Prop­erty Mar­ket

For fam­ily-friendly ele­gance and charm, you can’t beat the clas­sics

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Penny Churchill

AL­THOUGH deemed a tad too ‘plain’ by Pevs­ner, few houses pro­ject the sim­plic­ity and ele­gance of a clas­sic Ge­or­gian coun­try house with the aplomb of im­pos­ing Seend Park, which stands in some 26 acres of mag­nif­i­cent gar­dens, grounds and park­land on the eastern edge of the pretty Wilt­shire vil­lage of Seend, four miles from De­vizes and 16 miles from Bath. For James Macken­zie of Strutt & Parker (020–7629 7282), who’s han­dling its sale at a guide price of £4.5 mil­lion and who has seen his fair share of coun­try houses over the years, this Ge­or­gian gem is ‘one of very few houses that grow on you a bit more each time you walk through the door’.

Ac­cord­ing to its Grade II list­ing, Seend Park, orig­i­nally known as Seend Green House, was the prin­ci­pal house of the vil­lage from the 17th cen­tury on­wards and is said to date from 1620. In the 1660s, it was owned by John Som­ner, whose friend the an­ti­quary and di­arist John Aubrey was born and reared near Malmes­bury and, in 1652, in­her­ited large es­tates from his fa­ther, as well as some com­pli­cated debts, which, to­gether with a prof­li­gate life­style, even­tu­ally led to the sale of all his fam­ily prop­er­ties. In a rare mo­ment of gen­eros­ity, Aubrey wrote of Seend: ‘I know not any small coun­try vil­lage that has so many well built houses.’

In 1665, while stay­ing with Som­ner at Seend Green House, Aubrey be­came en­gaged to his host’s sis­ter, Joan, but, within the year, the en­gage­ment was bro­ken off, re­sult­ing in a fur­ther three years of bit­ter lit­i­ga­tion. Fifty years later, in 1716, the house passed to Ed­ward Sey­mour, later 8th Duke of Som­er­set, on his mar­riage to Som­ner’s grand-daugh­ter, Mary Webb.

Sey­mour in­her­ited his duke­dom and lands in Devon and Wilt­shire on his fa­ther’s death in Novem­ber 1750 and, 10 years later, his for­mi­da­ble widow, Mary, Dowa­ger Duchess of Som­er­set, had Seend Green House re­built and ex­tended, no­tably with the ad­di­tion of the east wing.

The re­mod­elling is com­mem­o­rated by the stone crest of the Dukes of Som­er­set that hangs over the front door and a stone plaque on the east wall in­scribed ‘Built by the DGS of Som­er­set’; the house re­mained in Som­er­set hands well into the 19th cen­tury.

Fur­ther al­ter­ations car­ried out in the early 1800s were prob­a­bly for the banker C. Tylee, who leased the house from 1820 to 1825.

In the late 1980s, the present own­ers were look­ing to move to the West Coun­try from their home in Boughton Monchelsea, Kent. They were look­ing for ‘a spe­cial house’, with no fixed ideas on lo­ca­tion, when they fell on Seend Green House, which was back on the mar­ket, hav­ing been bought by a young cou­ple who failed in their bid to con­vert it to a coun­try-house ho­tel. The sale was swiftly com­pleted and, in 1990, the new own­ers em­barked on an in­spi­ra­tional re­fur­bish­ment of the house and grounds.

Apart from gen­eral re­dec­o­ra­tion and some prac­ti­cal im­prove­ments to the lay­out of the house—such as switch­ing the kitchen and din­ing room back to their orig­i­nal po­si­tions on op­po­site sides of the build­ing, con­vert­ing dress­ing rooms to pro­vide ad­di­tional bath­rooms and in­cor­po­rat­ing a for­mer sit­ting room into what is now a sub­stan­tial li­brary—ev­ery ef­fort has been made to pre­serve and en­hance its es­sen­tial Ge­or­gian char­ac­ter and make the most of its glo­ri­ous far-reach­ing views to­wards Sal­is­bury Plain.

All floors, win­dows, shut­ters, ceil­ings and fire­places are orig­i­nal and gleam with a lus­tre that re­flects decades of de­voted care. It was also de­cided that the house should re­vert to its 17th-cen­tury name of Seend Park.

