Country houses for sale

A fabulous Edwardian country house for sale that served as a top-secret Special Operations Executive base during the Second World War

This sprawling Queen Anne style property which has impressive formal gardens and an extensive list of tempting 'extras.'

In these uncertain times, it’s not been unusual for country houses — or houses of any type, for that matter — to appear, then relatively quickly disappear, from the market. And it’s usually only a matter of time before they re-emerge, as is the case with Poundon House in Oxfordshire, for sale at £6m via Knight Frank.

This charming Edwardian country house first came to the market for a while in the autumn of 2021 (at the same asking price) before going under the radar, only to receive a fresh push in the market in the last couple of weeks of 2022.

It’s just as beautiful today as ever, a fine house set in more than 10 acres of gardens and grounds in unspoilt open countryside, was built in 1908 by Eton-educated gentleman cricketer John Heywood-Lonsdale.

If this looks a rather grand house for a cricketer to have built, John had his father to thank. Arthur Heywood-Lonsdale inherited £1.25 million in 1877 upon the death of an uncle — a sum which he had to change his name to inherit. That amount of money equates to £144 million in 2023 terms.

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The large and impressive formal gardens, which include a lime-tree avenue, parterre, ornamental pond and walled garden, were designed by Thomas H. Mawson, widely regarded as the leading landscape architect of his day.

Poundon House remained the Heywood-Lonsdale family home until the outbreak of the Second World War, when it was requisitioned by the government to house evacuees from London and as a base for Sir Winston Churchill’s crack espionage unit, the Special Operations Executive.

Poundon House was Station 53b, used as a top-secret radio and training base when, in 1942, SOE’s radio communications were were moved away from nearby Bletchley Park.

It continued to be used by the intelligence services until the late 1970s. The property changed hands a couple of times before the Roscoe family acquired it a decade later and lovingly restored it to its original splendour.

Built by local firm Lewis Penn of golden Eydon stone in the Classical Queen Anne style, Poundon House offers 13,263sq ft of grand living space on three floors, including three fine reception rooms.

There is a library, study, family room and kitchen on the ground floor; a master-bedroom suite, seven further bedrooms and three bathrooms on the first floor; plus four more bedrooms, a family bathroom and kitchen on the second floor.

Further accommodation is available in the three-bedroom garden wing and the two-bedroom garden cottage; sporting amenities include a large, Roman-style swimming pool within a hedged garden, a hard tennis court, former croquet lawn, paddock, and traditional red-brick stable yard with 12 stables, four flats and extensive garages.

Poundon House is currently on the market via Knight Frank at a guide price of £6 million — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details. 

Bicester: What you need to know

Location: North East Oxfordshire, approximately 15 miles North of Oxford. Bicester Village and Bicester North are two local train stations which run on the Chiltern Main Line Services and link to London Marylebone and Birmingham. There is also easy access to the M40 which links London, Birmingham and Banbury.

Atmosphere: The town is most well known for Bicester Village — a large shopping district which is home to a huge number of outlet designer shops.

Things to do: There are over 160 boutique shops at Bicester Village which draw in crowds from all over the UK and are well worth a visit. There are also numerous cafes and restaurants within the shopping district. The surrounding countryside is the perfect playground for those who love to get outdoors, with numerous walking and bridle routes to explore.

Schools: Bardwell School (ages 2-19) and Brookside Primary School are both rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. Further schooling options can be found closer to Oxford with Headington School, Magdalen College School and The Cherwell School.

See more property for sale in the area.

Additional writing by Penny Churchill

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