Country houses for sale

Orwell House: A ‘personal Eden’ for sale where ‘the sense of sanctuary begins as soon as the solid, rust-red steel gates swing open’

Jane Wheatley pays a visit to Orwell House, currently for sale via Savills, and tries to picture what life might be like under this roof.

Two years before a single foundation stone was laid at Orwell House, property developer Andrew Herring set about creating the green space that would become the heart of this sleek modern home.

Today, surrounded on three sides by the glass walls of the principal living rooms, it has matured into a miniature biosphere of moss covered rocks, slender birch trees and delicate woodland planting.

Coming home to this would feel every time like returning to your own personal Eden.

And the sense of sanctuary begins as soon as the solid, rust-red steel gates swing open into the property from the private lane outside. A sweep of pale gravel is surrounded by high stone walling and tall bamboo, softened at the edges with massed ground cover planting and a grouping of immaculate box balls.

The generous entrance hall is filled with natural light from a formal little garden to the side of the property before leading seamlessly through to the living area.

This initial welcome sets the tone for the whole house: a lavish realm of freely flowing spaces, uninterrupted by doorways yet so cleverly arranged that each room has its own integrity. The palette is principally white and grey with glass walls, polished concrete floors, floating oak stairs to the upper floor and, visible in every direction, the nourishing calm of living greenery.

It is, in a way, a blank canvas: you could keep to the muted, minimalist theme, as the current owner has, with sofas in grey and white linen, or splash out in vivid pinks and oranges with some rococo antiques thrown in.

I am already imagining how I would live here: waking to dawn light and taking my tea to the terrace outside the master bedroom, deciding whether to use my shower room or my bathroom – choices, choices. I’d be serene and self contained during weekdays, writing, reading, cooking, gardening. I’d work in my favourite room, looking onto greenery on both sides, lit from above by glass panels set into the steep apex roof, with a raised dais at one end furnished with desk and lined with bookshelves.

Back from a meeting in London (40 minutes by intercity rail), I’d take a glass of cold white burgundy out to the garden room and sit in peace among the ferns.

Then at weekends and holidays I’d fill the house with my grown up children, their friends and mine. After all there is plenty of room for a house party: six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a pool house with kitchenette and sleeping quarters above. There is a huge choice of communal spaces inside and out – for lounging by the pool or sitting round the firepit in the garden – as well as secluded niches to retreat to with a book and a cup of coffee.

And such a perfect place for a party: doors flung open to the night air, women in pretty dresses, champagne on the terrace in the violet evening light, secret trysts in the olive grove. Guests would wander the secluded gardens designed by Chelsea gold medal winner Sarah Eberle.

On hot summer days I’d serve lunch in the shade of the massive willow tree, fringed by white hellebores, the grass dotted with tiny jewels of blue speedwell.

Constructed in oak and stone, thatch and slate tile, the house is just 14 years old, yet settled into the landscape  as if it has always been there: not at all shouty and in harmony with the vernacular of village buildings. From the top floors at the front it overlooks the peaceful All Saints churchyard and the grave of author George Orwell, an avowed atheist but fond of church ritual.

A stroll along All Saints Lane and across the village green takes you round to The Fish pub where I could imagine popping in for a dish of moules frites on a summer evening.

Or I might walk or cycle down the high street, across the weir and onto the footpath that runs along the banks of Sutton Courtenay pools and onto the main course of the river. There are lots of walks from here to other villages in the Vale of the White Horse, and none of them strenuous.

It is an easy three mile drive to Didcot for the train or to Abingdon for its lovely river frontage and a very decent Waitrose.

All in all I could imagine living here very happily.

Orwell House is for sale via Savills at £4.5 million.