Country houses for sale

We Do Give a Damn About Charlestown

By the end of 2004, 6% of all property bought abroad by Britons was in the US, accor-ding to the Office of National Statistics. South Carolina?s Lowcountry, situated at the state?s southernmost tip bordering Georgia and the Atlantic Ocean may not be the best known region to UK buyers, but it offers some of the most stunning property currently available on the American market. It is an area famous for its lighthouses, pristine beaches and salt marshes echoing with the call of osprey and herons. Rolling tracts of land are covered in ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss. The temperate climate and fiercely-guarded natural beauty make this a paradise for boating, fishing, hunting, golf, tennis, and more.

The gateway to the Lowcountry is historic Charleston, one of the oldest cities in the US and the setting for Margaret Mitchell?s Gone with the Wind, the enduringly popular Civil War novel that went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time. With a population of only 104,000, Charleston still boasts museums, a theatre company, a symphony, fine dining and a different festival almost every weekend of the year. The high- light in summer is the internationally acclaimed Spoleto Festival?called ?a wildly adventurous season of opera? by The New York Times?which celebrates theatre, music, dance, and the visual arts.

?Yet for all its sophistication, Charleston has the charm of a small town,? says Helen Lyles Geer, broker-in-charge of William Means Real Estate. ?The cobblestone streets and the patina on the preserved buildings give you the sense that parts of the city have remained untouched over time ?much like many European cities.?

Just outside of Charleston, Medway Plantation is an elegant slice of colonial history updated to provide the utmost in country comfort. Often referred to as the ?Queen of Southern Plantations?, Medway dates back to 1686 and hosted legendary American families such as the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, du Ponts, Guggenheims, and Roosevelts. The three-storey main residence has a spacious floor plan with many exquisite details and there are also four guest cottages, an outdoor pool and pool house, an indoor exercise pool, and stables.

The 6,700 acres encompass 13 lakes, wetlands, pine forests, cypress, tupelo swamps and bottomland hardwood forests, and these provide habitats for deer, turkey, quail, and waterfowl. Fifty miles of roads meander through the estate.

William Means Real Estate, an exclusive affiliate of Christie?s Great Estates, is offering Medway Plantation for US$25 million. Enquiries to Robert H. Hortman, (00 1 843 577 6651).

Only a few hours drive from anywhere in the Lowcountry is the Atlantic coastline. ?The beaches are truly world class,? says Cora Bett Thomas, president and CEO of Cora Bett Thomas Realty of South Carolina. This is especially true of Hilton Head Island. ?Every day, holidaymakers come from across the US and round the world to experience the island?s seductive white sand beaches and alluring surf,? Mrs Thomas enthuses. ?The opportunity to live in a beach-front home on Hilton Head, and to see the sun rise each morning over the ocean is, quite literally, a taste of heaven on earth.?

Stella Del Mare is the most luxurious enclave on Hilton Head Island. Designed to recreate the grandeur of Old World Italy, the development?s entrance is accented with Mediterranean gardens, elaborate stone fountains, travertine marble, and Venetian glass.

Toscana Centro, one of Stella Del Mare?s five villa estates, combines 6,000sq ft of exquisite living space with sprawling views of the Atlantic. In addition to five bedrooms and five bathrooms, the residence features a fully equipped media room and theatre, a state-of-the-art kitchen, an exercise room, elevator and two-car garage. The 2,000sq ft of alfresco living space includes a dramatic oceanside pool and spa.

Residents of the enclave automatically become members of the Renaissance Club, the island?s ultimate full-service amenity programme with an around-the-clock concierge staff and access to the area?s best golf clubs, tennis facilities, equestrian centres, yacht clubs, and day spas.

Toscana Centro is offered at $6.25 million by Cora Bett Thomas of Cora Bett Thomas Realty, an exclusive affiliate of Christie?s Great Estates (00 1 912 233 6000).