Country houses for sale

The recession-proof country house

West Country
By Martin Lamb of Savills

What A Queen Anne or Georgian family house (or new-build in that style)
Where Devon with estuary views
Price £2 million to £3 million

The kind of house that really makes us catch our breath in this part of the country is a classic Queen Anne or Georgian house rendered in white with a Cornish slate roof and views overlooking an estuary-estuaries are so much more interesting than sea views because there’s always traffic on the river. It could even be a newly built house as long as it’s of a classic style, and it needn’t be too big-five or six bedrooms would be sufficient.

The house would have to be full of light and open to the garden. It would sit down a long but discreet drive of gravel-around here, the sight of Tarmac might invite unwelcome lost tourists to the door. Outside, the garden would be of a manageable size and filled with camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.

There would need to be a cottage for ancillary accommodation and, most importantly, water access with a boat house. There’s no need for a swimming pool or tennis court, but for the house to really appeal to our most active buyers, it would need decent acreage, not necessarily for farming, but mostly to ensure privacy.

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Savills Exeter (01392 455755)

South Downs
by Andrew Ferrier of Jackson-Stops & Staff

What Typical Downland family house
Where Between Midhurst and Petworth
Price £1.5 million to £1.75 million

My ideal house to sell right now is a classic Downland family home of stone and brick coins with a little bit of tile hanging to the upper elevations. It should have four or five bedrooms, so not overly large, and a good eat-in kitchen that leads onto a terrace.

The garden needn’t be that big either-half an acre to an acre will do, and it should be made up of lawn and herbaceous borders with the odd yew hedge, and perhaps a seat under an old oak tree. The views should open out to the Downs through parkland fencing. Outbuildings should comprise stables, a good-sized dog kennel and a two- or three-bay cart barn with a log store to one side.

Jackson-Stops & Staff Midhurst (01730 812357)

By Tim Waring of Knight Frank

What Stone-built Dales farmhouse
Where Lower Dales village
How much £750,000 to £1.5 million

Location is key to selling houses in a tough market in our area, so my ideal house to sell would have to be in a Lower Dales village that’s within striking distance of Leeds, the recently upgraded A1M, the east-coast mainline and Leeds-Bradford airport. It would be on the edge of a village that has a pub, a primary school and a little shop-not an impossibility these days, as we’ve had two or three villages opening up stores in recent years.

The house would be stone under a Yorkshire-slate roof, probably built in the 18th or early 19th century. The secret is finding a house that isn’t a low, squat farmhouse, but has high ceilings. I’d want stone-flagged floors with underfloor heating, an inglenook fireplace, an Aga in the kitchen and, ideally, a ground-source heat pump. It needn’t be large-3-5 bedrooms will suffice-and the reception rooms should make the most of the glorious views.

There’s no need for a big sweeping garden, but something bounded by classic dry-stone walls, laid out on different levels, with perhaps a rose garden and a wood on the west side to protect it from the prevailing winds.

Knight Frank Harrogate (01423 530088)

Home Counties

By Mark Jamieson of Strutt & Parker
What Georgian farmhouse
Where Within commutable distance of London (60-90 minutes), so Winchester, Pangbourne or Newbury
How much Excess £2 million (targeting buyers with a budget of £4 million)

In this market, if I had one elevator pitch to potential buyers, it would be that I have a house that has been in the same family for 50 years. This immediately tells any prospective buyers that the house has been loved and that it has atmosphere. It’d have to be Georgian and would be a farmhouse on the edge of a village where you can walk to the pub or the church, but, crucially, from where you could be at your desk in London within an hour and a half.

The layout would be simple: a few large and beautifully proportioned rooms where you could hang some good pictures and entertain. It shouldn’t be a house full of glamour and glitz, but should be unspoilt. Outside might be a pool that the family installed in the 1960s and is reminiscent of
a prep school, as well as the semb-lance of a tennis court in a ragged state. Price-wise, with a house like this that needs work but has heart and soul, we’d go with a low asking price to generate competition. This is what sells in a recession.

Strutt & Parker Guildford (01483 306565)


By Jamie Macnab of Savills
What Pretty stone-built Georgian manse
Where St Andrews, Fife
How much Offers over £860,000

Our market is particularly tough at the moment, but we had a house on recently that I could have sold several times over-quite simply, it had it all. It was just beautiful and had wonderful sea views, plus its close proximity to the St Andrews Golf Club meant that it attracted international interest.

But size is also important in this part of the world. Whereas in London everyone is busy digging out the basement and extending into the roof to maximise the size of their house, here, you more or less try and disown the attic floor, as there’s just too much superfluous space in many Scottish baronial piles.

Outside, there should be a good two-bedroom guest cottage, some formal gardens and a pretty walled garden-all in a manageable area of just under two acres. This house has everything a family needs on a smaller scale, so it’s very liveable and appeals to a range of buyers, from young couples to Scots living overseas who want a base at home to over-55 semi-retirees.

Savills Edinburgh (0131-247 3700)


By Atty Beor-Roberts of Knight Frank
What Georgian country house set in 100 acres
Where North Cotswolds between North-
leach, Winchcombe and Stow-on-the-Wold
How much Between £7 million and £10 million, depending on its condition

The perfect house to sell would be a Georgian country house built of Cotswold stone under a Cotswold-stone-tiled roof in a parkland setting. The drive would pass through the parkland, via a small lake and clumps of woodland up to the house, which would be set fairly centrally in the land, away from any road noise, planes, railways and without a pylon in sight. The acreage would be divided up, with about 40 dedicated to parkland, 40 to fields, 10-12 of woodland and about five acres immediately surrounding the house, which would include a stable yard, garden and walled garden.

Inside, the house would open to a good hall with a large (30ft by 20ft) drawing room with a dining room leading off it. The kitchen/breakfast room would have a four-oven Aga and French windows opening onto a west-facing terrace and the whole house should enjoy views over the Cotswold hills and valleys.

There would be a small sitting room leading off the kitchen and then the usual domestic offices, including a large boot room. Upstairs, the master bedroom would have two bath/dressing rooms and three further bedroom suites. The ‘children’s floor’ would have a further three bedrooms and a study area.

A short distance from the house would be a traditional stable yard with about eight stables, a two-
bedroom cottage and a one-bedroom flat. The gardens need to be formal, but not large so that one gardener wouldn’t be able to cope. Out of sight from the house would be a hard tennis court.

Knight Frank Cirencester (01285 659771)


By Caroline Edwards of Carter Jonas
What A Georgian village house in need of work
Where A prime village within commutable distance of London, with amenities
How much £750,000 to £1 million

In tough market conditions, the sort of property that buyers will pounce on around here tends to be brick-built and of Georgian/Regency/Queen Anne style with large front windows, a central front door with a fanlight and, preferably, a portico. Most importantly, it needs to be a house that requires complete modernisation and which has scope for extending.

Outside, I’d say that 11⁄2 acres is enough, and it needs to sit in established gardens with roses, hollyhocks, climbing wisteria, box hedging and a kitchen garden. The position should be on the edge of a village with a backdrop of gently rolling Suffolk countryside, but within walking distance of the shop or pub. And finally, the village needs to be close to a mainline station for London commuters as well as good schools.

Carter Jonas Long Melford (01787 882881)