Country houses for sale

The newest ‘Old Rectory’ in the world is up for sale, set in ancient woodland, with a cathedral-like pool and its own golf course

In the Weald where Surrey, Sussex and Kent come together, Penny Churchill takes a look at a fascinating house.

For more than 1,000 years, people have shaped the natural beauty of the High Weald, a medieval landscape of wooded rolling hills and scattered farmsteads spread over 564 square miles across the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

The ancient village of Horsted Keynes, six miles north-east of the commuter hub of Haywards Heath, stands in some 5,000 acres of heavily forested, mostly rural land, once part of the ancient forest of Anderida.

First mentioned in the Domesday Book as Horsted de Cahaignes, the village takes its name from Sir William de Cahaignes, a Norman knight who fought with William the Conqueror and was awarded land at Horstede (‘the place of the horses’) in West Sussex and Milton in Buckinghamshire. At the north end of the village, the Grade I-listed Church of St Giles stands on the site of a pre-Christian place of worship, although the Norman architects who erected the present 12th-century cruciform building with its landmark spire preserved parts of the Saxon fabric.

Such is the backdrop to The Old Rectory in Church Lane, Horsted Keynes, which stands in 27 acres of spectacular gardens and grounds on the edge of Ashdown Forest and is now for sale, for the first time in more than 30 years, at a guide price of £6 million through Knight Frank.

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The impressive 10,067sq ft country house should, perhaps, be called The New Rectory, given that it stands on the site of a former rectory dating from at least Elizabethan times, which was demolished in the 1970s. In other words, this is very likely the newest ‘Old Rectory’ in England. And therefore, surely, the world.

According to selling agent Oliver Rodbourne, the present owner, who, in 1993, bought the imposing house with its large Georgian sash windows dominating the main façade and Victorian-style bays at either end, has, over the years, greatly improved the house and gardens.

Amenities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, games rooms, a squash court, tennis court, a three-hole golf course and ornamental pools that flow into the lake.

Not so much a poolhouse as a… pool church?

The west-facing main house, which is unlisted, stands on high ground overlooking the ponds and lake, with sweeping views towards the South Downs.

It offers ‘an abundance of impressive rooms with no shortage of space, light and tall ceilings’, including entrance and staircase halls.

There are four main reception rooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room, principal bedroom suite, four further bedrooms and three bathrooms. Additional accommodation is provided in the three-bedroom lodge.

The Old Rectory in Horsted Keynes is for sale £6 million via Knight Frank — see more details and pictures.

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