Chance of a lifetime
Live as if to the manor born with these three sumptuous properties
THE launch onto the market through Strutt & Parker (020– 7629 7282) of the delightful, late-tudor Legh Manor at Cuckfield, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex —at a guide price of £3.7 million for the whole or in two lots—highlights the enduring relationship between the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and their clients, the barrister and philanthropist Sir William Chance and his wife, Julia, a talented amateur sculptor and a staunch supporter of the Arts-and-crafts movement.
The collaboration began in the late 1890s, when Sir William and Lady Chance were looking to build a new country house at Bramley, near Godalming, Surrey, and happened to walk past Munstead Wood, which Lutyens was building for Jekyll, his influential patron. Impressed by what they saw, they commissioned the young architect to design Orchards, later listed Grade I and described by English Heritage as the first major work of his career.
The gardens at Orchards, planted by Jekyll, included a sculpture by Lady Chance, who went on to create sculptures for other Lutyens-jekyll gardens, including Marshcourt at Stockbridge, Hampshire.
Twenty years later, it was only natural that the Chances should call on their favourite architect to ‘recondition’ the relatively modest, 16th-century manor, built, according to COUNTRY LIFE (December 12, 1931), ‘by skilful hands of unexceptionable materials’
for the Hussey family in the mid 1500s. Originally intended as the dower house to the main manor, which no longer exists, Legh was later used as a farmhouse by the Husseys before being restored as a gentleman’s residence by their successors, the Sergison family, who sold it to the Chances in 1917.
Generally speaking, the house had been well cared for by its various occupants for more than three centuries and Lutyens was the first to appreciate the standard of craftsmanship evident throughout the building.
Country Life applauded his decision to ‘leave all existing work intact, instead adding to the exterior of the building and on its more hidden sides as inconspicuously as possible such modern adjuncts as were required for bathrooms, kitchen service and heating plant’.
Originally built on a traditional H-plan of a central hall with wings, the main structure has remained largely unaltered apart from the early addition of a south porch and the infilling of the space between the eastern sides of the H to create a spacious new chamber on each floor, with a bedroom above.
A few important changes also took place internally, probably not long after the house was built. These included the division of the upper floor, originally laid out as a single long gallery or solar, into two chambers and a central vestibule. Otherwise, the inte- rior has changed little, although Lutyens had the level of the light and airy entrance hall lowered to provide more headroom, to dramatic effect.
Wishing to ensure the permanent protection of the property, Lady Chance passed the manor, with its trademark Jekyll gardens and a useful acreage of farmland, to the Sussex Archaeological Society following her husband’s death in 1935. The house and grounds were opened to the public in 1936, but were sold off by the society in the 1980s. Since then, Legh Manor, listed Grade II, has had two further careful owners, each of whom has improved the property in subtle but significant ways. In its present incarnation, the timeless Sussex manor house, set in 27 acres of gardens, grounds, woodland and paddocks, offers a reception hall, three main reception rooms, a kitchenbreakfast room opening onto a large wraparound conservatory, six bedrooms, three family bathrooms and several secondfloor rooms suitable for conversion.
Outbuildings include a gym, a workshop and a three/four-bedroom converted barn with an integral garage and a games room.
Across the West Sussex county border into Hampshire, pretty villages within easy reach of Winchester are coming back into
their own, says George Clarendon of Knight Frank (01962 850333), who’s handling the sale, at a guide price of £3.95m, of the classically proportioned, Grade Ii*-listed Dymoke House at Easton in the Itchen Valley, 3.7 miles from the heart of the cathedral city.
Set in two acres of gorgeous gardens overlooking the church in the centre of the village, the house takes its name from Henry Dymocke, a gentleman farmer who bought the original small timber-framed house in 1662 and whose family lived there for almost 100 years. Built in about 1650, it was enlarged between 1784 and 1792 by yeoman farmer David Harfield, who added an extension incorporating two panelled rooms and clad the original front and side walls with facing stones from the former rectory, demolished in the 1780s.
In 1819, army surgeon John Preston bought the house, changed the front to the north side and added the porch and basement kitchen. Harriet Emma Davison and her family owned it from 1875 until 1927, after which it passed to tea-planter Bache Thornhill Heathcote, who built the extension on the east side. In 1954, Commander Edward Douglas Symes RN bought the property and extensively renovated the house, cottages and other buildings.
Impeccably refurbished by the present owners, who have lived there for some 30 years, Dymoke House offers 5,425sq ft of living space on three floors, including three main reception rooms, a vast kitchen/ breakfast room, five/six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The converted Dymoke Barn provides a further two bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen/diner.
During their tenure, the natural amphitheatre of the gardens has been the venue for the biennial Glynde Easton opera concert in aid of Itchen Valley Churches.
Still in the Itchen Valley, Grade Ii-listed Martyr Worthy Manor stands in 36 acres of lovely private gardens, pasture and woodland, on rising ground to the north of the 12th-century parish church and, overlooking the river, four miles from Winchester.
Fresh to the market through Savills (01962 840081) at a guide price of £6.25m, the classic, 7,637sq ft, late-18th-century house was built in 1790, when it was the combined rectory and manor house. Two wings were added in the 19th century, when Sir Henry Rivers was rector, although the extensive gardens date mainly from the 20th century and include herbaceous borders, grass areas under-sown with spring bulbs, yew hedges, a swimming pool and a tennis court.
The manor comes with a well-screened courtyard of traditional outbuildings, including a one-bedroom cottage and its adjoining two-bedroom coach house.
Remodelled a number of times, the manor has been the subject of comprehensive renovation and improvement by its current owners, who have added a substantial Georgian wing that sits perfectly with the original house. It now offers superb family accommodation on three floors, including three/four reception rooms, a sun room, a large kitchen/dining/family room, a splendid master suite, seven further bedrooms and five bath/shower rooms.
Sir Edwin Lutyens was brought in to ‘recondition’ the charming late-tudor Legh Manor, at Cuckfield in West Sussex. £3.7m
In the heart of the village of Easton in Hampshire’s Itchen Valley, Dymoke House plays host to its own charity opera festival. £3.95m
Handsome Martyr Worthy Manor, at Martyr Worthy in Hampshire, stands in 36 acres of gardens, pasture and woodland. £6.25m