Country houses for sale

A house for sale which produced one of Darwin’s fellow trailblazers in genetics

This former rectory was the birthplace of Thomas Laxton, plant breeder and correspondent of Charles Darwin.

A classic country house launched earlier this month by the Market Harborough office of Strutt & Parker is the beautifully renovated Old Rectory at Tinwell, near Stamford, Rutland, for which ‘offers over £2m’ are being sought. Historically owned by the surrounding Burghley estate, from whom the present owners purchased it some 16 years ago, The Old Rectory, listed Grade II, stands opposite Tinwell’s lovely All Saints Church, with its unusual saddleback roof, added in about 1350.

The former rectory was the birthplace of Thomas Laxton, who practised as a solicitor in Stamford before concentrating on his main interest, the hybridisation of plants; he’s probably best known for the development of the Laxton’s Superb and Laxton’s Fortune apples, the Royal Sovereign strawberry and the Thomas Laxton pea.

The work on peas in particular helped shape the world as we know it: Laxton shared a string of letters with Charles Darwin discussing his peas, and the ideas they discussed came to inform the great naturalist’s work. Several of his ideas even foreshadowed the work that Gregor Mendel was doing at the same time with peas across on the continent; Mendel’s work on peas went on to establish genetics as we know it, however, while Laxton went off in a different direction.

The 5,000sq ft house, which dates mainly from the early 19th century and incorporates an earlier service wing to the rear, is described by selling agent Edward Brassey as ‘not huge, but with no wasted space’— a claim borne out by the owners’ ingenuity in arranging the interior to provide flexible family living space, including three main reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, a playroom, six bedrooms (three with en-suite bathrooms) and a family bathroom.

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A building in the grounds has been converted into a one-bedroom cottage, which has proved to be a highly successful holiday let. Listed-building consent has been granted for a Vale Garden House conservatory on the rear terrace.

The Old Rectory comes with just under 1½ acres of immaculate gardens and grounds, the main body set to lawn with high stone walls on the boundary and divided by mature trees, borders and yew hedges. In the north-east corner is a grass tennis court and an old stone-and-wood pony stable, with its original loose box. A further 4.8 acres of paddock adjoining the garden boundary may be available to lease from the Burghley estate.

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