Country houses for sale

A cottage in the South Downs which seems to tick every single box on the country home wishlist

It's not often that a place comes to the market which seems to fulfil every idle fantasy of owning an English country cottage — but in the case of The Old Thatch, it's hard to think of anything which has been missed off.

Those of us who dream of escaping to the country and living in a beautiful cottage tend to have an unofficial checklist. A thatched roof for starters; an inglenook fireplace; original beams retained as features in walls and ceilings; and pretty windows, of course, possibly leaded, and if so then done in a diamond pattern.

Kitchens are so important that they have their own little list, at the top of which is an Aga, naturally (other brands of kitchen stove are available, of course, but we’re talking wishlists here). A flagstone floor would be good. Stable door? Of course. And a kitchen which, while traditional, is actually fairly new, and therefore clean and pleasant to use.

As for the rest of the place? A bathroom with a free-standing tub, bedrooms with quirkily-angled ceilings, yet not so angled that they restrict headroom more than a tiny bit.

There should also be a garden that’s a slice of bucolic English country garden perfection — ideally with some sort of summer house plus workshop and/or stables.

Any place which ticks off half of these things would make it onto the shortlist of most buyers, but in the case of The Old Thatch — for sale at £1m with Henry Adams via OnTheMarket.com — there is pretty much a clean sweep.

Even the minor deviations add something extra: the workshop and stables are split in half, with the latter having been converted into a pub.

This 16th century cottage in West Sussex between Storrington and Thakeham really is a picture. It’s a Grade II-listed, five-bedroom family home that’s clearly been restored with huge enthusiasm, resulting in a delightful house that walks that trickiest of tightropes: balancing modern comfort with old world charm.

Is it perfect? Well, no. Nothing is. Some might wish for a walled kitchen garden, a paddock or perhaps a swimming pool. All three bring their own headaches for maintenance or gardening, though, so we’d imagine many buyers being very happy with The Old Thatch just as it is, thank you very much.

The house is set in a third of an acre of gardens that feature a mature willow, bee hives and a patio area, all accessible both from the back door and french windows set in the sitting room.

Even the location ticks the boxes. This prettily-secluded spot is just a mile or so from Storrington — with shops, cafés and a Waitrose — while Pulborough (a four-mile drive) has direct trains to London.

The Old Thatch is for sale at £1m with Henry Adams via OnTheMarket.com — see more details and pictures.