A flurry of desirable historic properties has fuelled a lively spring for the county
The sale of one of Hampshire’s country houses, the secluded, Grade II-listed Cheriton House at Cheriton, near Alresford, has ‘set the benchmark for what a classic country house in the county should be trading at in the current market,’ says selling agent George Clarendon of Knight Frank in Winchester.
The handsome Georgian house, built around an earlier farmhouse in the late 1700s and set in 20 lush acres of gardens and parkland, was launched in Country Life (April 2, 2014) at a guide price of £5.5 million, and found a Hampshire-based purchaser within a matter of weeks, with competition from both expatriate British and London buyers.
‘Given the confusing reports on the state of the UK housing market currently circulating in the national media, this sale is encouraging both for buyers and vendors. Better still, Cheriton has been bought by a charming family, to the delight of its previous owners, who had lived there for 45 years and are downsizing to a smaller house in the village,’ adds Mr Clarendon.
One swallow does not a summer make, but the message was reinforced the following week, when the same agents launched another Hampshire gem, Dummer House at Dummer, six miles south-west of the commuter hub of Basingstoke, at a guide price of £5m. Painstakingly rescued by its American owners, who bought it in 2000, Dummer House also dates from the late 1700s and, like Cheriton House, was regularly visited by the Prince Regent during his pursuit both of the stags of the Hampshire Hunt and the celebrated Mrs Fitzherbert, whose brother lived nearby.
Dummer House also sold within a few weeks and Knight Frank also found buyers for Appleshaw Manor, near Andover (launched the same week as Dummer House at a guide price of £3.65m) and The Old School House at Highclere, which needed renovation and came to the market at £4.25m. A handful of private sales provided the icing on the cake.
‘With the cream of this year’s Hampshire houses either sold or in the process of selling, the market has started to wind down with the approach of the school holidays. But there are still a few interesting houses out there for buyers prepared to take a long-term view,’ says Nick Ashe of buying agents Property Vision.
You can hear a pin drop at The Old Manor, Ellisfield, five miles from Basingstoke, says Ed Cunningham of Knight Frank (020-7861 1080) who is selling the historic manor house, with 78 acres of gardens, farmland and woodland on the edge of the Candover Valley, on behalf of the de Ferranti family trust. A guide price of £5.75m is quoted for the Grade II*-listed manor, which nestles within the village conservation area and now needs updating throughout.
At the time of the Domesday survey, the manor was part of the Bishop of Bayeux’s estate. In 1496, it was held by one of Henry VIII’s favourites, Sir William Sandys, who later became Lord Chamberlain and was created Baron Sandys. In 1657, the 5th Lord Sandys-whose father, the Royalist Col Henry Sandys, was fatally wounded at the Battle of Cheriton in 1644-sold the manor, which was later divided before being re-formed by the Earls of Portsmouth in the late 18th century. The present manor house dates from the late 17th century, with 18thand early-20th-century additions.
The house has accommodation on three floors, including a large entrance hall, four main reception rooms, a garden room, a kitchen/ breakfast room, eight bedrooms and four bathrooms. There is a two-bedroom gardener’s cottage in the grounds, along with a Grade II-listed timber-framed barn, a Grade II-listed stable block and a partly converted brick-built barn.
Three miles from Alton, on the northern edge of the South Downs National Park, lies the picturesque village of Bentworth, voted last year’s Hampshire and Isle of Wight Village of the Year. Bentworth dates from Saxon times and boasts several important manor houses, including Bentworth Hall and Gaston Grange-the latter built in 1890 by Col Gordon Gordon-Ives, who inherited the Bentworth Hall estate on his mother’s death in 1897, but continued to live at the Grange until his own death 10 years later.
Knight Frank (01256 350600) quote a guide price of £11m for Gaston Grange, which comes with 198 acres of formal gardens, paddocks, woodland and farmland. The house has been painstakingly modernised by its current young owners, who had envisaged a lengthy occupation, but now need to change direction.
The Grange stands at the end of a long tree-lined drive and has 9,370sq ft of relaxed living space, including entrance and reception halls, three reception rooms, a kitchen/ breakfast room and a wet bar. The vast master suite comes with ‘his’ shower and ‘her’ bathroom at either end; there are six further bedrooms, four bath/shower rooms and a one-bedroom staff flat. Sports facilities include stabling, a games room, a swimming pool and a manège.
* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter