Sometimes size doesn’t matter when you’re looking for a special property
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to charm for Penny Churchill
LAUNCHED on the market last week, at a guide price of £5 million through Strutt & Parker (020–7629 7282), Grade Ii-listed The Hall (Fig 1) at Shudy Camps, Cambridgeshire, is a striking Queen Anne country house set in 29 acres of picturesque parkland, 15 miles south-east of Cambridge and close to the borders of essex and Suffolk. Once the heart of an important farming estate, the elegant red-brick house has been brilliantly restored and reinstated within its original park by its current owners, Christopher and Sarah Field, who moved there with their young family in January 2005.
With 10,850sq ft of ‘partly liveable’ space on three floors to contend with, the task facing the Fields was a daunting one. ‘There were draughts and leaks everywhere and, for the first five years, the house was covered in scaffolding,’ Mrs Field recalls. With her husband working in the City, it fell to her to oversee the renovation, but, gradually, the pieces of the jigsaw came together.
According to Victoria County History, The Hall, originally known as Shudy Camps Park, was built in 1698– 1702 by Sir Marmaduke dayrell, who inherited his interest in Shudy Camps manor from his elder brother, Sir Francis. The new house consisted of ‘a long narrow front range, later remodelled and heightened, and an irregular block at the back, reconstructed in the mid 1800s in Tudor style, with offices and stables to the south’.
Presumably, this ‘Tudor style’ building is the present, three-bedroom ‘elizabethan House’ listed by english Heritage in 2002, when it was described as ‘a house (circa 1700) formerly a service range to Study Camps Park’.
For almost 200 years, successive dayrell heirs—most named alternately Marmaduke and Francis— took on the estate, which prospered at first, but gradually declined until, in 1898, the Rev Richard dayrell sold it, heavily indebted, to one Arthur Gee. Gee died five years later and, in 1904, the principal local landowner, the Rev G. F. Thornton, vicar of Shudy Camps and Canon emeritus of ely Cathedral, bought more than 300 acres, including the house and park, which, after his death, were sold again when the estate was broken up in 1939.
Requisitioned by the military during the Second World War, the house and park were sold several times in the 20th century, before being rescued by the current owners.
And what a rescue operation it has been! In addition to a thorough renovation and upgrade of the entire house, the Fields have created a splendid new kitchen/dining area in the east wing, raising the roof to insert a vaulted ceiling. The matching west-wing extension at the other end of the house has been transformed into a gym and cinema room, with a golf simulator and a fun, American diner-themed kitchen. The former gate lodge and entrance to Shudy Camps Park have been acquired and reintegrated into the grounds of The Hall.
In addition to the two extensions, the main house offers five principal reception rooms, a snug, a billiards room, a cellar with two spacious wine stores, a master suite with an en-suite bathroom, a shower room and two dressing rooms, six further bedrooms, four bath/shower rooms and a second-floor games room.
Superb equestrian facilities include stabling for four horses, a full-size dressage arena and eight post-and-railed paddocks. A new tennis court has been laid down and a heated outdoor pool installed in an enclosed garden area with a covered wooden pergola/barbecue house.
The sporting Field boys have enjoyed a blissful childhood at The Hall, but, having reached university
‘For five years, it was covered in scaffolding’
‘Not huge, but with no wasted space’
age, are spending less and less time there. With Mr Field spending half the week at their London flat in preference to a daily commute, the Fields have decided to downsize to a smaller house in the area, although their sons are understandably dismayed at the prospect of losing their favourite weekend and party venue.
Another classic country house launched earlier this month by the Market Harborough office of Strutt & Parker (01858 433123) is the beautifully renovated Old Rectory (Fig 2) at Tinwell, near Stamford, Rutland, for which ‘offers over £2m’ are being sought. Historically owned by the surrounding Burghley estate, from whom the present owners purchased it some 16 years ago, The Old Rectory, listed Grade II, stands opposite Tinwell’s lovely All Saints Church, with its unusual saddleback roof, added in about 1350.
The former rectory was the birthplace of Thomas Laxton, who practised as a solicitor in Stamford before concentrating on his main interest, the hybridisation of plants; he’s probably best known for the development of the Laxton’s Superb and Laxton’s Fortune apples, the Royal Sovereign strawberry and the Thomas Laxton pea.
The 5,000sq ft house, which dates mainly from the early 19th century and incorporates an earlier service wing to the rear, is described by selling agent Edward Brassey as ‘not huge, but with no wasted space’— a claim borne out by the owners’ ingenuity in arranging the interior to provide flexible family living space, including three main reception rooms, a breakfast kitchen, a playroom, six bedrooms (three with en-suite bathrooms) and a family bathroom.
A building in the grounds has been converted into a one-bedroom cottage, which has proved to be a highly successful holiday let. Listed-building consent has been granted for a Vale Garden House conservatory on the rear terrace.
The Old Rectory comes with just under 1½ acres of immaculate gardens and grounds, the main body set to lawn with high stone walls on the boundary and divided by mature trees, borders and yew hedges. In the north-east corner is a grass tennis court and an old stone-and-wood pony stable, with its original loose box. A further 4.8 acres of paddock adjoining the garden boundary may be available to lease from the Burghley estate.
‘For envy too small, for contempt too great’ is the motto inscribed— with the date 1777—above the front door of a north Cotswold gem, Grade Ii-listed Todenham Hall (Fig 3), a handsome, Georgian former rectory set in 11 acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks, in the village of Todenham, three miles north-east of Moreton-in-marsh in Gloucestershire.
Extensively refurbished in 2006, the house, which has 17th-century or earlier origins, offers 5,010sq ft of living space on three floors, including a reception/staircase hall, three impressive reception rooms, a fabulous bespoke kitchen/breakfast room, six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a playroom/cinema room and a bell tower.
It comes with a substantial, twobedroom coach house, likewise restored and enlarged in 2006. Strutt & Parker (01608 650502) quote a guide price of £4.5m.
Fig 1: Elegant The Hall at Shudy Camps in Cambridgeshire had been lovingly restored into the perfect family home. £5m
Fig 3: Todenham Hall is just three miles from Moreton-in-marsh, Gloucestershire. £4.5m
Fig 2: Flexible family living is a breeze at the classic Old Rectory at Tinwell, Rutland. ‘Offers over £2m’