Country houses for sale

Elizabethan splendour come head-to-head with a pool and cinema room at this sprawling and grand country house in East Anglia

Intricate plasterwork ceilings, leaded windows and wood-panelled rooms meet all mod cons at Westwood Park, as Penny Churchill explains.

Grade II*-listed Westwood Park at Great Horkesley, four miles north of Colchester, is a ruin-to-riches story that has seen the transformation of a rundown former care home and wedding venue into an impressive, 23,760sq ft, country house.

For sale through Tim Phillips of Savills at a guide price of £6.5m, Westwood Park stands in 52 acres of historic formal gardens and parkland, within the lovely Stour Valley immortalised in the paintings of John Constable.

Today comprising a grand, panelled reception hall, six reception rooms, a cinema, gym, two kitchens and various utilities on the ground floor, with the principal bedroom suite, three further bedrooms, three bathrooms and a games room on the first floor.

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There is a further five-bedroom apartment on the second floor. Other parts of the house have been reconfigured as separate houses or apartments, with a range of offices and cottages in the grounds available to let on short-term rentals that provide a useful income.

According to British History Online, the Westwood Park estate was built up around the villages of Great and Little Horkesley by one William Lynne in the course of the 17th century — the inscription on a rain-head dates the original house to 1692.

It remained in his family until the late 18th century and was sold several times in the 1800s, lastly by William MacAndrew, who sold it in 1906 to W. J. M Hill, who rebuilt the house in its original Elizabethan style in 1908. It was later owned by C. H. Brocklebank before being acquired by R. J. L. Ogilby in 1937.

Plasterwork ceilings, leaded windows and wood-panelled walls give the Elizabethan feel.

In its Victorian heyday, the parkland surrounding Westwood Park covered 65 acres, with a further nine acres of gardens and pleasure grounds; the north and south lodges, designed by Raymond Erith to match the house, were rebuilt by Ogilby between 1938 and 1940. Following his death, the mansion was bought by Essex County Council as a care home, which eventually closed in 1987. The house was then sold once more, first as offices and then to a firm of developers, which collapsed when it failed to gain approval for a leisure development at Horkesley Park.

The house and grounds were in a sorry state when, in 2015, the present owner bought Westwood Park and embarked on a massive renovation of the house and its secondary buildings, thereby restoring it to its original use as a private family home.

Since then, he has painstakingly restored the Elizabethan interior, while adding modern touches such as the gym and cinema room.

Westwood Park is for sale via Savills at £6.5 million —see more details and pictures.

Great Horkesley: What you need to know

Location; 4 miles north of Colchester, and just over 70 miles from central London — and it’s very much commutable, especially on a hybrid working pattern. Trains from Colchester get to Liverpool Street Station inside an hour. The main A12 is within a couple of miles drive.

Atmosphere: Westwood Park is a fair way outside the main village, but that’s no bad thing since it sits on the main A134 heading north from Colchester, and the town’s urban spread heads out this way — there has been a fair bit of development recently as well. The further north you get, that sprawl thins out more and more, and the more serene Dedham Vale AONB atmosphere begins.

Things to do: There’s a local pub, shop and cricket club and plenty of open space. There are two golf clubs nearby, and if you’re a football fan then the Colchester United stadium is on this side of the town.

Schools: The village primary school, Bishop William Ward, is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted. Just to the north in Nayland is the well-regarded Littlegarth School, and independent prep school taking children from 2-11.

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