It is not just the residents of Kent and Sussex who have a thirst for water as they face the threat of drought orders, says buying agent Colin Mackenzie, who is based in Heathfield, East Sussex (01435 866988). He finds that incoming country-house buyers increasingly emphasise water as part of the setting of their dream home. As he points out: ‘A trickling stream can camouflage the sound of traffic or aircraft, and even the sales details of landlocked properties in the Ashdown Forest or North Kent Downs stress “distant views of the English Channel”.’
Mr Mackenzie adds: ‘Even on properties where no natural source of water is evident, the Wealden clay and ironstone of Kent and Sussex maximise the chance of finding it below the surface. When the High Weald was the centre of the iron industry, rivers with ponds helped create the necessary power for smelting, and it is not uncommon to find ancient carp or duck-ponds, created by larger houses to supplement their larders.’
Shortage of water is not an issue at The Moat, near Benenden, Kent, for sale at a guide price of £3 million through Knight Frank (01892 515035) and Charles Clark & Co (01435 864455). Once part of the manor of Benenden given to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, by his half-brother, William the Conqueror, in 1067, the Moat was part of Lord Cranbrook’s Hempsted estate from 1858 until 1912, when the property was split up and sold off in bits by the then Lord Rothermere.
The oldest part of The Moat is the original 15th-century timber-framed Wealden Hall House; the most recent, the substantial 20th-century additions built in the Georgian style of brick under a tiled roof. The owners have reinstated the spectacular moat, and bought in land to the north and east to create the present 110-acre estate.
The delightfully rambling main house has five reception rooms, nine bedrooms and four bathrooms, as well as a coach house and extensive outbuildings, including a car museum and workshop.
This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on July 6, 2006