Country houses for sale

A spectacular South Coast estate for sale, nestled in between the South Downs and a secluded spot on Chichester Harbour

Privacy, seclusion and spectacular views are on offer at this breathtaking estate just outside Chichester. Penny Churchill reports.

Privacy, seclusion and spectacular views are among the attributes most prized by buyers of landmark country properties in sought-after areas of southern England, as the prices quoted for two notable recent entrants clearly demonstrate.

Mark Astley of Jackson-Stops in Chichester and James Crawford of Knight Frank’s Country Department are handling the sale of the gloriously unspoilt Hook Farm and its ancient Old Park Wood at Bosham, near Chichester, West Sussex, described by the agents as ‘one of the most private and unspoilt locations on Chichester Harbour, with breathtaking views over the main channel to the upper reaches of the harbour and the South Downs’.

The property is being offered with a guide price of £10 million for the whole or in two lots. Lot 1, the impeccably restored and extended main farmhouse, plus 1,100sq ft of outbuildings, six acres of gardens and grounds and direct harbour frontage of some 650ft, with a private slipway, a private jetty and two moorings, is for sale at a guide price of £7.75m.

Lot 2, Old Park Wood, comprising some 85 acres of spectacular ancient woodland and saltmarsh, plus 2,650ft of private harbour frontage with no public footpaths, bridleways or other public rights of access, is on offer at a guide of £2.25m.

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The current vendor, who bought both properties off market in 2016, has significantly improved the 5,200sq ft main farmhouse, the oldest part of which dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. Originally a cottage on the Old Park estate, the house was restored by the previous owners in the 1990s and has since been refurbished and upgraded by the present incumbent, who has added new bathrooms, utilities and state-of-the-art technology and security systems, yet has retained the character and charm of an old Sussex farmhouse. Neither Hook Farm nor its outbuildings are listed, which offers flexibility for further development, subject to planning.

The entrance hall, part of the original cottage, has massive ceiling beams, an open fireplace and a carved-stone fire surround. The downstairs comprises a large kitchen/family area, drawing room and separate dining room with a circular bay window overlooking the harbour; a modern, oak-framed conservatory also has harbour views. There are five first-floor bedrooms, two with en-suite bathrooms and air-conditioning. Two others share a family bathroom and the fifth bedroom is currently used as a study.

A traditional cottage garden comprises a mix of herbaceous and shrub borders, together with informal wildflower and soft-fruit areas, with a restored water well providing a natural source of pumped water. The six acres of grounds include woodland copses, open grassland and a spring-flower meadow, with new plantings of specimen beech, oak and acers complementing the mature woodland areas and veteran oak trees along the waterfront.

The foreshore is part of the property, together with the adjoining section of the Fishbourne Channel. Hook Farm also boasts a historic oyster pond, created in the late 1800s to hold native oysters before shipping from Dell Quay. It fills naturally with the tide twice a day, and provides a precious habitat for numerous species of rare birds and insects.

Old Park Wood is the largest remaining part of the hunting forest of Bosham medieval deer park, the history of which can be traced back 1,000 years to Earl Godwin, the father of King Harald. Old maps reveal how little the woodland has changed over the centuries. Heavily protected as a designated SSSI, Old Park Wood has seen considerable investment by the current owner under a Woodland Management Programme that was approved by Natural England in 2018.

The woodland now attracts and supports a diverse range of wildlife, including deer, badger, fox, hare, small mammals and an abundance of butterflies, dragonflies and invertebrates. The bird population is of particular note and includes a long-established heronry and a growing population of egrets. The woodland also hosts owls, buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawk and many small bird species, whereas the foreshore is home to oystercatchers, curlew, whimbrel and shelduck. The conservation programme has been a passion of the current owner, but could be scaled back if a new owner so wished.

Meanwhile, investors with an eye to the future may wish to avail themselves of the tax advantages granted to owners of woodland, notably capital-gains-tax benefits, including the use of rollover relief, exemption from inheritance tax for woodland within an SSSI and the possibility of exemption from income and corporation tax for any commercial activities. It is also understood that the purchase of Hook Farm and Old Park Wood together as a mixed-use enterprise may lead to a substantial reduction in the stamp duty land tax payable.

Hook Farm and Old Park Wood are for sale together at £10m, or at £7.5m and £2.5m respectively — see more pictures and details.

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