Country houses for sale

‘An oasis surrounded by countryside’ for sale in the heart of the Cotswolds

With 30 acres of gardens and grounds and 9,500sq ft of living space, Purton House in Church End is a family home that spans the generations.

On the market for the first time in almost 50 years is an imposing Georgian home in the form of Purton House, with 30 acres of land at Church End, Purton, on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire border. Selling agent Charles Elsmore-Wickens of Savills in Oxford quotes a guide price of £2.75 million for the much-loved home of the Barkers, which sits 14 miles south of Cirencester and five miles west of Swindon, and has been a much-loved family home for half a century.

An excellent balcony, from which to survey the landscape.

There has been a house of importance on the site since medieval times, when Purton was part of the vast land holdings of Malmesbury Abbey, much of which was leased to wealthy tenants. Church End stands on a limestone ridge, which provided a ready supply of good building stone and, for centuries, the rent from a substantial house called Chamberlains (later Purton House) funded the office of the abbey’s chamberlain.

There are farmhouse kitchens, and then there are farmhouse kitchens.

Following the Dissolution in 1539, the Crown granted the manor of Purton to Sir Edmund Bridges, later 2nd Lord Chandos, who rebuilt the manor house and, in 1669, sold Chamberlains and its surrounding land to Francis Goddard. Goddard was succeeded there by his sons, Edward and Anthony, and his grandson, Richard, whose only daughter married Capt Robert Wilsonn RN. The Goddards modernised the house, laid out the grounds and created an ornamental lake from the medieval fish ponds. In 1824, the Wilsonns’ eldest daughter, Sarah, married Richard Miles, who bought Purton House from his mother-in-law in 1829.

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Between 1829 and his death in 1839, Richard Miles replaced the Goddards’ old house with the present symmetrical, three-bay Purton House, which was faced with the local ashlar, but retained parts of the earlier interior. He created a new western entrance and a central porch and added new offices, a coach house and stables. The coach house, which has its own entrance, is now in separate ownership.

The dining room, which features magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of the home’s pristine setting.

In 1840, Sarah Miles sold Purton House with its grounds and additional land to a cousin, Horatio Nelson Goddard, who, three years later, sold the estate to Maj Mervyn Prower, the son of the vicar of Purton. In 1878, the Prower family sold the estate to Sir Charles Brooke, 2nd Rajah of Sarawak, who had married a Wiltshire bride. Unfortunately, the Ranee couldn’t abide the sound of the church bells, which in those days rang all day whenever a parishioner died, and the house was soon let to the Russell family, who eventually bought it in 1899. From 1931–76, Purton House was owned by the Wilson Fitzgerald family, who sold it to Mr and Mrs Barker, since when it has remained wonderfully unaltered, apart from essential maintenance and decoration.

Purton House sits centrally within its 30 acres, with uninterrupted views over its garden, lakes and land. The house offers 9,580sq ft of beautifully configured living space, including a central, light-filled hallway, three fine reception rooms, a snug, kitchen, conservatory, study, various domestic offices, cellars and store rooms, with eight bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor. The north wing, currently used as a self-contained one-bedroom annexe, could easily be reintegrated within the main house.

The stone cantilevered staircase, said to be one of the few examples remaining in the country.

Original architectural detail abounds. This includes large floor-to-ceiling sash windows with original shutters, panelled doors, decorative plasterwork, panelled walls and ceilings and cast-iron fireplaces with marble surrounds. The impressive stone cantilevered staircase is said to be one of few of its kind in the country.

Sisters Alice Edgcumbe-Rendle and Ibby Southerden recall growing up at Purton House alongside their siblings, Talia, Glenn, Rowie and James: ‘We loved the freedom of Purton House. To us, it was an oasis surrounded by countryside. We spent most of our time outside, either on ponies or splashing about in the lake — a lovely spot for cold-water swimming. As teenagers, we had some great parties in the cellars.

The lake within the grounds — ‘a lovely spot for cold-water swimming,’ according to previous residents.

‘Our parents ran the land as a small farm. We had two cows, which we milked every day, and we had our own organic vegetables. Our father had a couple of horses and we children had ponies. When we grew up, the house was filled with 23 grandchildren, all coming and going over the years. We were always fed, watered and entertained, no matter what time of the day or night one of us appeared. When our mother sadly died last year, we decided that the time had come for another family to make their own memories here.’

Purton House is for sale with Savills for £2.75 million. For more information and pictures, click here

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