Country houses for sale

An idyllic chocolate box cottage with easy access to London and an idyllic English country garden feel

This 16th century thatched cottage in Bedfordshire is bursting with character

When looking for a picture-perfect cottage worthy of a chocolate box, there is a clear, if informal, checklist. A thatched roof is invariably a must; beamed ceilings, of course, and ideally beamed walls as well; leaded windows; inglenook fireplace; a stable door-style back door, if possible; a country garden setting; and those absurdly low doorways to ensure visitors over 5’6″ brain themselves when moving between rooms.

There may be a few other things on your list, but that covers most of it — and all these elements are present and correct in The Thatched Cottage, on the prettily-named Butterfield Green Lane. It’s on the market with Haart via OnTheMarket at £700,000.

At that price, is there a catch? Well, yes, but only a little one. This lovely house — Grade II-listed — was built four centuries ago, when (no doubt) all around was rolling fields and endless Bedfordshire skies. Today, it’s a couple of hundred yards up a country lane, that comes straight off the main A505 heading from Hitchin to Luton, with a large cemetery just along the road. So not quite a countryside idyll, then, but at least you know the neighbours will be dead quiet.

Balancing the house and the location is always part of the fun with any property, of course. And if you’re after a place truly in the country, then a thatched cottage such as this one at the other end of the county — a delightful two-bedroom beauty at £435,000 — is really in the middle of nowhere.

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Yet that example is far smaller, and doesn’t have three big benefits. First, The Thatched Cottage’s easy access to Luton also brings easy access to (and through) London via the Thameslink railway line, and easy access on four wheels via the M1.

Second, there is still beautiful outdoor space in walking distance: there are plentiful woods and the Barton Hills National Nature nearby. And finally, there are the schools, shops and even a doctor’s surgery on the doorstep in Stopsley village, plus a huge leisure centre described by the agents as having ‘Olympic standard facilities’. It’s some mix.

Inside, the heart of the cottage is the sitting/dining room which opens into a lounge — the huge fireplace is in the wall which adjoins both rooms.

Also downstairs is a kitchen/breakfast room, downstairs bathroom, and one of the bedrooms — the latter with en-suite and study.

The remaining three bedrooms are upstairs, two of which adjoin — though they can also be accessed via separate staircases, and therefore can be kept separate if you prefer.

Outside, the pictures of the wonderfully pretty gardens speak for themselves — exactly the sort of English country garden you’d hope to see.

The Thatched Cottage is on the market with Haart via OnTheMarket at £700,000 — see more details and pictures.

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