An 'impeccably restored' and exquisitely-presented Georgian property has come up for sale on the edge of the Cotswolds AONB. Penny Churchill takes a look.
For all its negative connotations, 2021 has been a very good year for grand English country houses, the latest being classic, Grade II-listed Georgian The Hewletts, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which has come to the market through Savills with a guide price of £7.5 million.
Impeccably restored by its current owners, who bought the house in a run-down state in 2006, the gracious 9,000sq ft Palladian-style house stands in 45 acres of gardens, parkland, woodland and pasture, 700ft above sea level on Aggs Hill, close to the top of the Cotswold escarpment.
The house boasts spectacular views towards Prestbury Park racecourse and over Cheltenham to the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains of Wales.
Once part of the Southam estate owned by the De La Bere family of Herefordshire, The Hewletts was probably built around an earlier 17th-century farmhouse by William Baghot, who inherited the estate from his uncle, Kynard de la Bere, in 1734.
Baghot left the house to his nephew, Thomas, who sold it in 1797 to Maj James Agg of the Bengal Army, one of many former Indian Army officers and administrators who settled in and around the spa town of Cheltenham in the 1800s.
Agg’s eldest son, William, was educated as a gentleman at Pembroke College, Oxford, and inherited The Hewletts in 1827. His only son, also William, was a career soldier who retired with the rank of colonel in 1869. Soon afterwards, he took over the management of The Hewletts estate and was much involved in public and business affairs in the Cheltenham area.
He died suddenly at home, in April 1901, after which The Hewletts and its 892 acres were sold to provide for the colonel’s seven surviving children. The estate was later subdivided and sold a number of times; in the mid 20th century, The Hewletts was run as a country-house hotel.
The present owners have painstakingly restored and renovated the building, retaining much of its essential Georgian features and character; constructed of Cotswold stone, it has an impressive ashlar entrance front arranged as a five-bay, three-storey central section with two-storey wings to either side.
Stone steps lead up to the front door and the reception hall with its fine 18th-century staircase, to either side of which are the drawing room and dining room, both elegant, light-filled rooms with good ceiling heights, sash windows, hardwood floors and imposing fireplaces. The study/library and family room are smaller and more intimate.
The kitchen/breakfast/garden room is a splendid new addition, with steps opening onto the lawns on the south side of the house. The rear hall leads to the north wing and a vast games room and bar where family and friends can be entertained in style.
Upstairs are seven spacious bedrooms, four bath/shower rooms and a self-contained, two-bedroom staff/guest flat. The sale includes a charming, Cotswold-stone coach house with a first-floor flat, various outbuildings and a modern agricultural barn with potential for a number of alternative uses.
Cheltenham: What you need to know
Location: In Gloucestershire, bordering the Cotswolds AONB. Oxford is 41 miles to the East and Bristol is approximately 42 miles to the south west. There is a train station within the town — Cheltenham Spa, offering Great Western rail services.
Atmosphere: Known as the most complete Regency town in the UK, Cheltenham is known for its history and architecture. The bustling town attracts visitors throughout the year thanks to its horse racing events and rich heritage.
Things to do: Visit Pittville Park — the largest ornamental park in Cheltenham, home to a boating lake and the Pittville Pump Room. No trip would be complete without a visit to the Cheltenham Racecourse. There is also the Cheltenham Festival — a four day racing event which takes place every year and draws in visitors from all over. The town is home to many cafes, restaurants and independent shops which split into various shopping districts. It also has a vibrant nightlife.
Schools: St Mary’s Church of England Infant School is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, whilst Prestbury St Mary’s Church of England Junior School and The Ridge Academy both received ‘good’ ratings. For secondary, Pate’s Grammar School, Balcarras School and Cheltenham Ladies College are all well-regarded.
Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.