An idyllic West Country home has come to the market in a lovely village within the Quantock Hills.
In 1945, John Dower, civil servant, architect and intellectual, wrote a paper suggesting that there was a need for a sort of national park in miniature, to protect smaller, less wild areas that still had beauty deserving of preservation. This was the original germ of the idea that led to the creation of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or AONB. In England, the first such area came about in 1956 with the designation of west Somerset’s Quantock Hills.
Dower didn’t see his vision realised — he died of TB in 1947 — but he would surely have approved, and the Quantock Hills AONB has retained its beauty to this day.
From the heather-clad spine — some 14 miles long — it’s said that nine counties may be viewed, including those of south Wales. Steep, bracken-lined combes, grazed by cattle, sheep, red deer and wild ponies, run down to understatedly pretty villages with red-stone churches.
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Homes here are much sought after and one such example would be Wayvile House in the village of Bicknoller, a Grade II-listed property with walled gardens and a history that dates back to the 15th century.
There’s a wonderfully unspoilt charm to the inside of the house; you can almost imagine a young Laurie Lee scooting across the red tiles of the kitchen floor, or Thomas Hardy penning a few lines of poetry while sitting in a chair beside the inglenook fireplace.
The house is huge: eight bedrooms and 5,500sq ft of living space, and a suitably grand hallway with a sweeping staircase is at the heart — with, unusually, a traditional stove in place.
The property also boasts some nine acres of unspoilt West Country-side, which includes lawned areas, well-stocked borders, a vegetable garden, orchard and paddocks, to say nothing of the spectacular views that its hillside location offers.
Bicknoller itself has a reputation as one of the most charming and picturesque villages on the Quantock Hills — even the local pub is in a thatched building, while there is a community-run shop and a church, St George’s.
Taunton is the nearest town, while there is relatively easy access to the M5 to connect you to the rest of the country.