Great houses to grow up in

The right home is cru­cial for happy fam­i­lies, with plenty of room to live and play

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

AT the height of the coun­try-house boom of the mid 1980s, a glam­orous young cou­ple with the world at their feet turned off the A303 to­wards the Chutes, a group of small ru­ral ham­lets on the Hamp­shire-wilt­shire bor­der, some seven miles north-west of An­dover. They had come to view se­cluded Standen House at Chute Standen—at a time when out­siders were still some­thing of a nov­elty in this quiet coun­try back­wa­ter.

Hav­ing over­shot the well-dis­guised en­trance to the es­tate, they stopped in Lower Chute to en­quire of a gen­tle­man who was qui­etly prun­ing his roses where they might find Standen House. ‘Are you from Lon­don?’ he asked and, on hear­ing that they were, added abruptly, ‘in that case, I’m not telling you’ and car­ried on with his prun­ing. Un­daunted, the pair re­traced their steps and soon found the house, which they in­stantly fell in love with and bought, de­spite it be­ing in gen­er­ally poor con­di­tion.

Now, 31 golden years on, hav­ing com­pletely trans­formed the im­pos­ing, 14,768sq ft coun­try house, sur­rounded by some 41 acres of im­mac­u­late gar­dens, pad­docks, park­land and wood­land, they’re re­luc­tant down­siz­ers and idyl­lic Standen House, listed Grade II, is on the mar­ket at a guide price of ‘ex­cess £10 mil­lion’ through Knight Frank (020– 7861 1078) and Strutt & Parker (020–7318 5190).

The old­est part of the house is a 17th­cen­tury build­ing erected on the site of an ear­lier farm­house, to which was added a par­al­lel red-brick range in the mid 1700s, with a full-height bow win­dow added on the gabled east wall later that cen­tury. The orig­i­nal build­ing was re­shaped in the early 1800s, when it was raised to three storeys,

em­bel­lished with a ped­i­ment, and be­came the cen­tre of the present clas­si­cally sym­met­ri­cal, Georgian nine-bay façade.

A north-west wing, with a ball­room on the ground floor, was tacked on in the late 1800s, pos­si­bly by Capt Fre­ville Cook­son, who bought the es­tate be­tween 1895 and 1899.

In the course of a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion in 1986–87, un­sightly Vic­to­rian ex­ten­sions were de­mol­ished to the de­light of even the plan­ners and the in­te­rior was clev­erly re­con­fig­ured to al­low the main down­stairs rooms to flow effortlessly around the cen­tral re­cep­tion hall. They in­clude a large west­fac­ing draw­ing room, an el­e­gant mir­ror­im­age din­ing room, a large games/mu­sic room and a stylish kitchen/break­fast room —the lat­ter up­graded to 21st-cen­tury stan­dards some five years ago.

Up­stairs, a large, south-west fac­ing master suite over­looks the gar­den and grounds, with the rest of the first floor taken up by two guest suites, two fur­ther bed­rooms and two fam­ily bath­rooms. The sec­ond floor pro­vides three fur­ther bed­rooms, two sit­ting rooms and two bath­rooms. New fit­tings, in­clud­ing a late-17th-cen­tury-style oak stair­case, were in­tro­duced through­out and the east wing con­verted to a gym­na­sium and garag­ing, with two first-floor stud­ies and an es­tate of­fice.

Nor was in­spi­ra­tion lack­ing when it came to the out­doors, where the beau­ti­fully main­tained grounds have been a source of joy over the years. The for­mal gar­dens in­clude two walled gar­dens: one thatched, with lawns, herba­ceous bor­ders, rose beds and a rose walk lead­ing to the swim­ming pool and the other a knot gar­den with clipped box hedg­ing, a veg­etable gar­den and walls of es­paliered fruit trees. To the north and west of the house is a wa­ter gar­den with a stream and a wa­ter­fall flow­ing into the pond.

For the past 30-odd years, life at Standen House has re­volved around horses, so it has eques­trian fa­cil­i­ties that are sec­ond to none. These in­clude a pris­tine sta­ble yard with not a wisp of hay in sight, a full-size, shel­tered out­door manège and nine po­stand-railed pad­docks pro­tected by a large belt of trees along the western and north­ern bor­ders of the es­tate. How­ever, per­haps most ap­peal­ing of all, in this era of mon­ster farm ma­chin­ery and un­car­ing driv­ers, is the net­work of bri­dle­ways lead­ing di­rectly off the es­tate into miles of rolling coun­try- side, where three gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily have en­joyed rid­ing out to­gether, come rain or shine.

