The house that love built
Bickerton House is a home filled with love, a feeling that’s apparent the moment you step inside Cheshire Life: January 2019 Cheshire Life: January 2019
Ron and Anne Morris have lived at Bickerton House, in the tiny village of Bickerton near Chomondeley, since 2006, having spotted it in Cheshire Life.
‘We had just completed the rebuild and renovations of the period property we lived in in Marford, near Rossett,’ Ron says. ‘I came home from work and Anne greeted me with a drink and the words “I’ve been shopping.”
‘It was early February,’ Anne tells me. ‘I was reading Cheshire Life and I saw a line drawing of the house, which was still under construction. I was so excited, I had to go immediately to see it.’
Ron adds: ‘Anne was born in Peckforton, just a few miles away. Her grandfather was a gamekeeper for Lord Tollemache at Peckforton Castle.
‘She had always wanted to live in this part of the world, but houses come on the market very rarely.’
‘When I arrived I found a half-built property up a driveway filled with rubble,’ Anne says. ‘I walked into the entrance of the house and felt so emotional – this
was exactly where I wanted to be. I brought Ron here the very next day. We bought it and moved in on June 6th. At the same time we were completing on a home in the South of France, so I ended up kitting out two houses at the same time!’
The influence of their Cannes home is clear in every room of Bickerton House. Softly coloured wooden floors throughout are complimented by a muted palette of calming shades of creams and taupes.
Everywhere you look there are indications of the romance that fills this house; love hearts are to be found in abundance.
‘When we moved in, the floors downstairs were all marble tiled,’ Ron tells me. ‘We had it all replaced with Tedd Todd wooden floors, made bespoke for us in the exact colour we wanted. We also redesigned the layout of the master suite.’
Anne says: ‘The day after Ron retired he was knocking down walls and ripping off tiles. We took it all apart and designed a new one exactly the way we wanted it.’
Ron adds that they changed the layout: ‘There was a corridor at right angles to the landing, which you entered through a central door, and then run three doors off that into the bedroom, bathroom and dressing room.
‘We closed off that door, opened up the corridor and made
a single entry into the master bedroom, with the bathroom and dressing room leading off from there.’
It’s a gorgeous space, I have to say. The bathroom is fivestar-hotel-luxurious while the dressing room allows for a serious shoe collection…bliss.
When this lovely couple bought Bickerton House it came with its very own detached gym.
‘It didn’t make sense to us to have a gym there,’ says Anne. ‘It was too hot! We decided to convert it to a three-bedroom cottage. We moved the gym to our basement, which the builder had planned as a media room.’
Once they had this sorted, Ron looked around for his next project.
‘The house sits in a 1.2 acre plot,’ he says, ‘and so we bought the field next door to protect our environment and our views.’
Anne added: ‘This gave me the
“It’s a gorgeous space. The bathroom is five-star-hotel-luxurious”
opportunity to do something I had never done before...to own horses! We knew we wouldn’t be riding, of course, so we decided on miniature horses and bought three six month old Falabellas. A year later we bought another horse, but we needed some help to keep the grass down, so we then added five Jacob sheep.’
Ron laughs: ‘I suddenly had to learn about a whole new thing – fencing.’
One gets the impression that the lucky Anne only has to smile at her husband and he capitulates on her every whim, from houses to horses. It’s definitely a relationship based on a mutual love and I ask how long they’ve been together.
‘We met when we were 12,’ says Anne. ‘We dated for two weeks when we were at school, but then that was that. Ron left at 16 to join the merchant navy and when he came home a year later we met again. I was still at school then. The following January we started dating again and have been together ever since. We’re joined at the hip – we just get on.’
Not satisfied yet, with his field and his horses and his sheep and his fences, Ron decided he needed to own the woodland behind the house, too.
‘We were walking in the woodland above the house and I wondered if we could buy that too,’ he says. ‘It belonged to the Egertons. It took me 12 months to convince them; I called the estate office every Monday morning to ask the question – and eventually they said yes. Then we started to negotiate. I look after it all and keep the paths clear – our little dog Mika is very low to the ground and gets stuck in the leaves!
‘To celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary I bought 45 red hearts and attached them to 45 trees throughout the wood; they’re all still there.’
Ron and Anne have had a busy life. After leaving the navy, Ron worked in the oil industry and they lived four years in Bahrain before returning to the UK, where Ron established a computer business, which he sold just a matter of weeks before the
financial world went horribly wrong in 2008.
‘Our life has progressed in quite defined stages,’ says Anne, ‘and now we’ve decided, after much soul searching, that we’re ready to move on to the next stage and put this house on the market.
‘Ron will be 70 next year, I have dodgy knees – and we’re both perfectionists. We like everything just so.
‘We clear the field and muck out the horses every day. Ron keeps on top of the woodland and the garden himself. But it’s just getting too much for us to keep it the way we like it.
‘We’re in no hurry to sell, though. We’re not under pressure, but we’d prefer to move while it’s not too traumatic an experience. We don’t want to leave it until we’re 80! We haven’t even got a preference as to where we move, we just know that we want another new build.’
Wherever Ron and Anne find themselves, you can be sure it will involve hearts and flowers all day long, in another house built with love. Bickerton House is for sale through Strutt & Parker Chester. Guide price £2,700,000 struttandparker.com Tel: 01244 354872