West Country sage Robin Thomas of Strutt & Parker is proud to remind me that Devon is the only county in England that can boast not only two coastlines, but also two national parks, with Dartmoor’s 365 square miles of wild and windswept beauty representing the largest tract of open country left in southern England.
Mr Thomas is also proud to be selling one of Dartmoor’s finest manor farm-houses, Grade II-listed Blackslade Manor at picturesque Widecombe-in-the-Moor, which comes with 37 acres of paddocks and woodland, 333 acres of moorland, and the lordships of the manor of Blackslade and Dunstone-at a guide price of £2.5 million through his Exeter office (01392 215631).
Blackslade has always run in tandem with Dunstone, one of many Devonshire manors bestowed by William the Conqueror on Ralph de Pomeraie of Berry Pomeroy Castle, near Totnes, whose family owned it for 200 years.
The manor was sold several times before being bought at auction in September 1869 by antiquarian and local historian Robert Dymond, who enlarged the 17th-century manor house with additions to the front and rear. Interesting architectural features include a rounded stair turret with a stone newel staircase, a mid-19th-century stone entrance porch and a magnificent granite fireplace in the dining hall.
Blackslade Manor has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, eight bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms, but plans have been agreed with the Dartmoor authorities to enlarge and improve the house by creating fewer, larger rooms and opening up the spectacular views over the Widecombe valley.
The manor has an extensive range of traditional stone and slate farm buildings, including a splendid late-18th-/early-19th-century barn, listed Grade II, plus stabling and looseboxes. The house itself is protected by well-fenced paddocks, woodland and fields leading directly onto the moor.
Also on Strutt & Parker’s books is eco-friendly Southway Farm, listed Grade II, which stands in 8½ acres of gardens, paddocks, ponds and woodland overlooking Wide-combe village, and was owned in 1371 by the Norman Richard de Aysshe. Originally built on the site of a 14th-century farm-worker’s cottage, by the 17th century, the dwelling had become a Devon longhouse, which was extended shortly afterwards, and further altered and modernised in recent years.
For sale at a guide price of £1.5m, Southway Farm has two main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a self-contained one-bedroom cottage, and extensive stabling and outbuildings. It also has breathtaking views over Dart-moor and Widecombe’s famous 14th-century church with its tall granite tower, known locally as the ‘cathedral of the moor’.
Over in east Devon, Knight Frank (01392 423111) have raised the bar a few notches with the launch onto the market, in today’s Country Life, of palatial, Grade II*-listed Greenway Manor at Luppitt, near Honiton, at a guide price of £5m-£6m for the whole. Historically, Green-way was one of the manors of Luppitt (the name means ‘lovely valley’ in Old English), and 12th-century documents show a Philippe de Greenway living there at that time.
The family remained there until 1366 or later, when the manor was given to Newenham Abbey, Axminster, by Sir William de Mohun, but by 1528, it was no longer in abbey hands. The central portion of the manor is an open hall house built in the early 15th century; the stone mullioned windows upstairs date from about 1520. The dining room was added in about 1600, and the other wings and the linhay in about 1650.
The present owners-who bought Greenway Manor with some 70 acres of land in early 2003 and have since added a four-bedroom farmhouse and 50-plus acres of land on the other side of the lane-have meticulously renovated the historic manor and its buildings over a period of four to five years. Set against the backdrop of the Blackdown Hills, Green-way Manor has glorious views across landscaped gardens, woods and grassland to the Luppitt valley beyond.
The 10,244sq ft main house has five reception rooms, a kitchen, a breakfast room, a cider room, a music room, master and guest suites, three further bedrooms, a family bathroom, a housekeeper’s wing, a gate house cottage and a leisure wing linked to the house by a cloister. The secondary four-bedroom farmhouse on the opposite side of the lane could be sold separately with up to 40 acres of land for around £1 million.
A few miles further east, Chesterton Humberts (01404 42456) are offering classic late-Georgian Symondsdown House at Axminster, with two holiday cottages set in 7½ acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks, at a guide price of £1.45m. Spacious Symondsdown House, a former hotel, has typically Georgian well-proportioned rooms, including five reception rooms, a large kitchen, six first-floor bedrooms with six bathrooms, and two second-floor bedrooms with a further bathroom.
Up in north Devon, Jackson-Stops & Staff (01271 377677) are selling one of the area’s most important manor houses, Grade II-listed Westaway House at Pilton, near Barn-staple, at a guide price of £1.485m. Once part of the Westaway estate, the mainly Jacobean house was owned by the Basset and Lethbridge families during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Bassets, who owned it at the time of the Civil War, and again in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had a distant claim to the throne, of which they were very proud. Much good it did them, however, for one of the family was sent to the Tower in Tudor times for riding through London with 12 horses (a right reserved for royalty), and then, in the Civil War, they sided with the Royalists and lost out again.
The present owner, who bought Westaway House some eight years ago, has spent much time and money carefully restoring the historic, 7,300sq ft building’s ancient fabric; it has five reception rooms, six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a guest wing and a two-bedroom north annexe. Two acres of grounds include two walled gardens in need of restoration. But a business move to Spain means that internal decoration and renovation must now be left to a new owner.
Across the county border in Somerset, Savills (01392 455755) are selling elegant Rhyll Manor at Rhyll, on the edge of Exmoor, at a guide price of £3m for the immaculate, six-bedroom main house, lodge, coach house, outbuildings and 20 acres of delightful wooded gardens and grounds. A recently renovated four-bedroom cottage is being offered separately at £600,000.
For the past 10 years, Rhyll Manor, listed Grade II, has been the home of Conservative grandee Lord Hamilton, who was born at Beckington Castle, near Frome, Somerset. Built of local stone under a slate roof, the 7,296sq ft house is grand but inviting, with impressive stone fireplaces and gracious, light-filled reception rooms overlooking the lovely gardens to the rear, where a nice historic touch is a plaque commemorating the ‘opening’ by Lady Thatcher in 2003 of a row of stone steps built by Lord Hamilton himself.
Grade II*-listed Leigh House, near Winsham, Somer-set comprises the main part of another splendid Jacobean manor house, currently for sale through the Yeovil office of Chesterton Humberts (01935 477277) at a guide price of £1.65m. Once part of the Forde Abbey estates, it was owned by the Henley family from 1588 until Victorian times.
The exquisite stone manor, built in about 1617, was altered in the 18th and 19th centuries, and extended to the rear in the 1920s or 1930s. It was split into four separate units in 1954, two of which were bought by the current owners to create the present house. Leigh House has four wonderful reception rooms, a ground-floor apartment, a ballroom, a library, three bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor, and four more bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. It stands in 4½ acres of beautifully crafted formal gardens overlooking a paddock and a ha-ha.
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