Country houses for sale

Perfect country houses

When Patrick Bailey died in a tragic skiing accident in Switzerland in February this year, the normally sedate world of country estate agency lost one its most engaging and dynamic characters. As a partner in Strutt & Parker and head of the firm’s Newbury office, Mr Bailey master-minded the recent acquisition of Lane Fox, a move designed to strengthen Strutt & Parker’s profile not only at the lucrative top end of the London house market, but also in key areas of the South-East and the Cotswolds.

It is ironic then, or nice timing, that Patrick Bailey’s much-loved family home, Hoe Benham Farmhouse, near Newbury, Berkshire, should come on to the market in this week’s Country Life, sporting Strutt & Parker’s trendy new livery, which was also unveiled this week. The prosperous hamlet of Hoe Benham sits quietly in rolling countryside four miles west of Newbury, and Mr Bailey is reputed to have sold every good house there at one time or another. In 1990, he bought secluded 18th-century Hoe Benham Farmhouse with a cottage, outbuildings and seven acres of land, extending and transforming it over the years into the ideal country-gentleman’s retreat. Hoe Benham has three good reception rooms, five bedrooms and three bathrooms, plus a cottage, a swimming pool, a tennis court, outbuildings and stabling, surrounded by gardens and paddocks. It is for sale through Strutt & Parker (01635 521707) at a guide price of £2.25 million.

‘Hoe Benham is the perfect property for anyone who wants to enjoy life in the country, but Patrick’s legendary hospitality will be a hard act to follow,’ warns lifelong friend and fellow estate agent George Windsor Clive.It is hard to imagine any 1960s country house being dubbed a ‘house of a lifetime’, but there are exceptions to every rule, and Jordleys at Goring-on-Thames, south Oxfordshire is one of them. Built in the early 1960s by ground-breaking architects Bicknell & Hamilton, Jordleys’ iconic curved contours were designed to blend seamlessly with its beautifully landscaped Thames-side gardens. It is a measure of John Bicknell’s conviction that he and his wife bought Jordleys when the original owner died some years later. The house is now being sold by Mr Bicknell’s widow by Strutt & Parker in Pangbourne (0118?984 5757). Offers over £1m are wanted for this intriguing house, which has two reception rooms, three bedrooms, a family bathroom, a kitchen and a studio annexe.

The sale of idyllic Snapes Manor at Salcombe, south Devon, will solve the mystery of a lifetime for many locals, most of whom have never seen the inside of this landmark waterside house. ‘Not only is Snapes Manor listed Grade II* the most beautiful house on the Salcombe estuary, it sits at the end of a no-through road surrounded by National Trust land, and hasn’t been seen on the market for 40 years,’ enthuses Martin Lamb of Savills (01392 455755), who quotes a guide price of £7.5m for this ‘truly world-class marine jewel’. A knockout price which no doubt reflects not only the merits of the house itself, but its ‘jaw-dropping’ views of the estuary and its coveted private moorings and landing stage.

The original Snapes Manor dates from the 12th century, and the larger east wing is a Georgian addition from about 1784. Once the heart of a substantial estate, which was sold to the National Trust by its current owners some 15 years ago, the manor is still totally protected by its remaining 5.6 acres of exquisite grounds. With four grand reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, two splendid bedroom suites, five further bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms, the house adapts equally well to family living or lavish entertaining. A three-bedroom cottage provides further guest or staff accommodation, and, to the rear of the main house, a 3,500sq ft courtyard of magnificent stone buildings has potential for office or other uses, subject to the usual planning consents.