Country houses for sale

An irresistible ‘gardener’s paradise’ in Somerset that’s on the market for the first time in 52 years

Barr House at Bishop's Hull has been a much cherished home and is something of a gardener's paradise. Penny Churchill takes a look.

In Somerset, Florence Biss of Knight Frank in Exeter is handling the sale of charming, Grade II-listed Barr House in a hamlet at Bishop’s Hull, which sits in open countryside near the western edge of Taunton, three miles from the town centre and Taunton mainline station (London Paddington, one hour 40 minutes).

How about that for a dining room?

She quotes a guide price of £1.5m for the former 17th-century farmhouse, which, according to research compiled by Somerset county archivist Robin Bush, was ‘Georgianised’ in the mid 18th century by James Hine, whose family had owned the property for more than 100 years. He incorporated the original building into a much larger and grander, south-facing, U-plan house with rendered walls grooved to resemble cut stone, a Bath-stone colonnaded porch, tall sash windows and a Welsh-slate roof with deep eaves.

A most impressive library.

For the past 52 years, Barr House has been the cherished family home of Christine, Lady Skelmersdale and her late husband, Roger Bootle-Wilbraham, 7th Lord Skelmersdale, both enthusiastic gardeners, who, in 1972, bought the house in a state of semi-dereliction.

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A view of the two-acre gardens.

They also acquired Broadleigh Gardens, a specialist nursery founded in the 1940s by Alec Gray, who was famous for breeding miniature daffodils.

For the past 50-odd years, Lady Skelmersdale has overseen Broadleigh’s expansion into one of the country’s leading small-bulb specialists, supplying customers by mail order throughout the EU.

The sitting room — as cosy as they come.

At the same time, the couple undertook a full programme of restoration and improvement of Barr House, which sits in the north-west corner of its grounds overlooking some two acres of established formal gardens to the east and south; the remaining two-plus acres of grounds is currently occupied by Broadleigh Gardens, which will soon close its doors for good.

The kitchen. Could probably do with a little updating, but the Aga is wonderful.

For sale as a whole, Barr House and Broadleigh Gardens are approached off a little-used country lane close to the River Tone. In all, the property offers 6,123sq ft of well-proportioned living space on two floors, including a porch and entrance hall, three main reception rooms, an open-plan hall and sitting room, office, kitchen, various utilities, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms. It also takes in a two-bedroom cottage, while secondary buildings include a stable yard, stable block and a number of outbuildings.

Barr House is for sale with Knight Frank for £1.5 million. For more information and pictures, click here