Country houses for sale

A glorious Georgian country home where Jane Austen once stayed — but did she write Pride and Prejudice here?

This delightful villa apartment set in the historic village of Wrotham, near Sevenoaks, has links to Jane Austen at the peak of her powers. But just how strong are those links?

How much of a claim to fame must a house have in order to qualify for a blue plaque? It’s a tricky one. On a relatively recent visit to Grantham, for example, we were thrilled to see that the pizza restaurant where we had lunch had once been the boarding house that a young Isaac Newton stayed in.

Clearly, that branch of Pizza Express isn’t quite as well-qualified as the apple tree that the great man sat under while inventing gravity (n.b. yes, this is a joke), but it’s certainly notable. And that brings us to Court Lodge, a fine country house just outside Sevenoaks which is said to have played a part in the creation of one of the most famous novels in the English language: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Built in 1802, Court Lodge is now split into flats, one of which is currently for sale. It’s an immaculate two-bedroom apartment with a wealth of history, listed with Knight Frank with a guide price of £995,000.

Court Lodge. Credit: Knight Frank

The property was still a single residence — and less than a dozen years old — in 1813 when Austen came to stay, during which time, the agents note she was ‘writing Pride and Prejudice’. Unfortunately, that claim doesn’t quite hold up — yet the house is probably still blue plaque-worthy.

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Austen scholars will tell you that Pride and Prejudice was actually written long before, in 1796-97 — i.e. before Court Lodge was even built. While she did work on the manuscript before publication, that work was finished ahead of the book’s first publication in January 1813.  Austen visited Court Lodge in November of 1813: it was the home of her brother Edward’s sister-in-law, Harriot Moore, née Bridges, who lived here with her husband, George, the rector of St George’s church.

So while Pride and Prejudice definitely wasn’t written here, it might well have helped inspire Mansfield Park: George Moore is said to be the inspiration for Dr Grant in the book. As those who’ve read the book know, that’s not exactly a compliment: Grant is a self-indulgent clergyman more interested in the high life than tending to his pastoral duties.

All of this history adds extra intrigue to the apartment that’s for sale. It  occupies the entire top floor of this Georgian villa, which is set on the northern side of the village of Wrotham, a place noted in the Domesday Book but whose history goes back to the 8th century.

With its own entrance, a grand staircase leads to a formal hallway that links to all parts of the apartment.

Court Lodge. Credit: Knight Frank

A south-facing drawing room with bay windows sits at the centre of the property with views towards Wrotham and the surrounding countryside.

Double doors lead to the dining room on the south western corner which is open plan to a modern fully-fitted kitchen. A large roof terrace, ideal for entertaining and al fresco dining, runs off the kitchen.

Court Lodge. Credit: Knight Frank

The main bedroom suite sits at the other end of the apartment, as well as a second double bedroom and accompanying bathroom.

Stairs lead up to a reading room overlooking the entrance hallway, with outline consent to convert this area into an additional bedroom.

Court Lodge. Credit: Knight Frank

Outside are communal and private gardens with summer house complete with electricity, water and accompanying bathroom.

There are two allocated parking spaces, garage space and a wine cellar  or storage area in a separate part of the building.

Wrotham, Sevenoaks: What you need to know

  • Location: Nearby stations at Borough Green provide trains into London Victoria, and Sevenoaks offers fast trains to London Bridge, Charing Cross and Canon Street. The motorway provides access to the M25, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, and London.
  • Schools: There are excellent primary and secondary schools in the area, including Sevenoaks School, St Michael’s, The New Beacon, Sevenoaks Prep, The Granville and Walthamstow Hall, as well as Tonbridge and Caterham a little further away.
  • Things to do: Wrotham is on the Pilgrims’ Way at the foot of the North Downs, so walkers are well catered for. The village has a variety of small businesses sand a central concentration of pubs, three within a hundred yards of each other: the Rose and Crown, the George and Dragon and the Bull Hotel.

Court Lodge is listed with Knight Frank with a guide price of £995,000.

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