Al­though the main house of­fers 11,357sq ft of light-filled liv­ing space on three floors, in­clud­ing five re­cep­tion rooms, a be­spoke kitchen/break­fast room, var­i­ous util­i­ties, 10 bed­rooms and five bath/shower rooms, the op­tion to shut off the five sec­ond-floor bed­rooms makes for easy liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ing when chil­dren flee the nest.

The re­cently ren­o­vated, four-bed­room Lodge House, which has been home in re­cent years to the moth­ers of both own­ers, pro­vides a fur­ther 1,994sq ft of guest or staff ac­com­mo­da­tion. The orig­i­nal sta­ble fit­tings in the pretty coach house (cur­rently used as an of­fice) have been re­tained and could eas­ily be con­verted back to sta­bling for three horses.

How­ever, as Mr Macken­zie points out, ‘it’s when you reach the gar­den that you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the mag­ni­tude and clas­si­cal Ge­or­gian pro­por­tions of Seend Park. The enor­mous walled gar­den is di­vided into rooms, with two rose gar­dens, a white gar­den, a top­i­ary gar­den, a large veg­etable gar­den, colour­ful herba­ceous and laven­der bor­ders, two small ponds and a lovely sum­mer house’.

He con­tin­ues: ‘The re­main­der of the grounds are laid to lawn, with large trees, a small lake with a water­fall, is­land and jetty, a semi­cir­cu­lar wavy yew hedge and a wood­land of broad-leaved trees. The un­spoiled fields of 17 acres, with a stream and park­land trees, are edged by Love Lane, a pretty walk from the fur­thest point of the prop­erty up into the vil­lage.’

It all adds up to a Wilt­shire Ar­ca­dia, skil­fully cre­ated with the help of one full-time gar­dener and his wife, both of whom would be will­ing to stay on should a new owner wish them to do so.

Back in the Home Coun­ties, the Hor­sham of­fice of Strutt & Parker (01403 246790) is han­dling the sale of another Ge­or­gian gem, Grade Ii-listed The Old Rec­tory at Twine­ham, West Sus­sex, at a guide price of £2.35m for the light and cheer­ful house set in 1¼ acres of eas­ily main­tained gar­dens and grounds.

For much of the past 18 years, the for­mer rec­tory to Twine­ham’s 16th-cen­tury parish church of St Peter—said to be one of the old­est in the county—has been the trea­sured fam­ily home of Sarah Fiedo­siuk, her late hus­band, Josek, and their two sons, now aged 18 and 20. ‘It seems only yes­ter­day that we were liv­ing in Lon­don, des­per­ately look­ing to move out with our two small chil­dren when, just as we were about to aban­don our search—hav­ing been gazumped umpteen times—we spot­ted an ad­ver­tise­ment in Coun­try Life for The Old Rec­tory and im­me­di­ately fell in love with it. Now, the boys are off to univer­sity and I’m look­ing to down­size to a smaller house in a vil­lage nearby,’ Mrs Fiedo­siuk re­flects.

Built in the early 1800s, pre­sum­ably by the Gor­ings, who were lords of the manor at that time, The Old Rec­tory stands in an idyl­lic po­si­tion within the small vil­lage of Twine­ham, seven miles from the com­muter hub of Hay­wards Heath and 12 miles from Brighton. The house boasts some 4,750sq ft of fam­ily-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion, in­clud­ing three main re­cep­tion rooms, a kitchen/break­fast room, six bed­rooms, three bath­rooms and cel­lars with a games room and wine store. The pretty, part-walled gar­dens are mainly laid to lawn and in­clude a swim­ming pool, a sunken gar­den and an or­na­men­tal pond.

A Wilt­shire Ar­ca­dia: Seend Park at Seend is a clas­sic Ge­or­gian house nestling in some 26 acres of gar­dens and grounds. £4.5m

The floors, win­dows, shut­ters, ceil­ings and fire­places are lov­ingly re­stored orig­i­nals

Seend Park is ‘one of very few houses that grow on you a bit more each time you walk through the door,’ say the sell­ing agents

Decades of de­voted care by the present own­ers are ev­i­dent through­out

Grade Ii-listed The Old Rec­tory at Twine­ham, West Sus­sex, is the per­fect fam­ily home, with eas­ily main­tained gar­dens.£2.35m

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