Many of England’s great artists have been inspired by the mere fact of living among ancient walls, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Sometimes, however, the artist expends so much time and energy maintaining his ancient walls and beautiful garden that creative endeavour falls off the agenda.
Few painters can boast an artistic pedigree as distinguished as that of Richard Constable, the owner of Grade II-listed Courtfield in Norton sub Hamdon, Somerset. His great-great-grandfather was John Constable, and his mother’s family were all regular exhibitors at Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Academy.
In March 1977, Mr Constable bought Courtfield, with its two acres of lawns, fine trees, walled kitchen-garden, well-stocked herbaceous borders, tennis-court and paddock (the latter ‘a bit overgrown, but it attracts the butterflies’). The rambling Ham stone main house – originally Georgian, with a Victorian extension, has four main reception rooms, a conservatory, a studio, two kitchens, six/seven bedrooms and three bathrooms. Last year, Courtfield welcomed no fewer than 360 bed-and-breakfast guests between April and October.
‘It all takes up too much time when I am supposed to be painting,’ Mr Constable says. So he and his wife (‘a lapsed violinist’) are off to rediscover their creative souls, and Courtfield is on the market through Humberts (01935 477277) at a guide price of £1.1 million.