Manors worth fight­ing for

Few houses can boast hun­dreds of years of his­tory and a sparkling fu­ture

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

Few grand coun­try houses en­cap­su­late 800 tor­tu­ous years of english his­tory as in­trigu­ingly as Stoneythorpe Hall (Fig 1) at Southam, war­wick­shire, which comes to the mar­ket with 50 acres of land, at a guide price of £3.75 mil­lion through Strutt & Parker (01295 273592). Although the site of Stoneythorpe Hall prob­a­bly dates from the Nor­man Con­quest, the ear­li­est of­fi­cial record of a sub­stan­tial house on the site comes in 1202, when Thomas Sam­son granted it to Nor­man Sam­son, prob­a­bly his son.

The Sam­son fam­ily owned the manor un­til 1310–11, when it was sold to a canny lawyer, the in­flu­en­tial Sir wil­liam de Bere­ford, who sat in the Court of the Com­mon Bench for 32 years. when charged with par­tial­ity in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice in Stafford­shire, his fel­low jus­tices con­vinced the King of his in­no­cence and his ac­cusers were sent to the Tower ‘for pub­licly in­sult­ing a royal min­is­ter’. Sir wil­liam died in 1326, by which time he held es­tates in eight coun­ties.

There­after, Stoneythorpe passed by mar­riage, first to the Hoare fam­ily and then to the Hanslapps of Aynho, who prob­a­bly built the present hall around the orig­i­nal me­dieval hall-house, in about 1549. In the early 1600s, the house was oc­cu­pied by the Rec­tor of

Southam, Fran­cis Holyoake, whose life, ac­cord­ing to the Dic­tio­nary of Na­tional

Biog­ra­phy, was ‘abruptly dis­rupted in his old age by the Civil War [when] Roy­al­ist sym­pa­thies led to his home be­ing raided by Par­lia­men­tary forces in 1642’.

His son, Thomas, born at Stoneythorpe in 1616, was ed­u­cated at Ox­ford and, at the out­break of the war, com­mis­sioned to lead an in­fantry com­pany of Ox­ford schol­ars. Later re­warded by Charles I with a doc­tor­ate of di­vin­ity, he in­sisted on be­ing ad­dressed there­after as Dr Holyoake. He was also known as ‘a per­sis­tent and an­noy­ing sup­pli­cant for rich liv­ings’ and, in 1674, re­ceived the gift of Breamore, Hamp­shire, where he died a year later, at the age of 58.

In 1655, a Hanslapp wife or widow sold the Stoneythorpe Hall es­tate to Am­brose Hol­beach of Molling­ton, one of the first 17th-cen­tury lawyers to make a liv­ing ‘mainly through con­veyanc­ing’. In 1671, an­other Am­brose Hol­beach sold Stoneythorpe to John Cham­ber­layne, a London mer­chant, af­ter which it re­mained in Cham­ber­layne fam­ily hands for the next 300 years.

Wil­liam Tankerville Cham­ber­layne died at Stoneythorpe in De­cem­ber 1905, leav­ing an es­tate of some £52,762 or about £3.5m in to­day’s money. At the time of the 1911 cen­sus, his widow, Eve­lyn, who was still liv­ing at the hall with two un­mar­ried daugh­ters, de­clared it as hav­ing ‘25 prin­ci­pal rooms in­clud­ing the kitchen’. Mrs Cham­ber­layne lived on at the house un­til her death in Jan­uary 1931; at least one of her daugh­ters was still liv­ing there in 1939.

Stoneythorpe later passed to the Gal­li­ford fam­ily and was even­tu­ally of­fered for sale in 1999, when it was bought by Dr Dal­las Burston, a pas­sion­ate polo fan, who made his for­tune build­ing up and sell­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Although a re­puted £122m was in­vested in the cre­ation of a world-class polo, con­fer­ence and events cen­tre on the 600-acre site, the hall was left largely un­touched and even­tu­ally of­fered for sale, in about 2008, as ‘a house of more than 9,000sq ft in need of to­tal re­fur­bish­ment, con­sist­ing of ten bed­rooms, four reception rooms, plus out­build­ings, the whole set in fifty acres of land’.

