Last year saw sales of Jaguars, Land Rovers and Range Rovers soar by more than 35%. With further expansion in mind, Tata, the Indian owner of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), the company that makes them, has spent something in the order of £370 million upgrading its massive Solihull plant near Birmingham to handle the production of its new, all-aluminium Range Rover.
The success of West Midlands car-makers such as JLR and Aston Martin is filtering through to the countryside, says James Way of Knight Frank in Stratford-upon-Avon, who has seen a new surge of energy in Warwickshire’s country-house market since the beginning of the year.
A shiny new Aston Martin Vanquish wouldn’t look out of place on the well-raked gravel in front of pristine Old Hills, which sits behind electric wrought-iron gates in a quiet country setting between Beoley and Ullenhall, on the Warwickshire-Worcestershire border. For sale through Knight Frank (01789 297735) at a guide price of ‘excess £1.25 million’, the handsome, 5000sq ft, Georgian-style house was built in about 1912, and comprehensively remodelled, 100 years later, in 2011-12.
The sweet smell of success wafts gently through the large, well-proportioned rooms with their impeccably turned mouldings, cornices and ceiling roses and deep sash windows overlooking the four acres of immaculate lawns and gardens. Space is no object in the grand reception rooms that include a 40ft dining room, lit by windows to the west and north, and two pairs of French doors leading to the south-facing terrace.
The bespoke kitchen is state of the art, with granite worktops, integrated top-of-the-range appliances, a gleaming Porcelanosa tiled floor and a discreetly highlighted dining unit and break-fast bar. Upstairs, the galleried first-floor landing leads to seven large bedrooms, five of which have walk-in power showers and loads of extra room for sofas and chaises-longues.
Should further living space be needed, a detached brick outbuilding, currently used for storage, has scope for conversion to residential use, subject to the usual planning consents. And should the next owner of Old Hills manage to get his hands on a rare 2013 Vanquish, he may be relieved to know that consent already exists for the construction of a new detached triple garage in the grounds.
The imminent redevelopment of the old Peugeot site at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, is likely to increase prosperity in the Coventry-Rugby-Warwick ‘golden triangle’ and attract a fresh wave of professional workers to the area. James Way is currently launching intriguing Tantara Lodge at Stoneleigh, near Kenilworth, at a guide price of £1.25m-the ideal house, he suggests, for a discerning professional couple with one or two children.
Tantara Lodge, listed Grade II, stands on the edge of the historic Stoneleigh Abbey deer park laid out by Humphry Repton around the Grade I-listed Abbey buildings that have evolved over the centuries. The Victorian Gothic lodge, designed in the style of a gate house, was built in the mid 1800s as a folly on the edge of the Stoneleigh Park estate, and takes its name from the fanfare sounded by visiting coachmen to alert servants at the ‘big house’ to the imminent arrival of guests.
The house stands in just under an acre of gardens and grounds, surrounded by some magnificent oak trees that were once part of the Stoneleigh estate. In the past seven years, its present owners have refurbished and extended the picturesque stone building, adding a new kitchen wing and opening up the interior to create substantial entertaining spaces radiating off the kitchen/breakfast room at the heart of the house. Principal rooms include a drawing room, a dining/family room, four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The stone gate house, which catches the late afternoon sun, provides an excellent alfresco dining area, the agents say.
For the past eight years, the car most likely to grace the forecourt of imposing Brook House at Claverley, Shropshire, has been the latest Range Rover: the owner of the property buys a new one every year. Now, he’s changing houses, too, and Brook House is on the market through Andrew Grant (01905 734735) and Savills (01952 239500) at a racy new guide price of £2.95m.
Set in some 48 acres of formal gardens, parkland, pasture and woodland surrounded by unspoilt countryside, Brook House is an impressive Arts-and-Crafts-style mansion, built in 1937 for the Gibbons family, well-known lock and window merchants of Wolverhampton, nine miles away. Although very much a proper country house, with its private parkland setting, staff cottage, stable block and outbuildings, helicopter and hangar, and garaging for umpteen cars, the property is perfectly placed for easy commuting to major West Midlands business centres such as Birmingham, Bridgnorth, Kidderminster and Telford.
The main house has a generous 7,780sq ft of living accommo-dation grouped around a central courtyard, including four reception rooms, eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a new orangery.
It was love at first sight for the owner of historic, Grade II-listed Acton Manor, near Ombersley, north Worcester-shire, an area that owes its popularity to its excellent choice of schools and convenient location within easy reach of Worcester, seven miles to the south, and Birmingham, 24 miles to the north-east. Now, 42 years later, the family is moving on, and the classic timber-framed manor house is for sale through Knight Frank (01905 723438) at a guide price of £975,000.
Acton Manor, which dates from 1580, was restored in the mid 1900s, and has since been extensively refurbished by its present owners. There is a wonderfully traditional feel about the house, which has lovely open fireplaces, flagstone floors, solid-oak doors, exposed timbers and beams and leaded-glass windows. But it also offers modern creature comforts such as the efficient ground-source heating system, fitted in 2008.
The driveway sweeps to the front of the manor, where a step back in time leads through solid-oak doors to a heavily beamed dining hall with a large inglenook fireplace. At the far end of the hall, a flagstone floor leads through to the drawing room that overlooks the gardens on three sides; elm flooring leads off the rear hall and through to the sitting room. A large kitchen/breakfast room has polished black-granite work surfaces and fitted cupboards of natural oak. There are five first-floor bedrooms and three bathrooms, with a large attic providing useful storage space.
The manor’s 4.7 acres enclose an important range of outbuildings, including a large coach house and a traditional barn (both with potential for conversion) and three brick stables served by paddocks.
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