Country houses for sale

Buyers ready to pounce in the Cotswolds

Thanks to the unseasonal weather, the traditional spring selling season has barely emerged in the Cotswolds, and there’s a real dearth of new property on the market, particularly in the ‘golden triangle’ between Oxford, Chipping Norton and Stow-on-the-Wold, says buying agent Jonathan Bramwell, head of The Buying Solution‘s Cotswold team. ‘Although there’s little coming to the market in the north Cotswolds, it’s a completely different picture in the south around Cirencester and Malmesbury, where agents will be bringing a significant number of houses to the market in the coming weeks. We estimate supply here to be 65% more than last year, whereas to the north of the A40, it’s probably down by 70%. However, there’s no shortage of buyers, and we certainly have clients ready to pounce on the right opportunity’, he adds.

A north Cotswold gem

Houghton House, Savills £3.3m

It all kicks off in this week’s Country Life, where the launch of handsome, late-Georgian Haughton House at Churchill, near Chipping Norton, through Savills (01865 269000) at a guide price of £3.3 million, highlights the appearance of one of the few new entrants to the north Cotswolds market.

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Once part of the prestigious Sarsden estate, the substantial former curate’s house was built in 1830 by James Haughton Langston, three times an MP and High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1820, who, in 1812, inherited the estate bought by his grandfather, a merchant banker, in 1792 Haughton House, listed Grade II, looks out across Sarsden from its lofty, south-facing site on the edge of historic Churchill village, which was rebuilt in local stone higher up Hastings Hill when, in 1684, a fire destroyed many of the original timber-framed and thatched cottages.

Little altered since it was first built apart from some essential modernisation 20 years or so ago, the imposing, 5,800 sq ft house, set in more than 11 acres of formal gardens, wild gardens and paddocks, has four main reception rooms, a study, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and four bath/ shower rooms. Secondary buildings include a coach house with a two bedroom flat, and a smart new Harlow stable barn with four loose boxes. For the past 20 years, Haughton House has been a much-loved and beautifully maintained family home, although a new owner will, no doubt, want to stamp their own identity on it. For selling agent Giles Lawton it is, quite simply, ‘the perfect Georgian rectory, within easy reach of the Oxford schools, two miles from Kemble station, and a mere five minutes’ drive from the Daylesford farm shop’.

A noble inheritance

Holcombe House, Strutt & Parker £2.25m

For the eminent Arts-and-Crafts architect Norman Jewson, traditional Cotswold architecture was ‘a noble inheritance’ which inspired him throughout his long career. A classic of the genre is Grade II*-listed Holcombe House at Painswick, five miles from Stroud-a quintessentially English village known as the Queen of the Cotswolds, and famous for its fine parish church and 99 clipped yew trees in the churchyard.

Currently for sale through Strutt & Parker (01285 653101) at a guide price of ‘excess £2.25m’, this timeless Cotswold clothier’s house, with its typical pointed gables, grey walls and mullioned windows, stands in a fold of the Cotswold Hills, about a mile from Painswick. Writing in Country Life (December 21, 1940), when Holcombe was owned by the Dowager Countess of Plymouth, Christopher Hussey describes the house as ‘one of these gems of masonry tucked away among the steep pastures that grew the wool which paid for the building of them all’. First built in about 1600, Holcombe was owned in the 19th century by the Loveday family, who were local mill owners; they sold it to the architect Detmar Blow, who lived at nearby Hilles House. In the early 1920s, Blow first rented, then sold the house to Lady Plymouth, later restoring and extending it for her in 1925, with the addition of a deep central rear wing and a gabled east wing. The present American owner bought Holcombe House in 1960, since when it has been carefully maintained but little changed, and now needs ‘a comprehensive makeover’, selling agent Sam Trounson advises.

Unlike most early-17th-century Cotswold country houses, which tend to have low ceilings and small windows, Holcombe’s excellent proportions and many windows make for rooms that are refreshingly light and bright. The main house has 6,824sq ft of living space that includes a panelled reception hall, four main reception rooms, a garden room and a kitchen, with eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms on the first and second floors. Other buildings include a listed, late- 17th-century thatched barn, a cottage and a studio flat. Holcombe’s 2 acres of mature gardens, mainly laid out by Lady Plymouth, include a walled garden and a 17th-century dovecote. They complement the wonderful panoramic views and provide a charming backdrop to this very special house.

