Delightful Woodside, near Frant, has not come to the market in decades and now awaits new owners and a new beginning.
Country houses that have been owned by successive generations of the same family usually have fascinating tales to tell: Woodside near Frant, East Sussex, is no exception.
For sale on the open market for the first time in 90 years, at a guide price of £5.5 million through Savills Country Department, Woodside is not only a grand Georgian house set in 35 acres of picturesque gardens and grounds, a rarity in this part of the world, but a grand Georgian house that is unlisted, which is even rarer.
Woodside’s imposing front façade and impressive lake is approached by a long tree-lined drive that bisects the land. The 12,000sq ft property is currently divided into principal and secondary houses in need of updating, but could easily be reunited with the unlocking of the traditional green baize doors.
The main house offers elegant accommodation including five ground-floor reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, various utilities, nine bedrooms, two dressing rooms and four bathrooms, with three reception rooms, six bedrooms and three bathrooms in the West Wing.
Picturesque secondary buildings include the Summer House, the Roundabout House, the Blue House, the Boat House and The Vinery; outbuildings include a huge coach house, garaging and workshops.
Originally called Delvideer, Woodside was built in 1832 for Capt George Lewis Minet, who died in 1837. The name probably relates to its proximity to what was once a vast medieval deer forest, now the ‘Great Wood’ on the neighbouring Abergavenny estate.
The property, which is in the High Weald AONB three miles south of Tunbridge Wells, was first advertised for sale in 1836, when it was described as ‘a very complete ferme ornée, surrounding a modern cottage residence, but recently finished, placed on the margin of a small lake, its banks embellished by plantations and varied walks… There are farm buildings of every description, bailiff’s and gardener’s cottages, and a handsome entrance lodge upon the Hastings Turnpike Road’.
The last time Woodside came onto the open market was in 1931, when it was bought by Sir Charles Stewart Addis, an influential international financier, who was a career banker with HSBC, a director of the Bank of England and vice-chairman of the Bank for International Settlements after the First World War.
In 1932, he extended the house into the West Wing and built a number of estate houses to accommodate his retinue of servants. When Sir Charles died, the house passed to his widow.
Meanwhile, his youngest son, Richard, the last of his 13 children, had married Gillian Dearmer, daughter of Percy Dearmer, Canon of Westminster, a hymn-writer and liturgist best-known for his Parson’s Handbook (1899).
Richard was serving as a lieutenant on HMS Laforey when his ship was torpedoed and sunk by a U-boat off the coast of Italy on March 30, 1944, less than a month after the birth of his son, David.
In 1950, Gillian married Michael Warr, a career diplomat who served in Bonn and was Consul-General in Istanbul. When Lady Addis died, Michael bought Woodside in 1951 with Richard’s older brothers, Sir John Addis, ambassador to China, and Sir William Addis, Deputy Commissioner General for Colonial Affairs in South-East Asia and later Governor of the Seychelles.
In those days, a head of mission could only return home every three years, so Sir William and his wife lived mainly overseas. The Warrs’ son, George, was born in 1951, and Woodside has been his home ever since. Their four children, including David Addis, were educated in England and spent their holidays at Woodside.
The Warrs’ son, George, was born in 1951, and Woodside has been his home ever since. Their four children, including David Addis, were educated in England and spent their holidays at Woodside.
For George Warr and his wife, Oenone, who bought the remaining shares in 1995, Woodside has been an ‘idyllic’ family home where their children have enjoyed the freedom and the privacy this special place offers.
The Warrs have now reluctantly decided to downsize to something smaller, putting Woodside on the market, but not before globe-trotting Warr and Addis families put their collective stamp on the Victorian gardens, which have many rare plants and shrubs, protected by grass paddocks and spinneys. They are really quite spectacular and, says Mrs Warr, ‘you can even ice-skate on the lake in winter’.
Frant: What you need to know
- Location: Frant has its own station, one stop down from Tunbridge Wells, on the line that serves serve London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
- Things to do: Plenty of choices, from cricket, football and bowling clubs in Frant to sailing, cycling and fishing at Bewl Water. Walking and riding routes are available in the Ashdown Forest and racing at Lingfield Park, Plumpton and Brighton. Opera is at Glyndebourne and polo at Cowdray Park. There also are several golf courses and private membership health spas in the area
- Schools: Frant has its own primary school, with nearby preparatory schools including Holmewood House in Langton Green and Rosehill and The Mead in Tunbridge Wells. There are community colleges in Wadhurst, Crowborough and Heathfield while independent senior schools in the area include Tonbridge for boys, Mayfield for girls, and co-ed options at Sevenoaks, Brighton and Eastbourne.Find more properties in the area.