What can go wrong will go wrong. It’s called Murphy’s Law, and for scientists and engineers, it explains the perversity of the universe and its moving parts. For a handful of country-house owners, it means settling into the dream home you were planning to spend the next 20 years of your life in, and suddenly finding you’re on the move again. But at least the process keeps the wheels of estate agency turning in difficult times, as last year’s buyers become this year’s vendors for whatever reason.
Sam Trounson of Strutt & Parker in Cirencester knows every elegant inch of Grade II-listed Meysey Hampton Manor in the village of Meysey Hampton, between Fairford and Cirencester, having sold it in 2003 and again in August last year. Having bought the impeccably refurbished Georgian village manor house-an entity much prized but rarely found in the Cotswolds-the new owners duly moved there from Buckinghamshire.
But, two weeks ago, their striking Cotswold manor was back on the market through Strutt & Parker (01285 653101) at £3.25 million, the price at which they bought it. The reason for sale was simple: they loved the house, but found they didn’t enjoy living in the area, so apparently it’s back to Buckinghamshire for them. Set in 1.7 acres of walled garden and grounds, Meysey Hampton Manor dates from about 1500 and was enlarged and gentrified in the early to mid 18th century. Sir John Soane is reputed to have had a hand in the remodelling, and the fine oval main staircase is attributed to him.
The house is approached from the village through stone pillars along a gravel driveway which sweeps round into a courtyard of 18th-century outbuildings that include a Cotswold-stone coach house, stabling and a barn -all with potential for conversion. The interior of the manor is classically Georgian, but with a fresh, contemporary feel, and includes four reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.
For the discerning weekly commuter to the capital, the area around the increasingly trendy village of Tisbury, with its regular train service to London Waterloo, is one of Wiltshire’s very best-kept secrets-it was a thriving centre of commerce in medieval times, when most of the land was owned by Shaftesbury Abbey. A mile east of Tisbury, the pretty Nadder Valley village of Chicksgrove, with its busy corn mill and Chilmark-stone quarry, was also a hive of industry from medieval to late Victorian times. Last week saw the launch in Country Life of the idyllic Mill House at Chicksgrove, at a guide price of £2.75m through Knight Frank in Sherborne (01935 812236).
This involved another swift turnaround on the part of its owner, the enterprising holder of a Toni & Guy franchise in Salisbury, who also manufactures his own range of beauty products. Having bought the mill privately from its previous owner six months ago, he further improved the interior of the house, which has been extended over the years, incorporating the former miller’s cottage built of Chilmark stone, as well as some mid- Victorian additions, built of mellow brick under tile.
The result is a stylish, modern, uncluttered family house in a glorious setting overlooking the mill leat, whose splendid drawing room with its vaulted ceiling and arched French windows recalls its ancient links with Shaftesbury Abbey. Generous accommodation includes four/ five reception rooms, a kitchen/ breakfast room, a gallery, three bedroom suites, four further bedrooms and two bathrooms. Having finished the project, however, he and his wife have concluded that the mill is just too big for their needs, given their own business and family commitments, hence their decision to sell and look for something smaller in the area. Mill House, with its 3.3 acres of gardens and riverside terraces, former coach house and stables and fishing on both banks of the River Nadder, offers a new owner many delightful ways of whiling away the long daylight hours that will soon be here again.
Having bought Grade II-listed, 18th-century Greenfields at Wepham, in the South Downs National Park near Arundel, in late 2011, Mrs Christina Tuncel and her husband were looking forward to working together on renovating the classic, brick and- flint Sussex house set in more than an acre of lovely gardens, with matchless views across the Arun Valley towards Arundel Castle. Tragically, Mr Tuncel died suddenly a short time later and, with their three children away at boarding school, Mrs Tuncel decided to soldier on, and complete the refurbishment of the house and gardens on her own. ?It seemed the best thing to do at the time,’ she says quietly.
A year on, the house-where the previous owners had lived comfortably for 35 years-has been completely revitalised, its tired oak floors and beams renewed, its bathrooms upgraded, its kitchen modernised, its windows repaired and fitted with shutters, and its huge old flint hallway repointed and restored. Renamed Old Flint Hall, the house now has three/four reception rooms, a kitchen/ breakfast room (with planning consent to extend), five bedrooms and four bathrooms in the main building, plus a further two bedrooms, a bathroom, a lounge and a kitchen/breakfast room in a separate cottage annexe. Mrs Tuncel and her family are now ready to move on, and Old Flint Hall has been put on the market at a guide price of £1.375m through Strutt & Parker (01243 832600).