Penny Churchill takes a look back over the major country house sales of the past 12 months.
January: Rhyll Manor, East Anstey, north Devon. Guide £4.25m. Savills
For Martin Lamb of Savills in Exeter, the year kicked off in style with the sale of rugged Rhyll Manor at East Anstey. The manor has long been at the heart of the Exmoor sporting scene, having been home to successive generations of the Hancock brewing family, many of whom were masters of the local Dulverton foxhounds. Unlike some West Country manors, Rhyll Manor’s recent owners have left it in a better state than when they found it, says Mr Lamb, who rates it the best house sold in the West this year.
February Remenham Place, Henley-on- Thames, Oxfordshire. Guide £8m. Savills
Signalling the resurgence of the Henley market, Remenham Place was the first of six houses sold by Savills for more than £5m there this year. Launched on the market in 2012, the classic Victorian house stands in 10 acres of grounds overlooking the Hambleden Valley. Its motto ‘Doe well and doubt not’ may be the ethos of the jetsetters who dominate this affluent corner, however, the time taken to secure a sale suggests that even the most aspirational of buyers are wary of the costs involved in maintaining a large country property.
March The Shakenhurst estate, Bayton, Worcestershire. Guide £16m. Knight Frank
In a year when land—and lots of it—was the key to success at the upper end of the market, Knight Frank found a seasoned farming buyer for this historic, 1,324-acre estate on the Worcestershire/Shropshire border, in the first major estate sale of 2014. This was only the second time that Shakenhurst, which boasts a Grade II*-listed, 12-bedroom, Georgian hall, 15 farm- houses and cottages, fishing on the River Rea and a renowned shoot, had been sold since 1349. The vendors, who had extensively renovated the property, bought it in 2010.
April Hamptworth Lodge, Landford, Salisbury, Wiltshire. Guide £4.85m. Humberts
For James Grillo of Humberts, the sale to an English buyer with New Forest connections of Grade II*-listed Hamptworth Lodge with 132 acres of gardens and parkland within a 1,157-acre, sporting and forestry estate, was one of the highlights of ‘a rollercoaster year’. Built as a hunting lodge in the early 1600s, Hamptworth Lodge was completely rebuilt for Harold Moffatt in 1910–13 by the distinguished architect Sir Guy Dawber. Its brickwork is a notable feature, as is the magnificent interior panelling.
May Charles Hill Court, Tilford, Surrey. Guide £6m. Knight Frank/Savills
In one of the slickest country-house sales of 2014, elegant Charles Hill Court at Tilford, near Farnham, launched in Country Life on April 23 and exchanged for more than the guide on May 29. Built in 1908 for Elizabeth (Lily) Antrobus of the Coutts banking family, the house is a triumph of Anglo-French collaboration between the Arts-and-Crafts architect Detmar Blow and his Paris-trained partner Fernand Billerey. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Surrey Hills, it stands in almost 18 acres of sumptuous gardens and grounds.
June Hawling Manor, Hawling, Gloucestershire. Guide £10m. Knight Frank
Grade II-listed Hawling Manor on the edge of pretty Hawling village, between Cheltenham and Stow-on-the-Wold, was one of the year’s few high-ticket country houses to nail down a buyer in advance of its official launch date, exchanging in May and completing in June. An interesting mix of architectural styles from the 16th to 20th centuries, the house and its seven acres of gardens and grounds were restored in the 1990s by the architect Peter Yiangou, interior designer Charles Hesp and gardening expert John Hill.
July Eastlands Park, Horsham, West Sussex. Offers over £11m. Knight Frank/ Strutt & Parker
The rapid sale of this 588-acre estate at Warninglid, near Horsham, West Sussex, which launched in May and exchanged in July, confirmed a robust demand in 2014 for ‘the right estate in the right place,’ says Mark McAndrew of Strutt & Parker. Eastlands ticked all the boxes, having an impressive main house, a com- mercial farming enterprise, woodland, shooting, equestrian facilities, a regular income from let houses and cottages and the benefit of ‘mixed-use’ Stamp Duty at 4%.
August Lasborough Park, Kingscote, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Guide £12m. Savills
Launched in Country Life on May 7, romantic, 15,000sq ft Lasborough Park made the most of its glorious position on the northern slope of a hidden south Cotswolds valley and moved swiftly to exchange of contracts in August. Built in 1794, Lasborough typifies the Tudor-Gothic style favoured by Wyatt in the latter part of his career. Despite its having only 55 acres, the privacy of Lasborough Park’s high-profile new owners is protected by the grand shooting estates that surround it.
September The Bantham estate, Kingsbridge, Devon. Offers over £11.5m. Strutt & Parker/Michelmore Hughes
Long-term residents of the idyllic Bantham estate in Devon’s popular South Hams heaved a massive sigh of relief when, after months of uncertainty, the sale of the scenic, 716- acre coastal estate—comprising 21 let properties, two boathouses, a harbour, an 18-hole golfcourse and a Duchy of Cornwall lease of the fundus and foreshore of much of the River Avon—to Nicholas Johnston of the model Great Tew estate in Oxfordshire, was announced in September.
October Gaston Grange, Bentworth, Hampshire. Guide £11m. Knight Frank/ Strutt & Parker
Launched in mid May, the irresistible combination of a beautifully modernised manor house and 198 acres of formal gardens, paddocks, woodland and farmland on the northern edge of the South Downs National Park ensured the rapid sale of elegant Gaston Grange, with contracts exchanged in September and completion a month later. It was built in 1890 by Col Gordon Gordon-Ives, who inherited the prestigious Bentworth Hall estate in 1897.
November The Cluny estate, Laggan, Inverness-shire. Offers over £7.5m. Smiths Gore/Savills
The sale of a Highland sporting estate tends to be a leisurely affair, even for one as spectacular as historic, 10,143-acre Cluny, with its splendid A-listed castle (built in 1805), a renowned deer forest and grouse moor, salmon fishing on the Spey and Calder, a substantial farming enterprise and a glorious setting. Given the current uneasy market, the 14-month timelag between its launch in August 2013 and last month’s completion seems reasonable enough.
December The Dundarave estate, Bushmills, Co Antrim. Guide £5m. Savills
The recent sale of the prestigious, 550-acre Dundarave estate, along with a further 675 acres on the neighbouring Port Moon estate, is ‘a transaction on a scale never before seen in Northern Ireland,’ says selling agent James Walker. Launched in Country Life in mid July, Dundarave was the Irish seat of Scotland’s Macnaghten family and at its heart stands Grade I-listed, Italianate Dundarave House, built in 1846, which was described by historian Sir Charles Brett as ‘by far the grandest 19th-century house in north Antrim’.