Country houses for sale

Luxury estates for sale

The market for landed estates in the south of England has always ridden on the back of the City of London, but one landmark sale that underlines the link more strongly than most is that of Earl Compton’s Tandridge and Chelsham estates in Surrey, due to be launched by Savills (020–7499 8644) in next week’s Country Life at a guide price of £25 million.

The thriving mixed dairy and farming estates, set either side of the M25 and totalling some 3,222 acres in all, were bought in the early 1940s as a strategic long-term investment by the owner’s family, whose wealth derives largely from historic estates at Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, and Compton Wynyates, Warwickshire.

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The Surrey estates, which together produce an income of some £850,000 a year, are being offered as a whole, or as 23 main farming and residential lots, and, given the dearth of country property within less than 20 miles of Threadneedle Street, market experts anticipate a battle royal between investors, farmers and residential buyers.

‘It’s very exciting to see such a large tract of land coming to the market in this part of the inner Home Counties,’ says Philip Harvey of buying agents Property Vision (01344 651700). He expects to see Savills ‘swamped’ with enquiries, whether from ‘single investors with substantial funds in their pockets, who understand the benefits of agricultural investment, working farmers who have been the main purchasers of farmland this year, or residential buyers looking to buy one of the nine picturesque farmhouses on offer’ most of which are available with as much or as little land as the average home buyer could possibly want. In addition, there are 25 cottages, all let on a variety of tenancies, with some for sale either as a portfolio or individually.

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The 1,062-acre Chelsham estate, to the north of the motorway, has 693 acres of in-hand land and 396 acres of let land, three farmhouses and two cottages, and derives a substantial annual income from radio masts and commercial leases. A scenic hidden valley runs through the land and produces challenging birds for the estate’s two let shoots. With 10 sets of farm buildings, modern and traditional, spread around both estates, in addition to the various farmhouses and cottages, there is potential here for an inspired investor to play his own private Monopoly game in years to come.

The course of true love rarely runs smooth, but after almost three years on the market, selling agents Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) and Bidwells Faulkner (01923 264264) must be hoping that a suitor can finally be found for ‘England’s most romantic estate’, Compton Castle at Compton Pauncefoot, on the Somerset/Dorset border. Having so far failed to find a buyer at £17m for the whole, divorce now seems preferable to marriage, and the spectacular 1,273-acre estate is being split into 13 lots.

The splendid, Grade II-listed, eight-bedroom castle, built for Mr Hussey-Hunt in about 1825, is being offered along with its impressive stone gate-lodges, outbuildings, famous teardrop lakes, and 195 acres of glorious gardens and grounds, at a guide price of £10m. But should an investor wish to take a long-term view, there is still the option to buy the castle with its surrounding farms and land, currently subject to an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy in favour of Compton Farms Ltd (no connection with the owner of the Tandridge and Chelsham estates), at the original £17m guide price.

It’s not easy to keep a large estate going without the backing of some kind of City income, and Strutt & Parker (020–7629 6272) expect wealth made in Manchester or Liverpool to fund the eventual purchase of the 1,658-acre Gwysaney estate, near Mold, Flintshire, at a guide price of £11.75m for the whole.

One of North Wales’s grandest sporting and agricultural estates, Gwysaney has been in the hands of the Davies-Cooke family since the mid 1500s, and the decision to sell has evidently been an agonising one for owner Richard Davies-Cooke, who inherited the estate on his father’s death four years ago. Gwysaney is for sale in six lots, with additional cottages and land available by separate negotiation. Lot 1, the heart of the estate which includes the rambling Jacobean Gwysaney Hall, listed Grade II*, with 856 acres of gardens, grounds, let farms and 241 acres of woodland, the basis of a famous shoot is on offer at £8.25m.

Gwysaney itself dates back to the 9th century, when it was linked to Rhodri Mawr, the King of all Wales. The original hall was built in a formal H-shape by Robert Davies in about 1603, but the east wing cracked in 1825, and was demolished, when the house was rebuilt and extended to the west by Philip Davies-Cooke, who inherited on his father’s death in 1820. He also developed the family’s industrial enterprises in Flintshire, which at the time included lead mines, coal mines, potteries and brickworks. Further additions were made to the hall in 1906.

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Gwysaney Hall stands on high ground at the end of a half-mile-long drive, surrounded by 40 acres of traditional gardens, formal lawns and a famous pine-tum, with far-reaching views of the Clwydian Hills to the south and the Cheshire countryside to the east.

The original studded front door, which still bears the scars of a cannon fusillade fired by Roundhead forces in 1645, leads to a fine panelled reception hall, through stained-glass windows to a central hall, and then to a series of reception rooms, including a magnificent drawing room overlooking the park, and several everyday reception rooms.

A staircase rises through a series of half-landings to the first floor, which houses the master suite, two further bedrooms and a bathroom; the remaining four main bedrooms are in the west wing. The second floor has ‘scope’ for five more bedrooms and two former staff bedrooms, with another former staff wing, linked directly to the kitchen, handily placed at the western end of the hall.

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