Country houses for sale

An £18 million Surrey mansion, with vaulted hall, turrets, and a kitchen-diner the size of a three-bedroom house

Penny Churchill takes a look at the breathtakingly impressive Combe Court, in one of the prettiest locations in the Surrey Hills.

It’s always a pleasure to come across a genuinely historic country estate, the sort of place which has survived the upheavals of the 20th century to emerge resplendent in the 21st, thanks to sound long-term investment and upgrading by current owners.

Combe Court, in Surrey, is a perfect example — albeit one which has been pulled back from the brink, having at one point been converted into luxury apartments. You’d never know it to look at it today, however, and Crispin Holborow of Savills quotes a guide price of £18 million for this Grade II-listed, classic Victorian country house.

The place is set in 94½ acres of formal gardens, lakes, parkland and woodland in the heart of the Surrey Hills, two miles from the quintessentially English village of Chiddingfold, not far from Haslemere and Godalming.

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The house stands on high ground overlooking its own grounds, with glorious southerly views over a wonderfully peaceful part of rural Surrey.

It’s a sprawling, beautiful building which offers more than 10,900sq ft of elegant, contemporary living space, including a grand vaulted reception hall.

The rest of the house takes in three main reception rooms, a study, a chapel (yes, really), utilities, cellars, and a kitchen/breakfast/family room which is vast. How cast? It’s over 850 sq ft, roughly the same the floorspace of a modest three-bed semi.

There are principal and guest suites, with four en-suite bedrooms in the main house; but if you need more space, further accommodation is available in the detached coach house and two staff cottages.

The imposing main house and its stable block were both listed Grade II in 1983, following a reconstruction aftera 1970s fire, which saw the addition of a turret in the same Tudor Gothic style. In the late 1900s, it was owned by the music and film producer Tony Smith, best known for his association with the bands Genesis and Pink Floyd, who sold the estate to its present owners in 2008.

Improvements carried out under the present ownership include the renovation of the stables, the re-siting of the drive and the construction of the luxurious swimming-pool complex. Also in the pipeline is an application for planning and listed-building consent fora substantial three-storey extension.

Combe Court, Chiddingfold.

Combe Court was built in 1850 by the Revd John Storer and acquired 10 years later by George Henry Pinckard, who ran the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Company, founded by his uncle, from 1839–58 and remained a director of the company until his death in 1892. He died without a male heir, leaving the Combe estate to his nephew, John Coles, who changed his name to George Henry Pinckard in order to inherit.

During the First World War, the estate was let to the government on a 20-year lease, during which time it became a remount depot for the training of war horses and carriage mules.

At the start of the war, Britain’s equine army numbered 25,000 horses. However, many more would be needed and, in the first year of war alone, more than 460,000 horses held in private hands were compulsorily purchased by the army; many thousands more were imported from overseas.

At Combe Court, several of the horses and mules were trained by the owner’s daughters, the Misses Coral and Cherry Pinckard, before being shipped to the front, where an estimated eight million horses, mules and donkeys (from all sides) are said to have died during the four years of conflict.

Combe Court is for sale through Savills at £18m — see more details and pictures.