Holmer Ridings was born from an estate formed when William the Conquerer laid siege to England. Penny Churchill takes a closer look.
After years of false dawns, country-house agents around the Home Counties not only have a spring in their step this January, they’re positively bouncing, as buyers and vendors who have been waiting in the wings enter the arena.
Across the Chilterns, Savills report a good start to 2020 in all their offices, with Beaconsfield recording a 66% increase in viewings compared with January 2019 and Oxford agreeing some early sales at asking prices. At the top end of the country-house market, the firm’s farms, estates and equestrian department have set the pace with the launch of the immaculate, Grade II-listed Holmer Ridings at Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, less than five miles from both Amersham and High Wycombe, at a guide price of £4.65 million.
Set high in the Chiltern Hills, in an ever-changing landscape of ancient woodlands, traditional farms and brick-and-flint cottages in hidden valleys, the village of Holmer Green was once part of a wilderness of forest and scrub where inhabitants of the fertile Misbourne Valley came to hunt deer and wild boar.
According to local historian Stuart King, Holmer Green was still an isolated place when William the Conqueror invaded England, subdued the Saxons and ushered in the medieval period that saw the establishment of large monastic and country estates, including the Manor of Holmer, first recorded in 1208, from which Holmer Green takes its name.
According to its listing, Holmer Ridings was probably built as a hunting lodge in about 1728. Approached down a long, tree-lined driveway, the pristine brick-and-flint main house stands in 18 acres of gardens, paddocks and equestrian facilities on the edge of the village, yet is largely unseen from the outside world.
For the past 23 years, Holmer Ridings has been the much-loved family home of sport-horse breeder Simon Davies and his wife, Jane, who have transformed and extended the main house and adapted the former dressage establishment into a successful breeding and training operation that produces top-class showjumpers to Grand Prix level – the Holy Grail of international showjumping. Their Dutch-bred Egalini is currently a star on the world stage.
‘We travel a lot and Holmer Ridings is ideally located within easy reach of London, Heathrow and the national motorway network, but now that our daughters have left home, the house is too big for my wife and me, so we are looking to downsize,’ Mr Davies explains.
Holmer Ridings is a classic Chilterns country house, beautifully renovated to provide five bedrooms and four bathrooms, including a large, lower-ground-floor master-bedroom suite. Elegant reception rooms are made up of an impressive drawing room with tall arched windows, and the distinctive orangery has a rounded bay linked to a fitted kitchen/breakfast room designed by Mark Wilkinson.
A separate spur leads from the drive to the stable courtyard with its charming stableyard adjoining discreetly laid-out training facilities that include a horse-walker, a manège and a lunging arena. In addition, the property offers two further detached buildings: a one-bedroom guest lodge and a cottage currently split into two staff flats with adjoining garages.
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