A southern sleeping beauty

Brownshill Court, Strutt & Parker, £2m

The guide price of £2m quoted by Strutt & Parker for another Cotswold ‘sleeping beauty’, Grade II*-listed Brownshill Court at Wick Street, near Painswick, reflects the state of the 12,800sq ft house which, from the 1950s until recently, was rented out as flats. The present owners, Mr and Mrs Dangerfield, inherited the entire estate three years ago, and will continue to farm the surrounding land, bar the 18 acres that are being sold with Brownshill Court.

The house sits in classic Cotswold countryside on the west-facing side of the Painswick valley. Originally part of the Brownshill Estate established by the Palling family in the mid-17th century, the present house was built as a summer retreat by William Palling, and completed on April 5, 1760, at a cost of £860. William Carruthers inherited the estate in 1782, and is thought to have added the imposing Classical eastern façade, probably to the designs of Cotswold architect Anthony Keck, who is also thought to have worked at Highgrove (Country Life, October 27, 1988). Brownshill Court was sold to the Dickinson family of Painswick in 1853, and bought back by the Carruthers-Wathen family in about 1880. It has not been sold since. Although relatively unknown by the world at large, Brownshill has the potential to be one of the finest Georgian houses in the Cotswolds, despite being in need of ‘extensive restoration’ and on English Heritage’s ‘At Risk’ register.

During the past 60 years, care has been taken to preserve its architectural integrity, and many of the original fittings, such as panelled doors, window shutters and some fine 18th-century fireplaces, have remained in place. The cost of renovation is estimated at about £2 million. The main central block of the house is of manageable size, with a grand entrance hall and an elegant sweeping staircase, and scope to create four main bedrooms, with dressing and bathrooms, on the first floor, and a similar arrangement on the second floor. The north wing houses a large billiard room and the original ballroom, a wonderful room with tall sash windows.

The south wing is currently arranged as a self-contained flat, ideal for staff. Spectacular views Also launching this week is The Old Vicarage, listed Grade II, at nearby Oakridge Lynch, which stands in an acre of garden next to the parish church, with superb views over open countryside and the ancient woodland on the edge of the Chalford Valley. Knight Frank quote a guide price of £1.5m for the impressive former vicarage, built in 1838 and extended and altered in the late-Georgian and Victorian eras. The house has three main reception rooms, a garden room, a kitchen/ breakfast room, five/six bedrooms and three bathrooms, and is for sale due to owner Mrs A. W. Dyer’s decision to downsize after 20 years in residence.

Cotswolds contemporary

Dixton Manor, Strutt & Parker, £7m

Last, but by no means least, Strutt & Parker‘s pièce de résistance-with a guide price of £7m-is the spectacular, Grade II* listed Dixton Manor at Dixton, a peaceful hamlet on the western slopes of Dixton Hill, five miles north-east of Cheltenham. Described by selling agent Luke Morgan as ‘Grade II* with a contemporary twist’ the historic, grey-gabled manor house was the home of Sir Charles Hambro, when it was the subject of successive articles in Country Life (April 26 and May 3, 1946).

Bought by its present American owner in 2006, the manor, which stands in some 95 acres of parkland, paddocks, woods and farmland, was renovated throughout a year later, with interiors designed by New York-based Muriel Brandolini-and no expense spared, inside or out. It stands on the site of a substantial stone house built in 1555, and incorporates the porch and gabled west wing of the manor house rebuilt by Sir John Hugford, twice sheriff of the county. In 1592, he was knighted by Elizabeth I, who visited Dixton Manor that same year. The present manor house was largely rebuilt in the early 1700s, and has seven reception rooms, eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a staff flat. Further accommodation is available in the converted former coach house and two estate cottages.

As part of the recent renovation project, Alasdair Cameron Designs was instructed to create a contemporary landscape in sympathy with the manor’s Elizabethan architecture, and the surrounding farmland setting. The result, says the agents, is ‘a striking new, yet modern functional garden that provides both inspiration and solace’. Given the manor’s relatively ambitious guide price, that may be no bad thing.

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