A 16th century farmhouse in Kent where the owners have turned their field into a vineyard has come up for sale. Penny Churchill takes a look.
Ulley Farmhouse in the village of Kennington, just outside Ashford, has been a home for 16 years to Chris and Rachel Newman. Now that their daughters have left home, they want to downsize from their pretty, Grade II-listed, Kentish farmhouse, hence its recent launch onto the market through Savills at a guide price of £1.35m — a price which includes a house, land and even a vineyard.
In addition to the vineyard, the charming miniature estate, surrounded on all sides by farmland, has at its heart a 3,549sq ft, five-bedroom, main house set in pretty grounds.
There’s also a secret garden and a kitchen garden, a former stable block, garaging, storage and a tennis court. And, of course, that vineyard.
It’s the idea of making your own wine which will fire the imaginations of prospective buyers — though as ever, the reality is always a little different from romantic notions.
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‘With all the rain we’ve had, it’s been a challenging year for growers in Kent,’ says Rachel, as she returns to the house after a day picking grapes. She and her veterinary surgeon husband established their vineyard on returning to their native county in 2003.
The Newmans’ original plan on buying the 5¾-acre farm, which was once part of the Eastwell Park estate, was to use the land for their daughters’ ponies and, when that phase had passed, they decided to fulfil a long-held dream and plant the vineyard.
‘We have learnt by trial and error since we planted the first of about 3,000 vines in 2009, but finally, our small vineyard is breaking even,’ she adds.
‘We now produce some 3,500 bottles of sparkling rosé and 1,000 bottles of still, which is fermented and bottled in the former stables and sold through farmers’ markets.’
Houses with their own budding lifestyle businesses are always intriguing — and given Ashford’s hi-speed road and rail links to London, Ulley Farmhouse sounds like an enticing prospect for a family looking to start a new life out of the capital.
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