Country houses for sale

Perfect properties for Guildford commuters

Guildford commuters will be spoilt for choice with these perfect properties in Surrey.

As the country-house market on both sides of the border heaves a collective sigh of relief at the outcome of the Scottish referendum, Nigel Mitchell of Knight Frank in Guildford (01483 565171) is hoping that vendors of high-value houses in the Surrey Hills will also vote for common sense in the months to come.

There are far too many over-priced properties out there and vendors who genuinely want to sell this side of Christmas must be realistic in terms of price. A lot of people are looking, but purchasers need to feel reassured that they’re not paying over the odds and that whatever they are buying represents a sound investment. They need to feel confident that, should the need arise, they can sell again quickly and get their money back.’

He continues: ‘Another reason why sales to London buyers have been few and far between in recent months, is that, contrary to the euphoria that still surrounds the London market, there is actually a log-jam of London owners who want to move but can’t, because they’ve not yet managed to sell their houses in the capital. In my view, both vendors and buyers should be aware that the next 6–8 weeks probably represent a window of opportunity that may not reappear this side of next year’s General Election.’

With so much political uncertainty swirling around, it’s no surprise that the sector most affected by the turmoil is the upper end of the country-house market, where a purchase requires not only a substantial financial commitment, but a lifestyle commitment as well. However, that didn’t prevent the swift disposal—for considerably more than its £6 million guide price—of the exquisite Charles Hill Court at Tilford (pictured above), near Farnham, following its launch onto the market in May through Knight Frank and Savills.

Built in 1908, to the designs of English enfant terrible Detmar Blow and his Paris-trained colleague Fernand Billerey, dreamy Charles Hill Court stands in 18 acres of spectacular gardens and grounds, against the backdrop of the majestic Surrey Hills. Following an inspirational renovation by its previous owner, the house clearly matched the mood of the moment, being neither too big nor too small and clearly just right for today’s enigmatic market.

In 1911, A History of the County of Surrey attributed the survival of the unspoilt landscape and picturesque villages of what is now the Surrey Hills AONB to ‘the presence of the Duke of Northumberland’s seat at Albury Park, and the wise action of other local landowners, such as the Butlers, Earls of Ormond, the Audleys, and the Brays, (who) have operated to keep the speculating builder at arm’s length’. So it is entirely appropriate that three of the most exciting newcomers to the Surrey autumn market should be located within this glorious landscape, yet within easy striking distance of the thriving commuter hub of Guildford.

Country Life

Imposing Dalton Hill at Albury has been sensitively renovated and extended. £3.75m.

The viewings are already piling up for imposing Dalton Hill at Albury, three miles from Guildford, chortles Mr Mitchell, who quotes a guide price of £3.75m. From the 1760s until at least the 1930s, Dalton Hill was the home of the Malthus family, whose best-known member was Thomas Robert Malthus, author of the pessimistic An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), which linked population growth with growing poverty, and led to (or accelerated) the launch of the first national census in 1801.

In about 1875, the then incumbent of Dalton Hill built the present high-Victorian country house in its time-honoured location overlooking its own 51⁄2 acres of gardens and paddock, the picturesque Tillingbourne valley and the surrounding Surrey Hills. Built in the traditional Surrey country-house style of red brick, with part tile-hung elevations under a tiled roof, Dalton Hill has been extensively and sympathetically renovated by Sussex-based architect Ian Adam-Smith for its current owners, who bought it 13 years ago.

Unlike so many Victorian country houses, the 9,000sq ft of living space at Dalton Hill is light, airy and uncluttered. The accommodation includes four main reception rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen and breakfast room, a study, a gymnasium, master and guest suites with four bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, plus a studio flat, four more bedrooms, a games room and a kitchen/breakfast room on the second. An impressive addition is the beautifully designed family room, which opens out onto the splendid infinity pool and views of a landscape that is definitely ‘to dive for’.

No Surrey buyer’s wishlist would be complete without the inclusion of a classic Lutyens house with a garden designed by the legendary Gertrude Jekyll. For sale for the first time in 50 years, at a guide price of £3.7m through Savills (01483 796820), Grade II-listed Hazelhatch at Shere, seven miles from Guildford, stands in 10 acres of gardens, orchard and woodland on the northern edge of the Hurtwood Forest in the heart of the AONB.

Country Life

Just what the Surrey buyer is looking for: Hazelhatch at Shere is one of the stylish collaborations between Lutyens and Jekyll. £3.7m.

The house was built in Lutyens’s trademark ‘Surrey vernacular’ style in 1897—the year that saw his mar-riage to Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton and the launch of Country Life, whose enthusiastic support of both Lutyens and Jekyll helped to cement their professional reputations.

The first recorded conveyance of Hazelhatch was from Lord Ashcombe to Lady Sarah Spencer; it was later owned by the influential Bray family, before being taken on by its last owner. The house has five reception rooms, a kitchen, a pantry, seven bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms, with has the potential to be sensitively upgraded to an elegant family home.

The grounds, initially laid out by Jekyll, although some of the detail has changed over the years, are a key feature of the property, especially the original sunken garden with its stone retaining wall and flower borders.

Classic Georgian country houses are rare in Surrey, and the launch onto the market, in today’s Country Life, of tranquil Warehams Farmhouse at Sutton Green, 31⁄2 miles from Guildford, will have Mr Mitchell’s phone ringing any minute now.

Country Life

Classic Georgian houses like Warehams Farmhouse at Sutton Green are rare in Surrey. £4m.

Once part of the late Paul Getty’s Sutton Place estate, the house was originally the centrepiece of the estate dairy farm, built in about 1780, with later additions in 1840 and 1998— the latter a kitchen, family room and study extension added by the current owners, who bought the 30-acre holding in 1992.

Knight Frank quote a guide price of £4m for the tastefully renovated, 5,200sq ft farmhouse, which has four reception rooms, master and guest suites, four further bedrooms and a family bathroom. The gardens— landscaped by Stephen Woodham —are a delight and the surrounding post-and-railed paddocks a perfect playground for horses, which can safely graze close to the formal gardens, thanks to the installation of a ha-ha that allows the owners a clear view across their land towards the adjoining Sutton Place estate.

* Surrey country houses for sale

* This article was first published in Country Life magazine on October 1, 2014