Country houses for sale

Property for sale in the South Downs

The creation of the South Downs National Park, which stretches for some 100 miles from Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, in the east, to St Catherine’s Hill, near Winchester, Hampshire, in the west, means the area that already included the South Downs and East Hampshire Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will now be guaranteed even greater protection under the planning system. An outcome that developers and some local authorities aren’t entirely happy about, but which will undoubtedly please the 108,000 people lucky enough to live within the park, and the estimated 37 million tourists who visit it each year.

The scenic South Downs area has long been favoured by writers and artists, and many Country Life readers will be familiar with the whimsical, free-flowing style of illustrator Paul Cox. He and his wife are selling pretty, Grade II-listed Twytten House (pictured), their family home in the historic downland village of Wilmington, East Sussex, through Strutt & Parker (01273 475411) at a guide price of £1.2 million. Previously known as Street Farm, Twytten House dates from the 17th century or earlier, and was bought for £675 in 1912 by the landscape artist Harold Swanwick, a regular exhibitor at the RA, whose family eventually sold it to Mr Cox.


Twytten House


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Built of brick and flint under a clay-tile roof, the house has bright, well-proportioned rooms, including three main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large attic. Outbuildings include two studios and a brick-and-flint former stable. ‘Perhaps the most vital aspect of the romantic garden is that it should provide you with a strong sense of sanctuary’ reads the introduction to Graham Rose’s The Romantic Garden, which was illustrated by Mr Cox. The artist may well have drawn inspiration for that work from his own magical walled garden, which offers many tempting glimpses of the South Downs. Mr Cox has specially created an illustration of his home for Twytten’s sales brochure.

The Lewes office of Strutt& Parker is also handling the sale, at £2.8m, of Furlong House at Hurstpier-point, West Sussex, which stands on high ground at the edge of the village and has magnificent panoramic views.

The house was built in 1905, by local vicar Richard Aubrey Bevan after he married Lady Mary Waldegrave. Unimpressed by his existing abode, her ladyship had it demolished and replaced with the present, three-storey neo-Georgian house, which has four reception rooms, a playroom/breakfast room, a family kitchen, eight bedrooms, four bath/shower rooms, a nursery, dressing room and a three-bedroom cottage room enough, one imagines, for the happy couple, their five children and the usual retinue of servants. Modern amenities include a heated swimming pool, an all-weather tennis court and 2.7 acres of landscaped gardens.

Surrounded by 3,500 acres of farmland and woodland owned by the National Trust, the charming Saxon village of Slindon, four miles from Arundel, West Sussex, sits on a shelf of the South Downs, from where the view sweeps across the coastal plain to the Channel. Most of the village is also owned by the Trust, so it’s rare indeed to find a freehold house on the market, particularly one as delightful as The Grange on Church Hill, a Grade II-listed Queen Anne village house with Georgian additions for which Jackson-Stops & Staff (01243 786316) want ‘offers over £2m’.

For 300 years, the house, then called Newlands, was the home of the Newland family, one of whom, Richard Newland, is credited with founding the modern game of cricket; in the early 18th century, Slindon fielded one of the strongest sides in England. In 1878, Hilaire Belloc was brought here by his mother in the hope that her sickly son would benefit from the healthy country air. It was she who renamed it The Grange, and he who acquired a lifelong love of Sussex.

The house, which is at the heart of the village, yet close to miles of open countryside and some of the finest hacking in Sussex, is set in enchanting gardens, surrounded by 7ft-high flint walls, beyond which can be seen the tower of the nearby parish church, as mentioned by Mme Belloc in her book In a Walled Garden. The house has four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The grounds include two brick-and-flint stables and a post-and-railed grass paddock.

Mark Astley of Jackson-Stops is also handling the sale of classic late-Georgian Walderton House at Walderton, West Sussex, eight miles north-west of Chichester, at a guide price of £2.95m. Lovingly restored by its present owners, the house retains such typically Georgian features as stone-flagged floors, sash windows with working shutters, panelling and open fireplaces; the kitchen still has its original vaulted ceiling, flagstone floor and copper.

An impressive reception hall leads through to the conservatory, which has casement doors onto the pretty walled garden, to the east of which is a heated swimming pool. There are three reception rooms, a playroom, a kitchen/breakfast room, five bedrooms and two bathrooms. Former stables have been converted to provide garaging and a self-contained studio annexe. Included in the sale is the field to the north of the house, making a total of 14 acres of grounds.

Across the border in east Hampshire, George Clarendon of Knight Frank in Winchester cites the area’s pretty villages, thriving communities, excellent schools and easy access to London and the South Coast as the reasons for its perennial appeal. Another positive factor in terms of property values will be the opening, in mid 2011, of the 1.2-mile Hindhead Tunnel, which will cut journey times considerably and open the area to people who might otherwise baulk at moving so far south of London.

Knight Frank (01962 850333) quote a guide price of £2.4m for idyllic Grade II-listed Lower Chidden Farmhouse, at Chidden, two miles from Hambledon, dubbed ‘the cradle of cricket’ and one of the county’s most sought-after villages. Originally built in the 1600s, the farmhouse, set in five acres of mature gardens and paddocks, was substantially extended in the 1800s, and further enlarged and refurbished by the current owners some 10 years ago. It has four reception rooms, a superb kitchen/breakfast room, six/seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, and glorious views of the Downs. A large courtyard of outbuildings includes garaging, two loose boxes, stores and a spacious barn.

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