Country houses for sale

Where Cotswolds stone meets Art Deco, a fabulous country home with walled garden, stables — and a pool to wash your sheep

A superb Cotswolds mansion with an intriguing history — not least its 'sheepwashing pool' — has come to the market near Moreton-in-Marsh. Penny Churchill took a closer look.

In the northern reaches of the Cotswolds, Savills and Knight Frank are joint agents in the sale of imposing Hill Top House. Somewhat surprisingly this £8 million home is unlisted, giving the new owners all sorts of options for a home that stands in 35 acres of long-established gardens and pasture, with views looking eastwards towards Brailes Hill near Banbury.

The house is close to Bourton-on-the-Hill, a hillside village that lies on the north-eastern slopes of the Cotswold escarpment, overlooking the Moreton Vale, two miles from Moreton-in-Marsh (with its 90 minute train service to London) and five miles from Broadway, Worcestershire. The village is located between two of the north Cotswolds’ great estates, Batsford and Sezincote, and has a pleasing mix of 17th-century cottages, farm-houses, a fine early-19th-century former rectory and the Grade I-listed, Norman Church of St Lawrence, which dominates the village.

In all, there is some 7,220sq ft of traditional country-living space, including, on the ground floor, an impressive reception hall, drawing and dining rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room and various utilities.

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The first floor houses two bedroom suites and a third bedroom, with three bedroom suites and a sitting room/fourth bedroom on the second floor. Further accommodation is available in a three-bedroom guest house or a staff bungalow.

Hill Top is an ideal equestrian property, whose two stable yards comprise a traditional Cotswold barn, extensive stabling, foaling boxes, tack and feed rooms, a machinery store and useful outbuildings.

Hill Top House dates from the 1860s and was previously known as Rectory Farm, when it was part of the living of Bourton-in-the-Hill acquired in 1810 by an astute and eccentric cleric, Samuel Wilson Warneford, who lived at Bourton rectory until his death, aged 92, in 1855. The farm was a typical Cotswold sheep farm, complete with a traditional sheep-washing pool; the pool and the view to the village church still remain.

Rectory Farm was later renamed Hill Top House and extended in the 1930s in the Art Deco style.

At some point, it was also home to the Three Ashes Stud, following the conversion of some former farm buildings to stables.

According to the agents, the quality of construction of the three-storey main house matches that of the views, being of the local Cotswold stone with fine mullioned windows and leaded lights under a Cotswold slate roof.

The earlier south wing has accommodation on two floors and links to the main house at both ground- and first-floor levels, which means it can be used either as part of the main house or as separate, two-bedroom staff accommodation.

Hill Top House is for sale with an asking price of £8m. See more details at the Savills and Knight Frank listings.