The prospects for the UK housing market have much improved in the past few months and activity has accelerated this year as consumer confidence has grown. London remains the star attraction, but country-house prices have now stabilised and some local markets are expanding, particularly in commuter areas.
Recent research by Savills shows that locations such as Cambridge, Oxford, Winchester and Bishop’s Stortford have now exceeded marketpeak values, and some of England’s most sought-after areas, such as the Cotswolds, have shown some small price increases.
This more robust outlook may well lure more buyers out of London, especially as the very attractive value gap between the capital and the regions, which Savills deem to be the widest ever, means you can get a lot more house for your money. To appreciate just how vast the gap is, you only have to look at what £2 million will buy across Britain.
Gloucestershire £1.95 million
Glebe Farm, Saintbury 5,856sq ft excluding outbuildings, four bedrooms, cottage, 15 acres, Hayman-Joyce (01386 858510)
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Set at the edge of Saintbury, four miles from Chipping Campden, this Cotswolds stone farmhouse enjoys long views across the countryside to the Malvern Hills. The interiors are full of interesting details, from the Juliet balcony in the master bedroom to the vaulted ceiling and stone fireplace in the family room. The ground-floor rooms open onto the lovely gardens and an inner courtyard houses a heated swimming pool.
Devon £2 million
This Grade I-listed house affords farreaching views across its own mature parkland to the hills beyond Exeter. Built in the 18th century, it has a dramatic dog-leg staircase in the central hall.
Oxfordshire £1.95 million
The Old Wharf, Shillingford 4,829sq ft, six bedrooms, river frontage, 2.7 acres, Knight Frank (01865 790077)
Grade II-listed The Old Wharf sits in mature grounds just off the Thames. The interiors make the most of the setting, especially the vaulted master bedroom, which looks out over the gardens to the river. All the rooms have special details, and there is also a selfcontained annexe.
Hampshire £1.925 million
Ciddy Hall, Liss 6,150sq ft excluding outbuildings, seven bedrooms, cottages, 3.7 acres, Chesterton Humberts (020-7594 4746)
Ciddy Hall stands in luxuriant grounds just outside the village of Liss. Once a medieval hall house, it still retains a strong period charm, with exposed timbers, flagstone floors, open fireplaces and hand-carved panelling in the study and drawing room.
Powys £1.95 million
Llanerchydol Hall, Welshpool 13,974sq ft excluding store, 13 bedrooms, apartment, 73 acres , Savills (01952 239500)
Originally dating from 1776, Grade II*- listed Llanerchydol Hall was rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style in 1820, when it gained romantic turrets and castellations.
The Pugh family, who owned it at the time, employed John Repton to landscape the grounds. He designed a Japanese water garden and parterre, as well as planting many of the trees that still grace the property today. Both gardens and house have retained much of the original atmosphere, although the house has been split into two more manageable parts -the lavish East Wing and the more informal West Wing. The grounds extend to 73 acres, of which 61 are parkland
Aberdeenshire £2 million
Cairness House, Lonmay 32,626sq ft, seven bedrooms, flat, 18th-century ice house, 16 acres , Knight Frank (0131-222 9600)
Two sphinxes guard the entrance to Cairness House, hinting at the grandeur of the building beyond. A long drive leads to the perfect, A-listed house, a masterpiece of Georgian scale and proportion. Behind the entrance porch, reminiscent of a Greek temple, lies a sequence of elegant reception rooms full of Classical references-there is an Egyptian room, probably the earliest in Britain, an Etruscan library, and a frieze copied from a Temple of Apollo in the drawing room. Upstairs, the bedrooms are beautifully decorated with attention to period detail, and many have en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths. The windows frame the property’s lush gardens and the rolling countryside beyond.
London £2 million
30, Hornton Street, Kensington, W8 1,548 sq ft, three bedrooms, study, communal gardens , Strutt & Parker (020-7938 3666)
This pretty maisonette occupies the raised ground and lower-ground floor of a Grade II-listed property just off Kensington High Street. The bright drawing room is great for entertaining and the property comes with access to luxuriant communal gardens.
Suffolk £2 million
Babergh Hall, Great Waldingfield 7,169sq ft, seven bedrooms, secondary accommodation, 26.7 acres , Carter Jonas (01787 882881)
Grade II*-listed Babergh Hall sits in magnificent parkland at the end of a long private drive at the edge of the village. Built at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, it exudes Classical elegance. The door, flanked by two
Ionic columns, opens onto airy interiors with full-height sash windows and some fine fireplaces. Off the main house, and with direct access from it, is the ancillary ‘cottage’, which has three bedrooms. Outside, the grounds comprise gardens, paddocks and woodland, and house a pool, stable block and manège.
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