You may never want to move from these two Surrey houses.
It’s a sad fact of life these days that few families live in the same house throughout their growing-up years, although the soaring cost of moving suggests that future demographic trends may take us in that direction once again.
‘We moved here in the autumn of 1970 with our two small sons, and had two more after that. They’re all in their forties now and have never known any other family home. They were dismayed when we told them we were selling and we’ll be very sad to leave, but time marches on,’ sighs Patrick Vaughan, the reluctant vendor of enchanting, Grade II-listed June Farm near Reigate, Surrey, which has been launched on the market through the Guildford office of Strutt & Parker (01483 306565) at a guide price of £6 million.
Having had only three owners in the past 100 years or more, June Farm is clearly one of those houses that no one wants to leave. The late Sir Neville Faulks—a distinguished High Court judge and the great-uncle of the writer Sebastian Faulks—who sold the house to Mr Vaughan, lived there for several decades. It was apparently Sir Neville’s predecessor who modernised and renovated the former 17th-century, timber-framed farmstead in the early 20th century, employing one of Sir Edwin Lutyens’s best-known pupils to link the original farmhouse and barn with a central building whose dramatic sweeping roof was a device much favoured by the master.
Mr and Mrs Vaughan have made numerous changes to the house and its 25 acres of grounds over the years, redesigning the bathrooms, adding a large conservatory, moving the sheltered swimming pool and redesigning the immaculate gardens. A gym, hobby room, vegetable garden, greenhouse and tennis court have all been strategically placed within the garden area to allow for privacy and independence whatever the chosen activity of the day.
The building work carried out inside the house, which takes the form of a medieval walled courtyard overlooking ornamental rose gardens and a carp pond, was overseen by Guildford-based architect and buildings historian Richard Greening. The interconnecting drawing room, dining hall and conservatory provide a wonderful entertaining space. The double-height dining hall has a dramatic viewing gallery and all three rooms take full advantage of the glorious south-westerly views. This side of the house has been extended by incorporating the conservatory plus adding onto the billiard room and the master bedroom above.
June Farm boasts some delightfully quirky corners, including the octagonal study that links the main section of the ground floor to what could be a separate wing with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchenette and a sitting/playroom—ideal in case of a mass invasion by grandchildren, of which the Vaughans currently have 10. In total, the house has five reception rooms, eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
Thoroughbred jumping horses are Mrs Vaughan’s passion and the equine accommodation and facilities are equipped to the same high level as every other aspect of June Farm. The equestrian centre comprises 18 loose boxes, a hay barn, a feed room, a tack room, a rug room, a solarium, a horse walker‘, a sand school and seven post-and-railed paddocks.
Apart from watermills, few domestic buildings have survived in England from Saxon times. The Domesday Book records many mills in Surrey, among them Leigh Mill at Godstone (near the Saxon village of Wolcnested), which stands on the banks of the Stratton Brook at the south end of the old village. Corn was last ground here before the First World War and, for almost 900 years, the local inhabitants baked their bread from its flour and fed their animals on its meal. They had little choice in the matter, as they were obliged to have their corn ground at the lord of the manor’s mill, enriching the miller in the process, as a result of which millers were viewed with suspicion by the populace.
In 1349, the village was devastated by the plague and the watermill, by then ‘rickety and ruinous’, remained tenantless and in ruins until 1423 or thereabouts, when it was owned by the St Clair family.
According to the diarist John According Evelyn, it was his grandfather, George, who brought gunpowder to Godstone Mills. Until 1562, gunpowder had to be imported into England because no one in the country knew how to make saltpetre, one of its main con- stituents. Then, a German captain, who knew the secret, fled to England to escape religious persecution in Europe, and was paid £300 by Elizabeth I to teach Englishmen the art. Within a year, gunpowder was being produced in the country and, soon, George was making gunpowder for the government at Godstone.
The mills were eventually closed in 1636 and corn was again ground at Leigh Mill in competition with the local windmills, but it outlasted them all. Although the iron water-wheel no longer turns, there is nothing dilapidated about the present 18th-century building, built of red brick and white weatherboarding under a mansard tiled roof, which has been charmingly converted to a private house and meticulously cared for by its present owners, who have lived there for 35 years.
For sale through Knight Frank in Sevenoaks (01732 744477) at a guide price of £2.75m, Leigh Mill House, listed Grade II, is an elegant country house set in more than 24 acres of manicured gardens, grounds and paddocks, including a three-acre fishing lake, with a one-bedroom lake cottage.
The main house comprises some 5,700sq ft of living accommodation, including three main reception rooms, a study/library, a kitchen/breakfast room, two large bedroom suites, four further bedrooms and two further bathrooms.