As a Cotswolds agent of 23 years’ standing, Sam Butler of Butler Sherborn has seen the highs and lows of the country-house market from all sides. He recalls how, in the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cotswolds was the last place to slow down, and the first to get moving again. This time round, following the initial shock that has seen trading volumes in the region slump by more than 50% since the beginning of the year, he feels that buyers and vendors have acclimatised to the new situation much more quickly than in the previous downturn.
But life goes on, and although we are far from out of the woods, Mr Butler expects the unusually interesting selection of fresh country properties being launched on the market this month to create ‘a bit of an autumn bounce’ in the Cotswolds. Top of the tree, in price terms, is Grade II*-listed Oddington House at Lower Oddington in the heart of the region, between Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold, which is for sale for the first time in 30-odd years, through Savills (020–7016 3789) at a guide price of £10 million. The former seat of the Chamber-layne family, Oddington House dates from the 17th century, but was enlarged and remodelled in 1810 by Sir John Reade of nearby Shipton Court. Then, in 1870, Lady Reade had a wing removed to make the house a more manageable size, since when it has rarely changed hands.
The gracious Georgian house, which needs gentle updating, has 53 acres of formal gardens, pasture and woodland, plus three main reception rooms, a study, a playroom, extensive domestic offices, master and guest suites, 10 further bedrooms and three family bathrooms. Ancillary buildings include a four-bedroom lodge, a two-bedroom staff flat and a large stone tythe barn, plus stabling and garages. Savills (020–7499 8644) are also handling the sale, at a guide price of excess £6m, of the superbly renovated Saddlewood Manor at Leighterton, near Tetbury, which sits quietly in 172 acres of some of Gloucestershire’s most unspoilt countryside, adjoining the prestigious Badminton estate.
The classic, 7,271sq ft Cotswold stone manor house, listed Grade II, has four reception rooms, a splendiferous kitchen/breakfast room, master and guest suites, four further bedrooms and three further bathrooms. The main house is surrounded by formal and ornamental gardens and a number of pretty Cotswold stone buildings, which include an indoor pool complex, a dovecote, a converted party barn, garaging and two cottages. In addition to planting some 10,000 trees in the past three years, the owner has used the bulk of the land to create the ultimate polo complex, with a 30-box stone stable yard, a large clear-span American barn with 24 more boxes, an outdoor all-weather manège, a 2,000ft exercise track, a 25-acre polo field and 125 acres of manicured post-and-railed paddocks.
Atty Beor-Roberts of Knight Frank in Cirencester (01285 659771) is greatly heartened by the growing number of vendors who have decided to take the bull (or should it be the bear) by the horns, and launch their classic Cotswold properties on the market now, rather than wait to see what next year brings. Last sold some 20 years ago, enchanting Grade II-listed Windrush Manor sits in five acres of delightful gardens and paddocks on the edge of Windrush village, bordering the National Trust’s Sherborne estate in the Windrush Valley AONB. Now on offer at a guide price of £3m, the 6,425sq ft house, former home of Lord Sherborne’s sister, has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a master suite, six further bedrooms and three further bathrooms. Outbuildings include a Cotswold-stone stable block, stores and a large traditional stone barn. Meanwhile, Knight Frank in London (020–7629 8171) and Bath (01225 325999) are handling the sale of another Cotswold gem, handsome, Grade II-listed West Kington House, in the pretty hamlet of West Kington, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, at a guide price £4m.
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Built in the early 19th century of stone under a traditional stonetiled roof, the elegant, 6,379sq ft, four-storey former rectory sits in 13.3 acres of exquisite gardens, grounds, woodland and pasture, traversed by the winding Broadmead Brook. The present owners have extensively renovated the house, which has three reception rooms, a kitchen/family room, a luxurious master suite, five/seven further bedrooms and three further bathrooms. Other buildings include two cottages, a magnificent listed stone barn with stabling, stores and an all-weather manège. With prices in the Cotswolds down by an average of 10%–15% since the beginning of the year and many still falling, buyers shouldn’t be afraid to put in a bid for the house of their dreams, says William Leschallas of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Burford (01993 822661).
He recently announced price reductions on several good family houses, including the four-bedroom Whiteoaks on The Hill at Burford, launched in April at £1.5m, and now on offer at £1.35m; and The Old Chapel at Windrush, a converted Methodist chapel, which came to the market in June at £725,000, a price recently cut to £685,000. In that context, the guide price of £1.45m quoted by the firm’s Chipping Campden office (01386 840224) for the classic, 17th-century, five-bedroom Eddon House with 6.5 acres of gardens and grounds at Darlingscott, Warwickshire, is surely not over the top, even in these difficult times.