From classic manors on serene estates to seaside vistas, transform your fantasies into reality.
What makes a classic British estate? For Will Whittaker of Strutt & Parker (020– 7629 7282), the majestic Hall Place estate (Fig 1), in the Medway Valley at Leigh, five miles west of Tonbridge, Kent, ‘ticks all the boxes’. For sale for the first time in 145 years, at a guide price of £15 million, its attributes include ‘a handsome principal house, with ancillary buildings including beautiful ornate gate lodges, surrounded on all sides by prestigious, Grade II*-listed 19th-century gardens designed by Lanning Roper, an impressive lake and a former deer park.’
He adds: ‘The main house overlooks the pretty village that, in its prime, would have accommodated all the estate staff. The setting is also exceptional, extending to more than 1,000 acres within a ring fence, and providing a remarkable degree of seclusion and privacy for a part of Kent that is so readily accessible, only 30 miles from London.’
The Hall Place estate was considerably smaller when textile industrialist Samuel Morley bought it for £42,000 in 1870. He judged the existing grand Elizabethan house to be poorly built and in need of substantial modernisation and commissioned the eminent country-house architect George Devey to design the present, romantic, Tudor-style Victorian mansion in 1871. On Morley’s death in 1886, the estate passed to his son, Samuel Hope-Morley (later Lord Hollenden), who expanded it with the purchase of Leigh Park Farm and Prices Farm from the nearby Penshurst estate.
In 1940, a serious chimney fire at Hall Place badly damaged part of the main house. This section was later demolished and turned into a ‘house garden’, but could be reintegrated into the main building, the agents suggest. Although little used by the family of late, rambling, 18,500sq ft Hall Place has some impressive rooms and spaces, although it now needs repair and modernisation.
Hall Place is being sold as a whole, or in five lots, with the main house and its ancillary buildings—including the cobbled stable courtyard, its two cottages, the estate office, the two gate lodges and 277 acres of gardens, lake, parkland and woods— being offered at £8m.
A guide price of £4.9m is quoted for Leigh Park Farm and Price’s Farm, a productive, 500-acre dairy operation let under a full repairing Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancy. Two further parcels of farmland are on offer at £750,000 each, with £600,000 the asking price for The Kennels, an idyllic, two-bedroom, let cottage set in almost two acres of land in the centre of the estate.
In total contrast, Crispin Holborow of Savills (020–7409 3780) quotes a guide price of ‘excess £17m’ for the ultimate ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ eco-friendly Cotswold estate: the picturesque, 366-acre Alderley Farm (Fig 2) near Wotton-under-Edge, five miles from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, within the Cotswolds AONB. The focal point of the estate is an imposing, 14,912sq ft, Queen Anne-style main house designed around an existing courtyard by leading Cotswold architect Yiangou and completed in 2010.
Approached along a private driveway, which meanders through the unspoilt parkland, the house nestles in the centre of its own secluded valley. Built in the Classical style, it has four main reception rooms, a large family kitchen, seven bedrooms (five with en-suite bathrooms), an entertainment barn, a gym complex, an indoor swimming pool, stables and garaging. The splendid walled garden was part of the original Yiangou Architects vision; the striking waterfall and pond are a bespoke design by Cheltenham-based Aquapic.
Once a working dairy farm, Alderley Farm has been transformed in the last 13 years by successive owners, who have invested heavily in this Cotswold haven of harmony and utopia. With a ground-source heat pump serving the principal house and courtyard, solar panels on the farm buildings generating electricity, a private water supply from three boreholes and the estate’s own herd of beef cattle providing meat for the table, Alderley Farm is the very model of a self-sufficient, 21st-century estate.
If your dream is a Georgian manor in a tranquil historic setting, this week sees the launch onto the market of New Court (Fig 4) at Lugwardine, Herefordshire, three miles east of Hereford, at a guide price of £2.75m through Savills in Telford (01952 239500) and Hereford-based Jackson Property (01432 344779). For Tony Morris-Eyton of Savills, New Court, set in 27 acres of gardens and parkland overlooking the glorious Wye Valley, is ‘the quintessential English country home, a Grade II*-listed 18th-century house with three principal façades, set in its own private grounds at the end of a long drive on the edge of the village’.
The manor of Lugwardine dates from the Norman Conquest. In the 13th century, it was gifted to the notorious Simon de Montfort and, following his death at the Battle of Evesham, passed to Lord Chandos and, by descent, through Lord Beauchamp to the Rede family. In a deed of 1572, William Rede refers to ‘my mansion at New Court’ and it was almost certainly he who built the magnificent East Wing.
According to its listing, the present house is 18th century, ‘possibly with an earlier core’ (although generally recognised as being of Tudor origin), remodelled in the Gothic style in 1809 by Henry Seward, a pupil of Sir John Soane. The present owners have retained New Court’s original Georgian interior, notably its fine principal rooms and grand entrance hall with its ornate Rococo plaster ceiling from about 1750. The house, which can sleep and seat 24 guests, has five reception rooms, three kitchens, extensive wine cellars, 11 bedrooms, nine bathrooms and five cottages arranged around a rear courtyard.
But, if the ultimate coastal retreat does it for you, then this week’s Country Life highlights the launch onto the market of one of the most spectacular coastal houses ever built in Britain. For sale through Knight Frank (01392 423111) at a guide price of £2.95m, idyllic Grade II- listed Chapel Point House (Fig 3) at Portmellon, near Mevagissey, Cornwall, was the first of a group of stone houses designed and built by the Arts- and-Crafts architect John Campbell for his own use in 1934–39.
Writing in Country Life (October 19 and 26, 1945), Christopher Hussey applauds Mr Campbell’s successful bid to show that building smaller houses in traditional materials was still economically viable, and remarks ‘how attractive seaside buildings in Cornwall can be’.
The message may have resonated with the current owners of Chapel Point, who bought it some 25 years ago, and have lovingly maintained and improved it, buying in surrounding land to secure its privacy. ‘This house is going to knock people’s socks off,’ predicts an exuberant James Killop of Knight Frank, pointing out the unique selling points of this ‘exceptionally special and rare waterfront property occupying a true coastal location with panoramic views from east to west, and a 4,000sq ft, five-bedroom house with its own sandy beach and boathouse, a second slipway and boathouse and about nine acres of permanent pasture, less than two miles from the popular fishing village of Mevagissey’.