East Anglia has always been shaped by the sea, and the people who live there are used to seeing their fortunes ebb and flow. So, after more than a decade of solid growth throughout the region, East Anglian country-house agents are generally unruffled at the prospect of a possible 10%15% fall in property prices this year. The tide comes in, and the tide goes out, Nigel Steele of Jackson-Stops & Staff says philo-sophically, adding: I can see a return to a more old-fashioned market, where first-division properties will continue to hold their value, and second-division ones, particularly second homes, will bear the brunt of any fallout from events in the City.
Mr Steeles take on the possibility of Norfolk disappearing beneath the waves in the next 50 years, should the Government decide to run with Natural Englands controversial do nothing option with regard to the countys future flood defences (Agromenes, April 3), is equally pragmatic. Five years ago, the members of Brancaster golf club raised millions to erect a massive concrete barrier to protect the course from flooding, but were stopped by the planners; since then, weve had a couple of surges, when the sea has come in and gone out again, leaving Brancaster golf club still very much there. In fact, thanks to a number of initiatives being taken by the Environment Agency to upgrade the coastal drainage system in north Norfolk, we now have more coastline than ever before.
And, given that precious coastlines enduring appeal, Jackson-Stops & Staff (01603 612333) can expect to find buyers for the few marine properties currently on their books. They include pretty Georgian Hill House at Blakeney, for sale at £975,000, and former Norwich City manager Bruce Riochs impeccably restored Holm Mere at Ludham in the Broads, which comes with a guide price of £1.2 million. Of all the Eastern counties, commuter-friendly Suffolk, with its excellent choice of schools, offers the widest selection of country properties for families looking to settle in the area. A Georgian old rectory near fashionable Bury St Edmunds would rank high on any buyers wish-list, but, nowadays, the chances of finding one are slim indeed. So the launch onto the market in todays Country Life of not one, but two former rectories which exactly match that description is bound to send a frisson of excitement through the marketplace.
Strutt & Parkers Ipswich office (01473 214841) quotes a guide price of £2m for the classic Georgian Old Rectory in pretty Hartest village, seven miles south of Bury. Originally built as two storeys in the early 19th century, with a third added in about 1850, the imposing Gault-brick house, listed Grade II, was renovated throughout some eight years ago. It stands in 1.8 acres of wooded landscaped grounds and has four main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a family room, a large master suite, seven further bedrooms and three further bathrooms, plus a two-bedroom coach house and outbuildings.
The quintessential Georgian Old Rectory at Ingham, four miles north of Bury St Edmunds, stands in 2.5 acres of lovely gardens and grounds next to the church on the edge of the village, with lovely open views across the rolling Suffolk countryside. Built in about 1840 with later additions, it, too, is listed Grade II, and has four main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a master suite, six further bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms, as well as
a cottage, a coach house, outbuildings and stabling. Bedfords in Bury St Edmunds (01284 769999) quote a guide price of £1.875m for the charming Old Rectory, which, they suggest, would be ideal for two generations of the same family, given that the north wing has its own separate staircase.
For buyers who cant quite afford the ultimate prize, today also sees the launch of two appealing traditional Suffolk farmhouses, each of which has its own unique character. Savills in Bury St Edmunds (01284 731105) quote a guide price of £695,000 for timber-framed, 17th-century Hollybush Farmhouse in the picturesque village of Rattlesden, between Bury and Stow-market. For 20 years, this quiet old five-bedroom farmhouse, with its beautiful oak beams, polished stone floors and galleried dining room (the ideal setting for many a family party), has been the much-cherished home of plant pathologist Michael Asher and his wife, Barbara, who will miss their garden and its moat always alive with ducklings at this time of year.
And reflecting the new reality of the commuter market in the east, Jackson-Stops & Staff in Ipswich (01473 218218) quote a guide price of £775,000 for tranquil Hollow Lane Farm, which sits nicely tucked away on a narrow country lane in Badingham, within the catchment area of Thomas Mills High School, the countys best-performing senior school, and only a short run from Framlingham College, five miles to the south-west. The Victorian red-brick farmhouse has three reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a garden/family room, five bedrooms and two bathrooms.