From historic houses to modern masterpieces, the county still leads the pack
Penny Churchill, Eleanor Doughty and Annunciata Walton pick Surrey’s best properties
IN what estate agents fondly call ‘a flight to quality’, the elite property market in Surrey is seeing a surge in demand for ‘special’ houses, be they classic country houses, top-of-the-range new-builds or sleek, eco-friendly, one-off confections of glass and steel. On the other hand, houses that fail to tick the right boxes are unlikely to warrant a second look.
Philip Harvey of buying agents Property Vision sums up the mood in the marketplace: ‘There is good—if not huge—demand for houses of real quality, both in north Surrey where the greatest appetite is still for top-of-the-range new-builds, and in the Surrey Hills, where the market is hampered by a shortage of good country houses for sale, largely because many would-be vendors don’t believe the demand is there and are still sitting tight. However, the buyers are out there—many of them London families who fear they may have missed the boat by not moving out of town before house prices stalled or international buyers from the Middle East or the USA, who can take advantage of the post-brexit drop in the value of sterling.’
Nowhere, says Mr Harvey, has the gulf between ‘the best’ and ‘the rest’ been more starkly illustrated than in St George’s Hill, Weybridge, where a sudden influx of new developers resulted in ‘a massive over-supply’ of relatively low-grade houses. Not surprisingly, these ‘also-rans’ soon fell by the wayside and were either sold off cheaply or left unfinished as developers abandoned ship. Now, finally, the high standards of design and execution traditionally associated with houses on ‘the Hill’ are once more the order of the day.
Knight Frank (01372 464496) and Savills (01932 838000) are joint agents in the sale of pristine Edgeworth in Camp End Road, St George’s Hill, at a guide price of £8.95 million. The immaculate 7,479sq ft house was built in 1927 by master builder W. G. Tarrant, who, in 1911, bought the surrounding 964 acres with a view to creating an estate of ‘large country retreats for the wealthy gentlemen of London’. For Tim Garbett of Knight Frank, Edgeworth is ‘a really special house’, which has been modified and extended over the years, while remaining sympathetic to Tarrant’s original design. The beautifully proportioned, Tudor-style house stands on the site of a former Bronze Age hill fort at the
highest point of the estate, a location designed to make the most of the far-reaching views, which are as spectacular now as they were 90 years ago.
Set in 2.8 acres of magnificent gardens and grounds in which the ramparts of a Roman encampment can still be seen, Edgeworth is ‘probably one of only about a dozen houses in St George’s Hill that has more than 2½ acres of gardens,’ Mr Garbett points out.
The most recent revamp of the interior has been carried out by the present owners— the showstopper being the grand vaulted reception hall by Border Oak, designed to host classical music events. Overall, the internal layout has been reconfigured to suit grand family living, with elegant accommodation that includes five reception rooms, a large Smallbone kitchen/breakfast room, a sumptuous master suite, seven further bedrooms and two further bathrooms.
For Nigel Mitchell of Knight Frank in Guildford (01483 565171), at £3.85m, immaculate, Grade Ii-listed Old Pickhurst at Chid- dingfold, near Godalming, is ‘the best of the best’. One of south Surrey’s most popular villages, Chiddingfold enjoyed a period of great prosperity in medieval times, when it was a centre of glass-making, supplying glass for St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and other important buildings. Several houses around the village date from the Tudor period, among them Old Pickhurst, which, according to its listing, dates from the 17th century, when it was built of the local sandstone with decorative brick dressings under a plain tile roof.
Extended in the early 20th century, the 1930s, and again by the current owners, Old Pickhurst abuts the 130-acre Pickhurst estate, of which it was once a part. The interior offers the classic comfort of fine panelled Tudor reception rooms, which contrast with the unashamedly Minimalist kitchen and bathrooms. In all, the house boasts 5,623sq ft of living space, including four reception rooms, five bedrooms and five bath/shower rooms.
Formal gardens and grounds of just over 5½ acres provide a splendid backdrop and include a swimming pool, a two-room pool house, a gym, a Wendy house, a log cabin, stores, garaging and outbuildings.
With 21 houses sold by Savills for more than £2m in Surrey this year, regional director Richard Winter is characteristically upbeat about the county’s prospects. Traditionalists
Above and below: Edgeworth, in Camp End Road, St George’s Hill, was built in 1927 by W. G. Tarrant and has been extended. £8.95m
Above and below: ‘The best of the best’: Old Pickhurst at Chiddingfold mixes historical features with contemporary comfort. £3.85m