Country houses for sale

An extraordinary opportunity to create one of the finest houses in Somerset on a 355-acre estate, complete with towers built to impress the former king who was a regular visitor

The house that stands at present is beautifully finished, but permission is in place for something even grander at The Aviaries, a Somerset estate with an intriguing tale to tell.

In the beautiful county of Somerset lies The Aviaries at Shepton Montague — for sale at £8m — which sits two miles from Bruton and four miles from Castle Cary, and is fresh to the property market.

The sale represents a remarkable opportunity to complete the restoration of an historic, 355-acre, totally private country estate with the addition of ‘an imaginative and innovative modern house with a pavilion and swimming pool positioned to maximise the exceptional views’, for which planning consent is already in place.

The Salisbury office of Savills quotes a guide price of £8m for the estate, previously part of a 1,500-acre farming enterprise that had constructed a complex of large, unsightly storage buildings in a prime position on the land, the reduction and reconfiguration of which is enshrined in the planning agreement.

This was to be the final stage in the restoration of The Aviaries by its current owner, who bought the estate in 2007, before an unexpected family bereavement intervened to halt the project. This means that the construction of the new main house must now proceed under a new owner.

Set in an area of unspoilt rolling countryside farmed organically since 1989, The Aviaries was once part of an 18th-century estate owned by the 1st Earl of Ilchester, a Member of Parliament.

That estate, known as Redlynch Park (not to be confused with Redlynch, Wiltshire), included the present main house, a picturesque, Grade II-listed Georgian lodge and The Towers, an imposing, Grade II*-listed, Gothic-style entrance archway built by Lord Ilchester, reputedly to impress George III, who was a frequent visitor.

Both buildings were in serious need of restoration, as was the remarkable 18th-century landscaping of the parkland, which was inspired by the grounds of nearby Stourhead and designed for Lord Ilchester by the same architect, Henry Flitcroft.

The 3rd Earl chose to return large swathes of the parkland to agricultural use and the lodge and its walled enclosures, which once housed exotic birds, now survive as the last remnants of the original ambitious and imaginative design.

In 2009, a thorough restoration of the lodge resulted in the present charming house, centred on a large main reception room, four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Other buildings still in need of renovation include a stone pavilion, a pair of staff cottages, as well as some modern agricultural buildings.

The product of a 10-year program of design and consultancy, the 8,500sq ft new house designed by London-based architect Mary Duggan will be positioned to the south-east of the present agricultural buildings, with the new pavilion and swimming pool located some distance from the house.

Landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith has developed a comprehensive design to remodel the entire site, as well as reinstating elements of the original historic parkland design.

The Aviaries are for sale at £8m via Savills – see more details.