‘I can’t think of a bet­ter house to grow up in,’ says Mark Rimell of Strutt & Parker of Georgian, Grade Ii-listed Cul­ver, which is sur­rounded by 52 acres of dreamy lawned gar­dens, wa­ter mead­ows and wood­land on the edge of the his­toric east Hert­ford­shire vil­lage of Much Had­ham, five miles from Bishop’s Stort­ford and 30 miles from cen­tral Lon­don. The agents quote a guide price of £4.675m for the es­tate as a whole, the heart of which is the im­pres­sive 18th-cen­tury house, which, ac­cord­ing to its list­ing, was ex­tended to the north in the early 19th cen­tury and com­pletely refaced in white stucco in the late 1800s.

A syl­van oa­sis of calm within 40 min­utes of Liver­pool Street sta­tion from Bishop’s

Stort­ford, the main house is ap­proached by a long, tree-lined drive that leads through park­land run­ning down to the banks of the River Ash. Beau­ti­fully main­tained and dec­o­rated by the present own­ers, whose cher­ished fam­ily home it has clearly been, Cul­ver boasts more than 10,000sq ft of light and spa­cious liv­ing room, in­clud­ing a grand re­cep­tion hall, a gra­cious 34ft draw­ing room with carved open fire­places at ei­ther end, two fur­ther main re­cep­tion rooms, a large kitchen/break­fast room and 11 bed­rooms on two floors‚the up­per floor be­ing ‘a chil­dren’s par­adise’, ac­cord­ing to Mr Rimell.

The gar­dens are mostly laid to lawn and in­clude, to the north, a lovely, part-walled gar­den with well-stocked bor­ders and an all-weather ten­nis court, with an in­door swim­ming pool nearby. Two pad­docks, some 10 acres in all, pro­vide ex­cel­lent graz­ing for horses and ponies.

For an al­to­gether more rugged coun­try life­style, look north to the Der­byshire vil­lage of Hather­sage, in the heart of the Peak District Na­tional Park, where Chris Charl­ton of Sav­ills’ Not­ting­ham of­fice (0115–934 8020) is han­dling the sale of the Shut­tle­worth fam­ily’s pic­turesque, 55-acre Nether Hall es­tate on the banks of the River Der­went, launched in last week’s Coun­try Life at a guide price of £2.5m.

The fam­ily of dis­tin­guished mil­i­tary men in­her­ited the nearby Hather­sage Hall es­tate in the mid 1700s and, since then, seven gen­er­a­tions of Shut­tle­worths have been landown­ers here­abouts. At that time, Hather­sage was a small agri­cul­tural vil­lage sub­sist­ing on cot­tage in­dus­tries mak­ing brass but­tons and wire un­til, in 1750, Henry Cocker har­nessed the wa­ter from the river to power a mill for mak­ing wire. Other mills soon fol­lowed un­til, in the 19th cen­tury, steam re­placed wa­ter power and Hather­sage be­came cov­ered in a per­ma­nent pall of smoke. This even­tu­ally led the Shut­tle­worths to build Nether Hall down by the river to the south of the vil­lage in about 1840. Built of the lo­cal grit­stone un­der a slate roof, Nether Hall, listed Grade II, in­cor­po­rates the re­mains of an ear­lier 17th-cen­tury house on the north side and a strik­ing, three-storey, square tower with its orig­i­nal stone spi­ral stair­case to the south of the main door­way.

De­signed to take full ad­van­tage of the views, the house of­fers 7,184sq ft of liv­ing space, in­clud­ing four main re­cep­tion rooms, a large kitchen/break­fast room, a Vic­to­rian bil­liard room, seven bed­rooms and a first­floor stu­dio.

Idyl­lic Standen House at Chute Standen on the Hamp­shire-wilt­shire bor­der has been clev­erly re­designed for fam­ily life. ‘Ex­cess £10m’

The house sits in 41 acres of im­mac­u­late grounds with su­perb eques­trian fa­cil­i­ties

‘I can’t think of a bet­ter house to grow up in’: clas­si­cal Cul­ver at Much Had­ham in Hert­ford­shire is a ‘chil­dren’s par­adise’. £4.675m

In the same fam­ily since the mid 1700s, Nether Hall sits on the banks of the River Der­went at Hather­sage in Der­byshire. £2.5m

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