Country houses for sale

Views from the property desk

When I was little I loved reading Roger Hargreaves’ stories about Hippo, the hardworking hippopotamus, Mouse, the cheerful little mouse, and Potto, the spendthrift elephant.

I remember laughing about Potto’s unquenchable desire to buy everything his eyes set on, and Hippo’s attempts to turn the silly elephant into a responsible member of society-or, at the very least, curb his spending.

Fast forward thirty years, and I find myself worryingly closer to Potto than Hippo. I too have an unquenchable desire to buy-one that my Hippo-like husband tries to contain. Unlike Potto, though, I only ever want to buy houses.

I am irresistibly drawn to properties, particularly rambling old ones with lots of nooks and crannies. If I could, I would buy a house every day, probably more than once a day. As it is, I settle for writing about them. Writing, that is, and coveting (and, OK, also firing the occasional email to said husband suggesting that House This or Cottage That would make a beautiful addition to our property portfolio).

The latest object of my desire is a huge riverside home in St Margaret’s. Because I live practically next door to it, I see (and salivate over) it virtually every day.

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Gordon House, which is on the market with Knight Frank for a mere £15m (0 20 8939 2801), is a Grade II* listed mansion, whose interiors were part designed by Robert Adam. The drawing room, in particular, is a masterpiece of Adam’s intricate plaster work, which would wow any guest. Not that you would want to entertain there, though, when there is a gigantic ballroom built precisely for the purpose. But then the house, which has been sensitively modernised by Octagon, has more rooms than you can possibly want: eight bedrooms, a library and a family room, among others, not to mention a staff annexe and a chapel that would make a perfect studio for the artistically inclined.

What really draws me, though, is the watery panorama. Gordon House is set in 0.74 acres, with more than 80m of Thames frontage. The back rooms open onto the whiteness of swans and badling of ducks that populate the river, with Richmond Lock and Old Deer Park in the distance. Imagine waking up every day to the sounds of the birds, and the views of water rippling in the breeze.

Oh well. One day, maybe, it will all be mine. For the moment, I will content myself with the views from my windows, which open onto Gordon House. Which, you will admit, is better than nothing.

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