The cap­ti­vat­ing Cotswolds

From Cider with Rosie coun­try to be­guil­ing wooded val­leys, the area still en­chants, with some agents en­joy­ing their busiest sum­mer in years

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

DE­SPITE the triple whammy of Brexit, the Gen­eral Election fi­asco and the im­mov­able stum­bling block of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), coun­try­house buy­ers cur­rently out­num­ber sell­ers in the Cotswolds by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin, says Atty Beor-roberts of Knight Frank in Cirences­ter.

‘Not sur­pris­ingly, the coun­try-house mar­ket went quiet in May and June, then sud­denly took off in July and Au­gust, with a 15%–20% year-on-year in­crease in the num­ber of prospec­tive buy­ers from London and over­seas and a 60% in­crease in those from ma­jor UK busi­ness cen­tres such as Birm­ing­ham, Bris­tol, Cardiff, Read­ing and Swin­don,’ he re­veals. ‘In­ter­est­ingly, our busi­ness has been liveli­est for houses be­tween £2 mil­lion and £4 mil­lion in the north Cotswolds, rather than in the more fa­mil­iar south Cotswolds hotspots around Cirences­ter.’

His view is backed up by Damian Gray of the firm’s Ox­ford of­fice, who main­tains that the city of dream­ing spires is now the first port of call for cos­mopoli­tan London and over­seas fam­i­lies look­ing to set­tle out­side the cap­i­tal. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Gray, they look first at the Ox­ford area for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, among them easy ac­cess to London by road and rail, a so­phis­ti­cated cul­tural, sport­ing and coun­try life­style and even prox­im­ity to the de­lights of Dayles­ford and Soho Farm­house. How­ever, for over­seas and na­tional par­ents alike, the main goal is usu­ally to find their dream house close to the prepara­tory or public school of their choice, from among the many high-achiev­ing es­tab­lish­ments that are scat­tered through­out the Cotswolds.

Such con­sid­er­a­tions will no doubt have played a part in the re­cent sale of two of the area’s most charm­ing coun­try prop­er­ties.

The ex­quis­ite, Grade Ii-listed Even­lode House, Glouces­ter­shire, ad­ver­tised in Coun­try Life in May as hav­ing 6.4 acres of gar­dens and grounds, 2½ miles from Dayles­ford, three miles from Stow-on-the-wold and 27 miles from Ox­ford, found a buyer at £5m in June through Knight Frank and Strutt & Parker. Then, in July, the lat­ter agent ex­changed con­tracts at £6.2m on the pris­tine, private Cradle House Farm with 27 acres of land at Wig­gin­ton, Ox­ford­shire, 3½ miles from Soho Farm­house, nine miles from Ban­bury and 22 miles from Ox­ford.

Fol­low­ing the un­ex­pected late burst of sum­mer ac­tiv­ity, even houses that had lin­gered on the mar­ket for some time have found new own­ers. Con­se­quently, com­pe­ti­tion among new buy­ers for the few re­ally good houses be­ing launched this au­tumn is likely to be in­tense.

Knight Frank in Ox­ford (01865 790077) is han­dling the sale, at a guide price of £4.25m, of Grade Ii*-listed Cross Hill House at Ad­der­bury, Ox­ford­shire, 3½ miles from Ban­bury, 11 miles from Soho Farm­house and 18 miles from Ox­ford (about an hour by train from London Maryle­bone).

A strik­ing, edge-of-vil­lage house, the im­pos­ing struc­ture is de­scribed in Coun­try

Life (Jan­uary 14, 1949) as ‘an early dou­ble­fronted stone house to which has been ap­plied a three-storeyed Ge­or­gian façade, ter­mi­nat­ing in great solid pi­lasters’; its His­toric Eng­land list­ing refers to a large, mid-18th-cen­tury house in the mid-ge­or­gian style, prob­a­bly in­cor­po­rat­ing ear­lier fea­tures, built of ‘marl­stone ash­lar’ un­der a Welsh slate roof and al­tered in the early 19th cen­tury.

