Country houses for sale

‘The view is incomparable’: A country house for sale that charmed Vita Sackville-West, and it’s as graceful now as it was in the 1950s

Penny Churchill takes a look at Chart Place, an idyllic country house with an enviable setting that's come to the market.

Charming, Grade II-listed Chart Place sits within five acres of gardens and paddock at Chart Sutton, four miles from Maidstone. Today, this 18th century house in Kent is for sale via Strutt & Parker in Sevenoaks and Savills in Cranbrook, with the joint agents  listing it for sale at a guide price of £2.95m.

Upon seeing the house advertised in Country Life in the 1950s, Vita Sackville-West wrote to her friend Alvilda Lees-Milne: ‘As you will see… it is neither romantic nor picturesque nor earwiggy; the rooms are neither dark nor poky… It faces south and the view is incomparable… You look over uninterrupted miles of the Weald… truly the most superb view. The drawing room is a lovely room. It was flooded with sun when I was there today.’

It was probably the same room and the same view that captivated Shirley Day and her late husband when they went to view Chart Place in 1982, fell in love with it and bought it that year, although the house hadn’t been refurbished since 1927. Mrs Day knows that for a fact, because, when they started to remove the tattered wallpaper from the stairs, they found the name of the previous decorator and the date: 1927.

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From then on, everything about the house was a voyage of discovery, from the curtains lined with army blankets left by wartime evacuees to the kitchen garden buried beneath undergrowth and weeds; from the Roman soldier’s cloak pin found in the woods by a boy with a metal detector to a rusty iron pillar — all that remained of the veranda that was taken away as part of the war effort. Mrs Day recalls how these elements, and many others, helped the couple to re-create the house as it was in its heyday.

According to its Historic England listing, Chart Place was built in 1708 around a 16th-century or earlier core by Sir Christopher Desbouverie, a Huguenot refugee who made his fortune in London, and re-faced in the early and mid 19th century.

The main house offers more than 9,200sq ft of light and airy living space on three floors, including four reception rooms, a study, kitchen/breakfast room, six bedrooms and four bathrooms, plus an attic guest suite in the former servants’ quarters.

To the north of the house, an attached cottage provides further accommodation, in addition to which a coach house provides storage and stabling with a flat above. Nearby, the rejuvenated plantsman’s gardens include a wooded dell, a splendid walled garden and a folly — reminders of the gardens that enchanted Sackville-West more than 70 years ago.

Chart Place is for sale at £2.95m — see more details with Savills or Strutt & Parker.

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