Country houses for sale

A gorgeous Shropshire country house whose owner is heading back to town

Downsizing used to mean moving out to a village – these days, the opposite is often true, as the sale of Leaton Lodge near Shrewsbury demonstrates.

In times gone by, the decision to downsize usually meant a move to the country. These days, the closures of village shops, post offices and other amenities has resulted in many over 65s – especially those living on their own – moving back to a town or city.

This has been the case in Shropshire, says Belinda Hutchinson-Smith of Strutt & Parker, where towns such as Shrewsbury and Ludlow have seen an influx of former country-house owners in recent years.

Mrs Hutchinson-Smith is handling the sale, at a guide price of £1.1m, of the substantial, six-bedroom Leaton Lodge, five miles from Shrewsbury, which sits in some 2.2 acres of glorious, part-wooded gardens and grounds, surrounded by unspoilt Shropshire countryside.

With origins as a 17th century coaching inn, Leaton Lodge has organically grown over the years to become a modern, comfortable and practical family living space along with elegant reception rooms for larger scale entertaining.

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The kitchen is particularly beautiful, having been recently extended and fitted with bespoke cabinets by Rickman Furniture and Fine Joinery, with granite tops, curved cupboards and an Aga.

It extends into a pretty dining and sitting area from where French windows open to a paved terrace, while an adjoining sitting room has a fireplace housing a wood burning stove.

Having lived at Leaton Lodge for more than 20 years, its owner, Mrs Mary Walsh, now in her seventies, finds the prospect of dealing with 20 years’ worth of accumulated clutter ‘absolutely terrifying’ – deal with it she will have to, however, since the house is now under offer.

Mrs Walsh says that she will be especially sad to leave the beautiful garden she has created during her tenure, which has been a source of inspiration during her years of working with disadvantaged children.

Although it would have been much easier to ‘put off the evil day’, she’s looking forward to moving to the town house she’s already bought in Shrewsbury, where she can still be involved at the heart of things.

‘After all, out in the country, people don’t tend to just pop in, the way they do in town,’ she says.