In terms both of its vil­lage sta­tus and the pro­por­tions of its principal rooms, this is a big house in ev­ery sense, with a to­tal of 9,127sq ft of in­ter­nal space, in­clud­ing the con­verted three-bed­room coach house, which is ac­ces­si­ble both from its own ground-floor level and from the first floor of the main house. The base­ment pro­vides an­other 1,452sq ft of cel­lars, cur­rently ar­ranged as four rooms.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion, laid out on three floors and lit­tle al­tered since it was bought by the present owner 50 years ago, is also ex­tremely gen­er­ous, com­pris­ing three large re­cep­tion rooms, a first-floor study, four bed­room suites, three fur­ther bed­rooms and two fam­ily bath­rooms—the whole lit to the front by rows of full-height south­fac­ing sash win­dows. The house stands in al­most six acres of for­mal and in­for­mal gar­dens and grounds, in­clud­ing two Vic­to­rian walled gar­dens.

‘At present, when buy­ers see some­thing they like, they ask them­selves “how long will we have to wait for some­thing else like this to be­come avail­able?” and they just go for it,’ says Giles Law­ton of Strutt & Parker’s Ox­ford of­fice (01865 366660), who quotes a guide price of £2.5 mil­lion for el­e­gant, Grade Ii-listed Broad Close at Church En­stone, Ox­ford­shire, three miles from Great Tew and Soho Farm­house, 4.8 miles from Chip­ping Nor­ton and 15 miles from cen­tral Ox­ford.

Built in the early and late 18th cen­tury in the clas­sic Ge­or­gian style, Broad Close was re­cently iden­ti­fied in the press as the house ‘directly op­po­site’ the vicarage that was the child­hood home of Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May dur­ing her fa­ther’s 12-year stint as vicar. It stands in 1.7 acres of mainly walled gar­dens on the edge of this quiet Ox­ford­shire vil­lage, sur­rounded by rolling coun­try­side and close to Heythrop Park.

It offers 3,800sq ft of liv­ing space, in­clud­ing three main re­cep­tion rooms, a kitchen/ break­fast room, four bed­rooms and four bath­rooms.

The short­age of new coun­try houses com­ing to the mar­ket in the Cotswolds has forced buy­ing agent Rob Fan­shawe of Prop­erty Vi­sion to ven­ture fur­ther and fur­ther west in his search for prop­er­ties that meet the de­mands of his in­creas­ingly frus­trated clien­tele. One re­cent en­trant that has caught his eye is the ‘sub­lime’, Grade IIlisted Green Close in the pretty vil­lage of Snow­shill, Glouces­ter­shire, which sits high up on the Cotswold es­carp­ment above the lovely stone vil­lage of Broad­way and is widely re­garded as one of the most idyl­lic places to live in the north Cotswolds.

De­scribed by Mr Fan­shawe as ‘charm­ing be­yond belief’, Green Close is be­ing launched in this week’s Coun­try Life, at a guide price of £3.8m through Sav­ills in Stow-on-the­wold (01451 832832). Owned by the fam­ily of the cur­rent ven­dors for al­most 100 years and rel­a­tively lit­tle al­tered dur­ing that time, Green Close ex­udes the au­then­tic ‘old world’ at­mos­phere so rarely found in the Cotswolds these days. Set in some 21 acres of ter­raced gar­dens, woods, lake and an­cient pas­ture, it en­joys breath­tak­ing views over the sur­round­ing quintessen­tially English land­scape. An article by Avery Tip­ping in Coun­try

Life (Au­gust 21, 1926) re­veals that Green Close was for­merly four 17th-cen­tury cot­tages, re­mod­elled to form one house for Mr H. Peech in about 1916 by the ar­chi­tect C. E. Bate­man, renowned for his sen­si­tive

restora­tion of Cotswold ver­nac­u­lar prop­er­ties. It took great in­ge­nu­ity to trans­form the four cot­tages into one pleas­ing L-shaped build­ing, whose many orig­i­nal fea­tures in­clude great open fire­places, flag­stone floors and mul­lion win­dows, all of which sit com­fort­ably along­side the var­i­ous Arts-and­crafts el­e­ments added by Bate­man.

This un­spoilt Cotswold gem offers 3,563sq ft of liv­ing space, in­clud­ing im­pres­sive, high-ceilinged re­cep­tion and stair­case halls, two/three re­cep­tion rooms, main and sec­ondary kitchens, two bed­rooms suites, three fur­ther bed­rooms and two fam­ily bath/shower rooms. Fur­ther ac­com­mo­da­tion is pro­vided in a pretty, two-bed­room stone cot­tage and a two-storey, con­verted barn. Out­build­ings in­clude stores, a wine cel­lar and a sta­ble yard with four boxes.

