Country houses for sale

Property in Wales

Cross-border traffic between England and Wales has been a bonus i recent months for frontier estate agents with a foot in both camps. For Nick Within-Shaw of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chester, who recently completed the £2-million sale of the substantial Tros Yr Afon with six holiday cottages near Beaumaris, Anglesey, to buyers looking for a change of lifestyle, the market in North Wales has been a lot livelier of late than that of his home county, Cheshire.

But it’s no longer enough to find a willing buyer these days, Mr Within-Shaw adds the really clever bit is making the deal stick. Two fine, but quite different, country properties currently for sale through Jackson-Stops & Staff (01244 328361) were early victims of the credit crunch when sales agreed last year eventually fell through. The first is the exquisite, early Georgian Old Rectory at Llanbedr near Ruthin, in the Vale of Clwyd, which is now on the market at ‘excess £900,000’.

Built in about 1692 and listed Grade II*, the Old Rectory is the earliest brick-built building in the area, as at that time no bricks were made in North Wales. However, ships trading with Holland through the nearby port of Denbigh carried used bricks from Holland as ballast on their return journeys and these were used to build the rectory, which was sold off by the Church in 1970. Since then, successive private owners have carefully renovated the house, which has reception and staircase halls, three main reception rooms, six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dovecote, a coach house and outbuildings, set in three acres of wooded gardens and grounds.

In total contrast, state-of-the-art Glandon at scenic Church Bay, Anglesey for sale through Jackson-Stops at £795,000 dates from the early 1900s, when it was itself a brickworks for the area. It was later converted to a private house, and extended last year by the current owners to provide the ultimate seaside home, with a large sitting/dining room, five double bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms. North Wales offers unrivalled shooting and sporting possibilities, and Savills in Telford (01952 239500) recently scored a bullseye with the sale of the Gelli Gynan residential and sporting estate in Denbighshire, for more than the £2.25m guide price.

The firm is currently offering Grade II-listed Noyadd Trefawr at £1.25m with 11½ acres of wooded gardens and grounds, where sloping lawns lead down to a large lake, once part of extensive Victorian water gardens. The ancient property, which derives its name from the Welsh neuadd (hall) and trefawr (place of importance), was part of a famous hunting estate owned in the 1900s by the Pryse family of Gogger-dan, well-known masters of Welsh foxhounds, one of whom, Sir Edward Webley-Parry-Pryse, caused quite a scandal by hunting on the day of Queen Victoria’s funeral, claiming that ‘it was too good a scenting day to miss’.

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Noyadd Trefawr has three fine reception rooms, a large kitchen overlooking a rustic courtyard, eight bedrooms, four bathrooms and a heated outdoor pool. Down in South Wales, where Anthony Clay of Knight Frank in Hereford (01432 273087) reports the farms market as being ‘on fire’, with arable land making £7,000 an acre, and anything ‘prime’ in Monmouth-shire as selling ‘instantly’, the regular country-house market has been spasmodic, to say the least.

‘Everyone is looking over his shoulder to see what everyone else is doing, and nobody wants to be seen as a “mug” by offering too much for a house,’ Mr Clay comments. As a result, there are bargains to be had, such as the delightful Heddfan at Ffawyddog, near Crickhowell, eight miles from Abergavenny in the Brecon Beacons National Park, which is on the market at a guide price of £700,000–£750,000. Heddfan is an extended mid-Victorian villa with three reception rooms, a conservatory, five bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus 3½ acres of gardens, paddocks, outbuildings and a dovecote, and spectacular views to Llangattock Mountain and the Blorenge to the east.