Country houses for sale

Evelyn Waugh’s former house, dubbed ‘one of the most beautiful houses in Gloucestershire’, sold at auction

Piers Court, the house where Evelyn Waugh wrote his nostalgic masterpiece Brideshead Revisited, comes to the market.

Georgian, Grade II*-listed Piers Court at Stinchcombe is ‘one of the most beautiful houses in Gloucestershire’ in the words of Rupert Sturgis of Knight Frank, who were selling the house for the second time in just a few years. In 2018 it went up for sale at a guide price of £3 million, eventually selling a year later at £2.9m.

Now, following some reported ups-and-downs (well, mostly downs) under the current ownership, this magnificent Cotswold manor has been sold again — this time at £.16 million via Allsops auctioneers.

The sale took place on December 15 ‘on the instruction of the joint fixed charged receiver’, according to its listing; though there is a bit of a fly in the ointment in the form of sitting tenants. Tenants who — again, according to the listing — have been paying just £250 a year, though they have been given notice to leave: ‘The property is occupied under a Common Law Tenancy at a rent of £250 per annum. A Notice To Quit was served on the occupant on 19th August 2022 and a copy of such Notice was affixed to the property gate on 22nd August 2022.’

The listing goes on to add a warning which should be taken seriously: ‘Prospective purchasers should take their own legal advice regarding this and will be deemed to bid accordingly.’

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It seems a sad state of affairs for a famed house whose previous owners — who bought Piers Court in 2010 — had done much to enhance a place described by Pevsner as ‘dignified and elegant’, which, behind its classical 18th-century façade, caters for both formal entertaining and informal family living. The standard of fixtures and fittings is really something – as this picture of one of the bathrooms demonstrates.

Or at least, it did demonstrate in 2018; the tenants did not permit viewings ahead of the auction, and Knight Frank made it clear that all images on the listings are from that previous sale a few years ago.

Still, it seems as if somebody has been happy to take the risk of coming through the legal wrangling to buy a house whose interiors haven’t been seen publicly for over four years. Good luck to them — though there’s every chance they will end up the happy, proud owners of a genial, pleasantly rambling family house that has some 8,400sq ft of accommodation, including five reception rooms.

There is also a kitchen/breakfast room with a beautiful beamed ceiling, tiled floor and lovely rustic feel.

Upstairs there are eight bedrooms and six bathrooms – the master bedroom is pictured below – plus extensive attics and a one-bedroom staff wing.

Approached down a long drive lined with high beech hedges, Piers Court nestles in some 23 acres of gardens, parkland and pasture, with distant views over its land to the Welsh Hills and the Forest of Dean. Within the grounds are several outbuildings, including a mews and a Queen Anne coach house.

Used as a safe house for Royalists during the Civil War, it is probably best known as the home of the writer Evelyn Waugh from 1937 to 1956 – apart from during the war years when it was taken over by nuns.

It was here, in his beloved library (pictured below), that Waugh penned Brideshead Revisited, Men at Arms and Officers and Gentlemen.

Waugh moved on in part because he was apparently spooked at having been tracked down to Piers Court by a pair of Daily Express reporters. He sold up and moved to Combe Florey House, near Taunton, which coincidentally went up for sale recently. The writer lived there happily for the next 10 years until his death.

Piers Court was sold for £3.16m in December 2022 — see more details and pictures. Additional reporting by Penny Churchill.