‘Tra­di­tion­ally, ev­ery­thing goes quiet in July and, in Au­gust, we won­der if all the phones have been dis­con­nected, but not this year,’ says Sam Troun­son of Strutt & Parker in Cirences­ter (01285 627680), who has ex­pe­ri­enced the busiest two months of his 26-year ca­reer as an agent and has man­fully sur­vived to tell the tale.

The stars of his cur­rent sta­ble of clas­sic Cotswold houses in­clude the un­listed Trill­gate Farm at Pain­swick, near Stroud, in Glouces­ter­shire’s beau­ti­ful Slad Val­ley—the fa­mously mag­i­cal set­ting for Lau­rie Lee’s

Cider with Rosie. For sale at a guide price of £2.5m, the pic­turesque, 17th-cen­tury stone farm­house was pre­vi­ously owned by the fash­ion de­signer and au­thor Cath Kid­ston, who sold it to the present ven­dors. It stands in 2.2 acres of beau­ti­ful gar­dens and grounds in a won­der­fully private set­ting over­look­ing the val­ley and has 3,337sq ft of un­ex­pect­edly spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tion inc- lud­ing three re­cep­tion rooms, a kitchen/ break­fast room, five bed­rooms and four bath­rooms; fur­ther liv­ing space is pro­vided in a for­mer barn, which has been clev­erly con­verted to a huge open-plan stu­dio.

‘Buy­ers who de­spair of ever find­ing their dream coun­try house in the Cotswolds just need to be pa­tient, be­cause nowa­days most fam­ily houses tend to de­volve back onto the mar­ket ev­ery 5–7 years,’ said Mr Be­orRoberts wisely back in Septem­ber 2013, as he launched pretty, Grade Ii-listed Wil­low­brook House at Low­erdean, eight miles from Stowon-the Wold, onto the mar­ket at a guide price of £4.95 mil­lion. Lo and be­hold, the dreamy, late-17th-cen­tury house, set in an en­chanted wooded val­ley grazed for gen­er­a­tions by the sheep that made the Cotswolds rich, was sold within a month to its present owner, who is mov­ing on, hav­ing fur­ther re­fur­bished the house orig­i­nally re­mod­elled by the leg­endary Rowena Luard.

This time round, Knight Frank (01285 659771) are joint agents with Strutt & Parker (01285 897614) in the sale of the im­mac­u­late, 7,180sq ft house at £4.75m. It boasts 7,180sq ft of well-ar­ranged liv­ing space that in­cludes three main re­cep­tion rooms, an of­fice, a games room, a wine cel­lar, a grand mas­ter suite, six fur­ther bed­rooms and five bath/shower rooms, plus an an­nexe cur­rently used as an of­fice and work­shop.

The house stands in some 11.4 acres of land­scaped gar­dens, or­chards, pad­docks and wood­land, with ameni­ties in­clud­ing a gym, two sta­bles and a four-bay garage.

Edge-of-vil­lage Cross Hill House at Ad­der­bury in Ox­ford­shire is a big house in ev­ery sense and stands in al­most six acres of grounds, in­clud­ing two Vic­to­rian walled gar­dens. £4.25m

Clas­sic Even­lode House is just 2½ miles from from Dayles­ford in Glouces­ter­shire and sold for £5m in June

Won­der­fully private Cradle House Farm, with 27 acres of land, at Wig­gin­ton, Ox­ford­shire, ex­changed for £6.2m in July

De­scribed as ‘charm­ing be­yond belief and in one of the most idyl­lic places to live in the Cotswolds’, Green Close in the pretty vil­lage of Snow­shill, Glouces­ter­shire, has been in the same fam­ily for al­most 100 years. £3.8m

El­e­gant Broad Close sits op­po­site the vicarage that was Theresa May’s child­hood home in the vil­lage of Church En­stone in Ox­ford­shire. £2.5m

Dreamy, 17th-cen­tury Wil­low­brook House, at Low­erdean in Glouces­ter­shire, is set in a wooded val­ley and has been re­mod­elled and re­stored to an im­mac­u­late level. £4.75m

Set in Glouces­ter­shire’s Slad val­ley, the mag­i­cal set­ting for Cider with Rosie, Trill­gate Farm at Pain­swick was pre­vi­ously owned by de­signer Cath Kid­ston. £2.5m

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