Es­tates of grace

A lit­tle-known house by John Nash and an ‘urbe in rus’ come to the mar­ket

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

IN one of the most ex­cit­ing coun­try­house sales seen in Hampshire for many a year, el­e­gant, Grade Ii*-listed War­rens, set in 183 acres of glo­ri­ous park­land and pas­ture at Bramshaw in the north-east cor­ner of the New For­est Na­tional Park, has been launched on the mar­ket through Strutt & Parker (01722 344010), at a guide price of £9.75 mil­lion. One of Re­gency ar­chi­tect John Nash’s least-known coun­try houses, War­rens was built in 1801–2 for Ge­orge Eyre, scion of a long-es­tab­lished Wilt­shire landown­ing fam­ily, and is be­ing sold for the first time, hav­ing been the New For­est seat of seven gen­er­a­tions of Eyres.

The es­tate takes its name from the War­ren or Waryn fam­ily, who owned land in Bramshaw—then in Wilt­shire, later in Hampshire —one of sev­eral manors granted to the pow­er­ful de Lacy fam­ily, whose de­scen­dant, the heiress El­iz­a­beth de St Omer, mar­ried Thomas Waryn in the 14th cen­tury.

In the early 17th cen­tury, Si­mon War­ren in­creased his land hold­ings in the parish un­til, in 1746, his great-great-grand­son, Wil­liam War­ren, sold the es­tate to Sa­muel Yonge of Rom­sey, whose son sold it to Sa­muel Orr in 1789. Nine years later, Orr sold the es­tate to the schol­arly Ge­orge Eyre, soon to be made a Fel­low of All Souls’ Col­lege, Ox­ford.

From the 17th cen­tury on­wards, the Eyre fam­ily achieved dis­tinc­tion in many fields, in­clud­ing the Church, the law, the City of Lon­don and lo­cal and na­tional pol­i­tics. Ge­orge Eyre was the el­dest son of Charles Eyre of Clapham, High Sher­iff of Sur­rey, who con­sol­i­dated his for­tune in the 1730s with the ac­qui­si­tion of a half-share in the Royal Printer’s patent and the de­vel­op­ment of what was to be­come the fam­ily printin­gand-pub­lish­ing firm of Eyre & Spot­tis­woode.

Once set­tled at War­rens, Eyre threw his en­er­gies into lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion, be­com­ing a mag­is­trate, High Sher­iff of Wilt­shire, a Verderer of the New For­est and Mayor of Christchurch. First of all, he set out to re­place the ex­ist­ing early-ge­or­gian es­tate house with some­thing more fash­ion­able and el­e­gant and, in May 1801, Nash was com­mis­sioned to build a clas­sic new house at an es­ti­mated cost of £7,571 15s.

Com­ple­tion was sched­uled for the fol­low­ing June—a date that was to prove wildly op­ti­mistic—and an en­try recorded by the owner on June 30, 1805, re­veals a to­tal of £12,286 2s 2d spent ‘on build­ing etc of ev­ery de­scrip­tion’.

This fig­ure may in­clude the cost of an ex­ten­sion car­ried out by Eyre him­self, who

later em­ployed an uniden­ti­fied ar­chi­tect to dou­ble the size of War­rens by cre­at­ing a mir­ror image of Nash’s orig­i­nal build­ing at the other end of the ser­vice wing. The two build­ings were linked by a con­ser­va­tory or gar­den room, prob­a­bly de­signed by Nash.

In the late 1890s, Eyre’s grand­son, master printer Ge­orge Ed­ward Briscoe Eyre of Eyre & Spot­tis­woode and a lead­ing light in the his­tory of New For­est con­ser­va­tion, in­her­ited the house from a bach­e­lor un­cle, but, find­ing it too small for a fam­ily house, en­gaged the Arts-and-crafts ar­chi­tect Philip Webb to con­sid­er­ably en­large it.

Webb built a three-storey block on the western side of the house and cre­ated a new main en­trance in the north-west cor­ner of the new wing. He re­tained the old kitchen, adding a floor of menser­vants’ bed­rooms, plus an ‘oc­ca­sional room’ and a study. An ad­di­tional fam­ily ‘com­mon room’ was cre­ated by in­sert­ing dou­ble doors be­tween it and Nash’s din­ing room.

