After two years' hard work getting the place just right, the owners of this majestic old rectory in Buckinghamshire have been forced to move on – but their loss will be the new buyer's gain, as Penny Churchill explains.
These days, any young couple lucky enough to buy a former rectory or old vicarage as their ‘forever’ family home can expect to enjoy it for at least 20 years before needing to downsize. The really lucky ones can expect to live there for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes, however, things don’t quite work out that way.
This the owners of The Old Rectory, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire, discovered when they bought their dream home two years ago and immediately embarked on a total refurbishment of the house and grounds.
No sooner had the work been completed than they found themselves obliged to move back closer to London, hence last month’s launch onto the market of their pristine house, gardens and grounds, through Knight Frank, at a guide price of £2.95 million.
Set behind electric gates and approached along a sweeping gravel driveway, this grand, three-storey, gabled building stands on high ground within the picturesque Vale of Aylesbury, surrounded by almost five acres of gardens, grounds and wildflower meadow established by the previous long-term owners.
The present owners have upgraded the gardens and totally transformed the interior – now, a symphony in cool pastels and white – as well as restoring period features to the minutest detail and updating heating, lighting and electrical systems to the most exacting of contemporary standards. Unlike the owners of other former rectories, who prefer to restore as they go, the next custodians of this Victorian gem will only ever need to flick a switch or two.
The main house offers some 5,800sq ft of living space on three floors, including a spacious entrance hall, a sitting room and an elegant drawing room, with ornate coving and a bay window overlooking the garden, as well as a garden room with underfloor heating, a stylish dining room and a well-fitted kitchen/breakfast room.
The first floor houses the master suite and three double bedrooms, each with its own bath or shower room, with a split-level fifth bedroom that has its own bathroom and seating area on the second floor.
The former hayloft has been converted to four garage bays, with a comfortable, one-bedroom guest or staff apartment on the floor above.
The gardens – a well-established mix of mature flowerbeds, fine specimen trees and manicured lawns, with a striking ‘canal’ water feature and a tennis court – have been thoughtfully designed to make the most of the panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and were a popular venue for charity events under the previous owners.
Historically the chapel of Cuddington – a small rural parish bounded to the north by the River Thame and to the south by its tributary the Dad Brook – was held by the Priory of St Andrew, Rochester, until its dissolution in 1540. Subsequently, the living of the vicarage of Cuddington, with that of nearby Haddenham, was granted by Henry VIII to the Dean and Chapter of Rochester.
The present former rectory, which is unlisted, was built in 1857 on land to the east of the village. It was owned by the Church until 1972, serving as the vicarage for the 12th-century Church of St Nicholas which stands at the western end of the village and was more or less rebuilt in 1857.
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