Van­dalised and unloved, the hall was a crum­bling wreck when its cur­rent owner, the dy­namic lo­cal busi­ness­man Rus­sell

‘There was some­thing mag­i­cal about the house’

Har­ri­son, hap­pened to be driv­ing by and spot­ted the sign­board for the derelict manor house, which was boarded up and in a ter­ri­ble state of repair. ‘There was some­thing mag­i­cal about the house, although I soon re­alised that this wasn’t a ren­o­va­tion job, but a com­plete struc­tural re­build, which was go­ing to be ex­tremely ex­pen­sive. How­ever, I was not put off and, hav­ing bought the house eight years ago, my part­ner and I spent three years on the ren­o­va­tion—at a cost of sev­eral mil­lion,’ Mr Har­ri­son re­veals.

The re­sult is a spec­tac­u­lar com­bi­na­tion of old and new in a his­toric fam­ily house of rare dis­tinc­tion (Fig 4). To­day’s pris­tine, Grade Ii-listed Stoneythorpe Hall has a grand en­trance hall, six reception rooms, a cin­ema, a state-of-the-art kitchen (Fig

2), a mas­ter suite, six bed­rooms and five bath­rooms, plus out­build­ings and sta­bles, sur­rounded by gar­dens, grounds and park­land.

With his next project—a new-build, en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient house built with­out bricks, mor­tar or ce­ment—loom­ing large on his hori­zon, Mr Har­ri­son’s War­wick­shire mas­ter­piece awaits a new owner, who will have noth­ing more tax­ing to do about the house than su­per­vise the un­pack­ing of the fam­ily’s bags.

The Ex­eter of­fice of Strutt & Parker (01392 215631) is also han­dling the sale— at a guide price of £2.25m—of the im­pec­ca­bly re­stored, Grade Ii*-listed Wyld Court

(Fig 3), which stands in some 17 acres of for­mal gar­dens, pas­ture and wood­land on the edge of the charm­ing vil­lage of Hawkchurch, four miles from Axmin­ster, Devon. Ac­cord­ing to Pevs­ner, Wyld Court dates from about 1600, although there has been a house on the site since me­dieval times, when it was owned by Cerne Abbey.

Orig­i­nally an ‘E-plan’ El­iz­a­bethan manor built in 1593, the house now re­sem­bles the let­ter ‘F’, the re­sult of the de­struc­tion of the west wing by Cromwell’s sol­diers in their search for Charles II, who re­put­edly stayed at Wyld Court be­fore flee­ing to France in 1651, fol­low­ing his de­feat at the bat­tle of Worces­ter, the last en­counter of the English Civil War. The manor also in­cor­po­rates a Vic­to­rian stone ex­ten­sion from about 1860, which some say in­volved the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the young Thomas Hardy, who was ap­pren­ticed as an ar­chi­tect in the area, be­fore em­bark­ing on his lit­er­ary ca­reer.

Metic­u­lously re­stored by its last owner, who bought it in a state of ‘faded glory’ in 2005, Wyld Court has more than 8,000sq ft of liv­ing space, with five reception rooms

(Fig 5 and 6), in­clud­ing the Tu­dor great hall, a light-filled gar­den room, two kitchens, a grand mas­ter suite and six bed­rooms (in­clud­ing the King’s Bed­room), all with en-suite bath­rooms.

The present own­ers, Alan Craske and Wendy Bin­der, bought the manor in 2014 with a view to set­ting up a sub­stan­tial hol­i­day-let busi­ness on the back of plan­ning con­sent granted for the con­ver­sion of a range of for­mer farm build­ings and sta­bles. How­ever, com­mon sense kicked in when they re­alised the ex­tent of the com­mit­ment in­volved. ‘We love the house to bits and we love the vil­lage of Hawkchurch, but we grad­u­ally re­alised that it would take a good five years to get the busi­ness up and run­ning, by which time, we would be ap­proach­ing our sev­en­ties and prob­a­bly look­ing to re­tire. We fully in­tend to keep a week­end cot­tage in the area.’

‘A young Thomas Hardy was ap­pren­ticed as an ar­chi­tect in the area’

Fig 1: Sur­viv­ing 800 tu­mul­tuous years of English his­tory: serene Stoneythorpe Hall, at Southam, War­wick­shire. £3.75m

Fig 2: The im­pec­ca­ble restora­tion of Stoneythorpe Hall per­fectly mixes old and new

Fig 3: There has been a house on the site of charm­ing Wyld Court, at Hawkchurch in Devon, since me­dieval times. £2.25m

Fig 4: Bring­ing Stoneythorpe Hall back to life was a labour of love for the cur­rent owner

Fig 5: The own­ers of Wyld Court had planned to set up a hol­i­day-let busi­ness

Fig 6: Wyld Court’s Tu­dor and Vic­to­rian el­e­ments have been beau­ti­fully in­cor­po­rated

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.