Webb’s con­nec­tion with War­rens was all but for­got­ten in the 20th cen­tury, when so­cial change led to his block be­ing de­mol­ished, al­though his fine com­mon room re­mained in­tact and now serves as the din­ing room. En­hance­ment works such as Webb’s in­te­rior fit­tings, plas­ter­work and or­na­ment —ad­mired by fel­low Arts-and-crafts ar­chi­tects, in­clud­ing Lu­tyens—have also sur­vived.

‘Few im­por­tant English coun­try houses can boast an ap­proach as spec­tac­u­lar as that of War­rens, whose amaz­ing, quar­ter­mile-long drive­way me­an­ders through the es­tate’s 174 acres of park­land and wood­land, the whole en­tirely ring-fenced and pri­vate with no pub­lic rights of way,’ says sell­ing agent Char­lie Evans, who high­lights the ap­peal of the es­tate’s New For­est lo­ca­tion and easy ac­cess to Lon­don, Winch­ester and the Hampshire coast.

Beau­ti­fully main­tained by suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions of the Eyre fam­ily, War­rens of­fers 14,570sq ft of liv­ing space in the main house, in­clud­ing five/six re­cep­tion rooms, nine bed­rooms and five bath­rooms, plus two cot­tages and a staff flat.

‘Soho Farm­house in the Sur­rey Hills’ is the anal­ogy drawn by Trevor Kear­ney of Sav­ills (020–7409 8872) to il­lus­trate the level of so­phis­ti­ca­tion grafted onto the al­ready im­pres­sive coun­try-house cre­den­tials of Grade Ii*-listed Pick­hurst at Chid­ding­fold, be­tween Go­dalm­ing and Hasle­mere, in a re­fur­bish­ment of a re­fur­bish­ment of a Vic­to­rian man­sion built for him­self in the style of Nor­man Shaw in 1885–89 by the Scot­tish­born ar­chi­tect John Mckean Bry­don. Launched on the mar­ket in to­day’s Coun­try

Life at a guide price of £28m for the im­mac­u­late, ul­tra-high-spec man­sion and its pic­turesque, 130-acre shoot­ing and fish­ing es­tate, Pick­hurst in its lat­est in­car­na­tion is aimed squarely at ‘an in­ter­na­tional clien­tele that tends to live glob­ally, mov­ing at a mo­ment’s no­tice among their var­i­ous houses or yachts around the world’, Mr Kear­ney ex­plains.

The orig­i­nal, late-vic­to­rian house was much re­duced in size in the 1950s, when its orig­i­nal ser­vice wing and in­ter­nal court­yard were de­mol­ished af­ter a fire. Fol­low­ing a mas­sive, six-year restora­tion bril­liantly ex­e­cuted by coun­try-house spe­cial­ist Ian Adam-smith, the house was re­con­fig­ured and ex­tended, its cot­tages and out­build­ings re­stored and its gar­dens re­designed and re­planted by Ara­bella Len­nox-boyd and Fiona Lawrenson.

Re­launched onto the mar­ket by Knight Frank at a guide price of £15m in May 2013, the es­tate was bought by its cur­rent owner, a suc­cess­ful player at this rar­efied stra­tum of the res­i­den­tial mar­ket, who went on to spend a fur­ther £6 mil­lion or more to revamp the in­te­rior to what Mr Kear­ney de­scribes as ‘Lon­don stan­dards’ of in­te­rior de­sign and fin­ish.

The main house now presents some 20,000sq ft of lux­u­ri­ous fam­ily liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ing space. An­cil­lary ac­com­mo­da­tion com­prises a three-bed­room coach house with a gym­na­sium, sauna and re­lax­ation suite, a Grade Ii-listed en­trance lodge and two fur­ther three-bed­room cot­tages.

Coun­try-house pur­suits are equally well catered for within the grounds, which in­clude eight sta­bles, three walled gar­dens, a swim­ming pool, a tennis court, pas­ture, wood­land and the low-key fam­ily shoot.

Prin­ci­pally de­signed by John Nash, War­rens at Bramshaw in Hampshire (above and be­low) is sur­rounded by the New For­est. £9.75m

The present own­ers have spent £6m to make Pick­hurst, at Chid­ding­fold, Sur­rey, the ul­ti­mate so­phis­ti­cated sport­ing es­tate. £28m

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