks, the Blackdowns and the Brendon Hills was perfect. Since then, Mrs Bishop?s design skills, honed during her career with Sotheby?s, have served her well, and Cutley House has been renovated throughout with a masterly lightness of touch. The gardens and grounds, including the splendid walled gardens, have been restored with similar expertise by the Bishops? son, Max, a talented landscape designer.

Cutley House was built in about 1780 for Thomas Cornish, rector of the local parish of Heathfield for 54 years, and a founder of the Taunton Cider Company at nearby Norton Fitzwarren. Built of local stone under a slate roof, the house, listed Grade II, stands in the middle of its 10 acres of grounds, and has four elegant reception rooms, a garden room, six bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms. It also has extensive outbuildings and barns, and a staff cottage and a studio flat.

During their time at Cutley, the Bishops have kept a pied-a-terre in London which is handy as their daughters, Charlotte and Kathy, now live in the capital. But the recent arrival of grandchildren Isabella and Oscar has prompted the decision to downsize in Somerset and upsize in London, and Cutley House is on the market through Knight Frank (01392 423111) at a guide price of £2 million.

Already, a steady stream of prospective purchasers suggests that their dream country home will not be on sale for long but long enough to host Oscar?s christening party in a few weeks? time.

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on March 16, 2006.