There goes the neigh­bour­hood

Ev­ery year on Novem­ber 5, we re­mem­ber the Gun­pow­der Plot, but where in Eng­land did the plot­ters come from and have those ar­eas stood the test of time? Eleanor Doughty in­ves­ti­gates

Country Life Every Week - - Property Comment - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata El­wes

AL­MOST ex­actly 413 years ago, with a few days to spare, a group of Catholics set their eyes upon a lofty tar­get: the Houses of Par­lia­ment. The Gun­pow­der Plot­ters—among them Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Thomas and Robert Win­ter and Sir Ever­ard Digby—had come to Lon­don to blow up James I, but they all hailed from else­where in the coun­try.

One of the plot­ters, Thomas Percy, great­grand­son of the 4th Earl of Northum­ber­land, was a for­mer con­sta­ble of Al­nwick Cas­tle, which is, to­day, home to one of the world’s largest wooden tree­houses and the Duchess of Northum­ber­land’s fa­mous Poi­son Gar­den.

Al­nwick it­self, says Sa­muel Gib­son, head of Strutt & Parker’s Mor­peth of­fice (01670 516123) ‘is full of in­de­pen­dent shops and cafes, where young and old mix, giv­ing it an in­clu­sive qual­ity you sel­dom find’.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing per­fectly lo­cated for ac­cess to both New­cas­tle upon Tyne (35 miles by car or 45 min­utes by train) and Ed­in­burgh (87 miles or an hour and a half by train), the old mar­ket town is just off the mighty A1.

The area’s prop­erty mar­ket is thriv­ing, says Mr Gib­son. ‘Buy­ers are still drawn here even when times are tough, be­cause ev­ery­one knows that you can get much more house for your money in the North-east than in the South. The spec­tac­u­lar beaches, the na­tional park, Kielder For­est and the Che­viot Hills com­bine with a life­style that has roots in cen­turies of tra­di­tion—what’s not to love?’

Northum­ber­land isn’t the only county that has bred traitors. The Win­ter broth­ers came from the moated manor of Hud­ding­ton Court, 10 miles from the cathe­dral city of Worces­ter. Worces­ter­shire still has plenty to of­fer, with char­ac­ter prop­er­ties for sale, in­clud­ing the 12-acre, six-bed­room Hon­ey­pot Farm, three miles from Great Malvern sta­tion, on the mar­ket with Al­lan Mor­ris (01684 561411) for £1.5 mil­lion.

The schools are also good. As well as Malvern Col­lege (co-ed), there’s Malvern St James (all girls), both in an AONB, the King’s School Worces­ter and, to the north­west, Ab­ber­ley Hall prep. Of in­ter­est nearby is Madres­field Court, the orig­i­nal Brideshead, and C. F. A. Voy­sey’s Per­rycroft, an Art­sand-crafts house in the Malvern Hills.

In Northamp­ton­shire, Eng­land’s best-kept se­cret (‘The heart of the mat­ter’, Au­gust 9, 2017), sits the vil­lage of Ashby St Ledgers.

They went to Lon­don to blow up James I, but they all hailed from else­where

De­spite its colour­ful past, Catesby’s home Ashby St Ledgers is a quiet vil­lage

Ashby Manor House, the for­mer home of the Catesby fam­ily, was prob­a­bly be­gun in the 1390s and is now avail­able to rent through Airbnb. The lo­cal area is as charm­ing as it comes—on the bor­der of Northamp­ton­shire and War­wick­shire, Ashby St Ledgers is five miles from Daven­try and not far from the lovely vil­lage of Long Buckby. Rugby is seven miles away, with its fa­mous school, and Northamp­ton 20 miles in the other di­rec­tion.

The county is awash with grand houses and good hunt­ing, with the Pytch­ley, the Grafton and the Bices­ter with Whad­don Chase, plus the War­wick­shire on the other side of the bor­der, and lovely walks can be had at Dray­cote Wa­ter reser­voir, not far from the pretty vil­lage of Dunchurch with its thatched cot­tages. House prices are a lit­tle over the na­tional av­er­age: £302,784 in Long Buckby, ac­cord­ing to Zoopla, and a smidge over £500,000 might get you a four-bed­room de­tached house.

‘De­spite its colour­ful past, Ashby St Ledgers is a rel­a­tively quiet vil­lage, with a church and tra­di­tional pub,’ says Ian Cat­tle of Carter Jonas Northamp­ton (01604 321196). Plus, he adds, it’s well con­nected ‘from ei­ther Long Buckby or Rugby, which of­fers com­muters rail links into Eus­ton in un­der an hour’.

Next is Newport Pag­nell in Buck­ing­hamshire, home to Gay­hurst House, some­time seat of the Digby fam­ily. Here, only 60 miles from Lon­don, house prices are higher than in Northum­ber­land (£337,621 ver­sus £237,446 on av­er­age) and there are charm­ing nooks and cran­nies, not least Great Mis­senden, the for­mer home of Roald Dahl, Lit­tle Mis­senden with its Saxon-cum­nor­man church and Ol­ney, which has a vi­brant weekly Thurs­day mar­ket. Newport Pag­nell it­self, only five miles from Mil­ton Keynes Cen­tral rail­way sta­tion, is just 35 min­utes from Lon­don Eus­ton. We’ll see you at the bon­fire.

Un­like the for­tunes of the Gun­pow­der Plot­ters, the places from which they hailed have only risen, with Al­nwick, Worces­ter­shire and Newport Pag­nell all sought af­ter

The Manor at Ashby St Ledgers, Northamp­ton­shire, home of ring­leader Robert Catesby, is where the con­spir­a­tors reg­u­larly gath­ered to plot their trea­son. It is now avail­able to rent through Airbnb. Af­ter Catesby’s death, his head was mounted on the House of Com­mons

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