Ripple Court, a Georgian masterpiece reputedly built by the great Sir John Soane, has come to the market near Deal, in Kent — but buyers will have to go in with eyes open, says Penny Churchill.
Described as ‘a sleeping beauty’ by selling agent Simon Backhouse, of Strutt & Parker in Canterbury, Grade II*-listed Ripple Court, three miles from the quaint coastal town of Deal, is rightly regarded as one of east Kent’s most important country houses.
Owned by the same family for the past 60 years and ‘now in need of sensitive updating’, it stands in 8.6 acres of wonderfully private gardens and grounds, screened on three sides by a shelter-belt of mature woodland. The agents quote a guide price of £2.75 million.
Built between 1796 and 1802 on the site of an earlier, 16th-century Ripple Court for Col John Baker Sladen, the classic late-Georgian house was reputedly designed by Sir John Soane.
Although no paper trail exists to this effect, its Historic England listing highlights the front façade and many details of the house and plan as being ‘reminiscent of Sir John Soane, normally the least copied of Neo-Classical architects’. Mr Backhouse also points to the distinctive central chimney-stack as being ‘typically Soane’.
Unusually for this part of Kent, the house is built of white brick with ashlar and Coade stone dressings, the focal point of its elegant front façade a pedimented doorcase framed by tall sash windows.
In 1887, it was extended to the rear by the pioneering Scottish Arts-and-Crafts architect James MacLaren, who added secondary accommodation, garaging and an octagonal tower with a domed roof.
In about 1930, the verandah that originally ran down the entire side of the house was replaced by the single-storey, bow-fronted drawing room, which has three tall windows overlooking the gardens.
Ripple Court offers more than 9,000sq ft of living space on three floors, including a reception hall, three principal reception rooms, two kitchens, a breakfast room, an office, seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, a nursery and a three-bedroom first-floor flat.
Included in the sale are the 17th-century, four-bedroom Old Farm House, listed Grade II, and two sets of listed outbuildings, including a magnificent, 130ft-long Kentish barn with potential for conversion.
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