Country houses for sale

Braving the move

As property experts vie with each other to hammer the next nail in the coffin of the UK housing market, it’s refreshing to find busy country-house owners who have simply decided to get on with their lives. Having scaled the heights of their respective professions one in the law, the other in the City the owners of elegant, Grade II-listed Meadow Court at Tockenham, Wiltshire, are moving for logistical reasons, and this Queen Anne gem overlooking the Marlborough Downs is for sale through Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) at a guide price of £2.95 million.

Meadow Court started life in about 1630 as a Cotswold stone farmhouse. In 1730, the grand, red-brick, Queen Anne façade was added by master-builder Nathaniel Ireson, who had earlier built stately Stourhead House for banker Henry Hoare. Meadow Court’s handsome, 3,821sq ft coach house was built at the same time.

The manageable, 5,425sq ft main house was extensively remodelled in 2002, and has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room by Martin Moore, master and two guest suites, plus three further bedrooms and a family bathroom. Meadow Court stands in 11 acres of immaculate gardens and grounds, which include a lake, a tennis court, a swimming pool, stabling and paddocks. Having educated his daughter at nearby Bedales School, the switched-on owner of 13,490sq ft Pursers at Bramdean, six miles south-east of Alresford, Hampshire, is planning not only to move on, but to move out of Britain altogether.

So, for the second time in 15 years, Philip Blanchard of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Winchester (01962 844299) is seeking a buyer for the former Northbrook family home, set in 16.5 acres of formal gardens, orchards, lakes and paddocks in an idyllic secret valley, at a guide price of £5m. The grounds also include garages and stabling, a swimming pool, a tennis court and a walled garden. The oldest, central part of the house probably dates from the late 1600s, with the east and west wings added in late-Victorian and Edwardian times. Unusually for such a distinguished house, Pursers is unlisted, which made it easy for the previous owner to rearrange the wings into a self-contained three-bedroom dower house and a two-bedroom staff wing; there is also a separate two-bedroom groom’s cottage.

Renting out one of the wings enabled the present owner to reduce the running costs of the main house, which has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, nine bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a separate two-bedroom flat. It’s a measure of the underlying strength of the country-house market that the owner of picturesque Banks Farm at Barcombe, East Sussex, has chosen to launch the ‘perfect family estate’ on the market for the first time in 50 years. Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) and Sussex agent Nicholas Williams (01435 813693) quote a guide price of £5m for the dreamy, 320-acre, residential and farming estate, comprising a substantial 10-bedroom main farmhouse with a wonderful ‘entertaining barn’ (bought from a local farm and rebuilt on its present site in the 1970s), three cottages, a Grade II-listed oast house, and farm buildings with planning consent for residential development.

The gardens that surround the main house are a plantsman’s dream, with beautifully maintained lawns, borders, shrubberies and trees, and a hedged kitchen garden leading down to a boating lake complete with boathouse. Some houses move on, others prefer not to.

For sale for the first time in 30 years, timeless Dean Farm on the edge of the Quaker village of Jordans, three miles from Beaconsfield, is a historic Chiltern farmstead, listed Grade II, with an Elizabethan farmhouse, built in 1571, set beside a 16th-century tithe barn (claimed to be the longest in Buckinghamshire) and a 17th-century granary. In 1915–16, the Quakers of Jordans bought part of the 100-acre Dean Farm estate that surrounded the original Quaker meeting house. Neither Jordans nor Dean Farm have altered much since then. ‘Being at Dean Farm is like taking a step back in time,’ says selling agent Nick Warner of Savills (01494 731950), who quotes a guide price of £3.5m for the farmstead, including the four/five-bedroom main farmhouse with its two-bedroom annexe, the tythe barn and granary, two cottages and 6.4 acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks. A further 3.7 acres is held on a 66-year lease from the Religious Society of Friends.