Country houses for sale

An utterly gorgeous Victorian house with character, charm and a couple of acres, all for just £650k

Those who dream of swapping a suburban semi for something magnificent should step right up.

Sometimes a house comes on to the market which seems to offer so much, for so little, that it’s genuinely hard to believe.

Not often, but sometimes — and it’s emphatically the case with Oaklands House, on the edge of the small Somerset town of Chard, which has appeared on the market with a £650,000 price attached. To see a property of such immense charm, full of such lovely period details, at the price you’d pay for a semi-detached bungalow on the outskirts of London is astonishing.

The house was built in 1883 by James Gifford, a lace manufacturer — though he didn’t live here long. Soon after the place was finished, he died, leaving Oaklands to become the family home of his son and daughter-in-law, James and Emma Gifford, who as well as raising four children in the house, were scientists and pioneers in the field of X-rays, a tale fascinatingly told in the local Chard Museum.

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James and Emma Gifford had both a laboratory and an observatory built at Oaklands House; and while both are now gone,the rest of the house feels as if they’d still recognise it. There is a wood-panelled sitting room with a wonderful plaster ceiling; a glorious hallway with original tiled floor still in place; there are sash windows, grand light fittings, a beautiful meandering staircase and much more.

To be sure, there is a lot of work to do. The kitchen, for example, has a touch of the 1980s about it — and not in a good way — while the bedrooms are feeling tired and dated.

The price leads us to the first caveat: it’s a guide price, since the house is going up for auction on April 18th, via Symonds & Sampson. They’re a well established agent of fine reputation, and know the market well… but it’s always possible that a bidding war could push things much higher.

The other caveat, naturally, is the fact that buying a property at auction means that you need to have all your metaphorical ducks in a row before you even think about aiming that meaningful wink at the auctioneer — because a winning bid is a binding contract. So don’t get carried away by the wonders of the lake and bid without checking your bank balance.

Assessing the condition of the house is the first job. There isn’t necessarily something wrong with a house being sold via auction — most are put up by local authorities, investors, or banks prioritising a quick sale — but you do need to satisfy yourself ahead of time about the condition of the place, and the remedial work that might need doing.

On top of that, you’ll also need your finances in place: you don’t necessarily need cash to bid, but you’ll need to pay 10% deposit before leaving the auction, and the rest inside 28 days.

It’s not hard to imagine potential bidders getting over those concerns, however, for this is clearly a very special house with superb gardens at a price which is likely to have bidders from all over get excited at the prospect. We can’t wait to see what happens at the auction on April 18th, and wish the best of luck to all who go for it.

Oaklands House is for sale via auction through Symonds & Sampson with a guide price of £650,000 — see more details and pictures.

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