Country houses for sale

A traditional country estate that straddles the River Stour

Baythorne Park Estate sits on the Essex-Suffolk border.

Strutt & Parker’s farms and estates supremo, Mark McAndrew, is full of the joys of spring as he oversees the launch, in today’s Country Life, of the late Julian Watson’s peerless Baythorne Park estate, which sits either side of the River Stour at Baythorne End, on the Essex-Suffolk border.

Not only is the prestigious 676-acre holding—for sale through Strutt & Parker (020–7629 7282) for the first time in 65 years at a guide price of £11 million—one of the best residential and sporting estates to come to the market this year, it’s also one of few historic country estates to be offered for sale in East Anglia since the start of the downturn in 2008.

The interiors are spacious and elegant.

Its focal point is Grade II-listed Baythorne Park, which, according to White’s Directory of Essex (1848), ‘has extensive grounds and stands on a bold acclivity above the river Stour… The present house was built in 1668 by George Pyke, whose father purchased the estate in 1640, and whose descendant, of the same name, took down the gate and court walls in 1801, and new-fronted, sashed and greatly improved the house’.

The estate remained in the family for more than 200 years, before being bought in the late 1800s by another local landowner, King Viall. In the 1930s, it was the home of Maj Bertrand and Mrs Rambaut, who was lady of the manor of Baythorne End. Baythorne Park was purchased by the late Mr Watson in 1952, when he moved from his own family estate in south Hertfordshire; he was to live there until his death in May last year.

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Described by those who knew him as ‘a sporting gentleman of the old school’, Watson immediately set about improving the estate, renovating the mansion and modernising the farm and its buildings. This part of Essex is famous for its trees and Watson’s Arcadia includes the wonderful tree-lined avenue that leads up to the house, with other woodland scattered around the estate—a landscape perfectly designed for Baythorne Park’s long-established shoot.

Immediately surrounding the mansion is the estate’s 48 acres of parkland, which boasts some magnificent specimen trees. Otherwise, most of its 60-odd acres of woodland comprises broadleaf and conifer trees, with some cricket-bat-willow plantations tucked away on the eastern edge. The remaining acreage includes 433 acres of easily worked arable land, 111 acres of grazing and eight acres of river and lakes.

The house built by George Pyke around its 17th-century heavy-timber frame was altered in the early 1800s with the addition of a two-storey service wing on the south-west corner. Little altered during Watson’s lifetime, the agents tactfully suggest that ‘although the mansion is ready for occupation, it would benefit from some sympathetic modernisation’. Its 8,075sq ft of accommodation includes three main reception rooms, a study, a kitchen, a breakfast room, domestic offices, a master suite, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The gardens surrounding the house include areas of lawn with some fine specimen trees and a secret wooded area that hides the tennis court. Behind the mansion, a sheltered area conceals the swimming pool and pool house. To the side of the mansion is Stable Court, a three-bedroom house converted from the original stables in 1969. Other residential buildings include a farmhouse and five estate cottages.

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