Country houses for sale

A beguiling stone-built Gloucestershire house set in almost 150 acres of spectacular Cotswold countryside

Penny Churchill takes a look at North Rye House, which is searching for a new owner after being a blissfully happy family home for the past 34 years.

September is a magical month in the Cotswolds — and all the more so should you have the fortune to live in a home like North Rye House near Donnington, Gloucestershire.

This handsome Cotswold stone house is set in 148 acres of gardens, pasture, parkland and woodland, a mile from the pretty village of Broadwell, and 1½ miles north of Stow-on-the-Wold. It’s for sale through Knight Frank at a guide price of £7.5 million for the beautifully maintained house and farm.

North Rye House was the dream home of J. D. (David) Summers, who, in 1960, had his new house built in the style of a traditional Cotswold manor house in an idyllic setting on part of his Little Barrow estate.

The design, meticulously executed by a builder from Moreton-in-Marsh, was cutting-edge, with all manner of ‘mod-cons’, such as underfloor heating and a central vacuum system.

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High-quality woodwork was a feature throughout, with panelling in the drawing room and dining room creating an elegant backdrop for both formal and informal occasions — of which there would be many over the years.

In the early 1980s, North Rye House was owned by Rosie, Marchioness of Northampton, from whom the present owners, Peter and Joanna Stoddart, took over. Forced to leave their Buckinghamshire home when it was compulsorily purchased by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation, they managed to buy North Rye House privately from Lady Northampton and moved there in 1986.

North Rye House has remained very much as it was when first built, although land surrounding the house was exchanged to create what is today a protected oasis of almost 150 acres of pasture and one field of arable, currently farmed under a grazing agreement and farm business tenancy by local farmers.

Approached along a sweeping main drive lined with an oak avenue planted in 2012 to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, North Rye House offers 6,138sq ft of elegant accommodation, including an impressive reception hall, four fine reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, master- and guest-bedroom suites, five further bedrooms, two bathrooms and a separate two-bedroom flat.

Secondary buildings include a three-bedroom cottage, a gardener’s workshop and wood store and, to the left of the tennis court, the stable yard with nine stables, a tack room, a feed store and a former horsebox garage.

During the Stoddarts’ tenure, the immaculate gardens surrounding the house were created and maintained by a succession of talented gardeners, with guidance and direction from Mrs Stoddart.

Over the years, both house and garden have been the setting for celebrations large and small. As the Stoddarts’ son, Clive, observes: ‘My father would never have left North Rye under his own steam, but it’s now right, although sad, to pass on the mantle to another owner who, we hope, will enjoy and cherish what has been the happiest of homes for the past 34 years.’

North Rye House is for sale through Knight Frank at £7.5m.

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