Country houses for sale

Hope for the country-house market

Heartened by a significant increase in the number of buyer enquiries and viewings recorded in January, country agents everywhere are scanning the landscape for signs of those elusive ‘green shoots of recovery’. It’s still early days, but the launch of the first batch of classic country houses to hit the market in 2009 will surely provide a pointer as to how things will go for the rest of the year.

Gracious Upperfold House, near Fernhurst, West Sussex, exudes the elegance of a bygone age, and is the kind of house that any country-lover would dream of living in. Bought in the 1960s by the late Sir Terence Morrison- Scott (1908–91), an eminent zoologist and former director of the Natural History Museum, Upperfold was the home of his widow, the redoubtable Lady Morrison- Scott, until her death last year. It is now on the market through the Midhurst offices of Jackson- Stops & Staff (01730 812357) and Strutt & Parker (01730 812159), at a guide price of £2.75 million. Of Tudor origin with later 1930s additions, timeless Upperfold House sits in 22 acres of classic parkland, surrounded by formal landscaped gardens with areas of lawn and topiary, a croquet lawn, and masses of scattered trees and shrubs with herbaceous borders. The main house, which is unlisted, has three principal reception rooms, five bedrooms and three bathrooms, and, to the rear, a cobbled courtyard with a coach house, outbuildings and a staff flat. Given the current shortage of good houses for sale, and the interest already expressed by a number of potential purchasers, Andrew Ferrier of Jackson-Stops is confident that this is one to beat the downturn.

Three years ago, furniture maker Steve Parsons and his partner, landscape architect Liz Simes, bought secluded medieval Old Farm House at Standford, near Liphook, Hampshire, and completed the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed house once owned by rock-star Jimmy Page. The rambling, 7,770sq ft house was in good repair, but a bit dated, so they concentrated on upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms, and renovating the two-bedroom guest flat above the integral garage. The house has three vaulted reception rooms, a dining room, a study, a sitting room, a conservatory and a vaulted gym; bedrooms on two floors include master and guest suites, three further bedrooms and a family bathroom; outbuildings include a large period barn and a heated garage block. Water from the River Wey runs through the 2.6 acres of delightful landscaped gardens, which feature a series of ponds and waterfalls, and a millstone engraved with the names of Jimmy Page’s family. There is also a well-stocked kitchen garden. Having made up their minds to move closer to Winchester where Mr Parsons’ business is based, the couple see no point in waiting for the market to make up its mind. And, with the new tunnel at Hindhead on target for completion in 2010, London buyers are now prepared to move further south in their quest for a country home, adds selling agent Simon English of Strutt & Parker (01428 661077) who quotes a guide price of £1.95m.

As a leading designer of Formula 1 racing cars, 46-year old Mike Gascoyne lives life in the fast lane. With his next career move likely to take him overseas, Mr Gascoyne has decided to sell his Oxfordshire home, imposing Grade II-listed Alvescot House in the conservation village of Alvescot, six miles from Burford. The roomy three storey house, which has 22 acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks, sits handily between church and pub in the centre of the village, and is also conveniently close to the airfield at Brize Norton, where high-fliers such as Mr Gascoyne, whose partner, Silvi, is a qualified pilot, can land and park their private planes. Alvescot House is mainly Georgian, although its origins are earlier, as it is thought to as well as chickens and ducks. Alvescot House is for sale through the Oxford office of John D Wood (01865 311522), at a guide price of £2.25m for the whole, or in two lots. The resurgence of Cheltenham in recent years has much to do with its many excellent schools,

The house was generally in good shape when Mr Gascoyne took it on, and, with characteristic attention to detail, upgraded the interior—including three main reception rooms, a study, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and five bath/shower rooms—converted some outbuildings to a separate flat, and added a swimming pool complex, equestrian facilities and a conservatory. He also bought the adjoining land where the family now keeps rare breeds, which continue to attract both Londoners and homing expats to the area. Savills’ Cheltenham office (01242 548000) is handling the sale of Grade II*-listed, medieval Longdon Hall at Longdon, six miles from Tewkesbury, a wonderful timber-framed house originally built in the 1400s by the Parker family, one of whom was Abbot of Tewkesbury. Owned by the same family since 1914, Longdon Hall was renovated in the 1970s, but still retains some fine original timbers and fireplaces and a marvellous 17th-century oak staircase, which connects three floors and the attic above. Not unexpectedly, it now needs some refurbishment.

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The Hall is currently arranged as a five-bedroom main house with separate self-contained north and south wings, but could easily be converted back to its Victorian layout to give five reception rooms, 10 bedrooms and four bathrooms. It is being offered with its barns, outbuildings, Victorian stabling and eight acres of gardens and grounds, at a guide price of £1.375m; a further 58.5 acres of land is available by separate negotiation.