Classy con­vert

Daily Express - - Express Property - By An­drea Wat­son

AMONG grand con­ver­sions, few can top Sway­lands, a fan­tas­tic foible in the heart of Kent built and ex­tended by a se­ries of suc­cess­ful Vic­to­ri­ans.

Whereas some ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ments never quite make the tran­si­tion from pub­lic build­ing to mod­ern apart­ments – this is par­tic­u­larly true in the case of re­li­gious build­ings – Sway­lands has a his­tory of en­ter­tain­ment and fun which still per­me­ates the at­mos­phere.

The con­ver­sion by Oak­dene Homes of this fa­mous house near Pen­shurst into 28 two and three-bed­room apart­ments and six houses gives own­ers the chance to taste a unique piece of Bri­tish his­tory.

Built in 1842, the house has had an im­pres­sive list of own­ers, start­ing with William Woodgate who de­signed Sway­lands as a smaller ver­sion of his fam­ily’s home. Mr Woodgate, a Deputy Lieu­tenant for the county of Kent, liked to hold lav­ish par­ties at the es­tate.

Af­ter sell­ing Sway­lands to Liver­pool busi­ness­man Ed­ward Crop­per in 1859, the grounds and house were ex­tended. When Mr Crop­per died, Lon­don banker Ge­orge James Drum­mond pur­chased the es­tate and Sway­lands’ rep­u­ta­tion as a place for lav­ish en­ter­tain­ment was born.

Mr Drum­mond’s cir­cle in­cluded the Prince of Wales, King Ed­ward VII and Queen Mary, the wife of Ge­orge V, au­thor J M Bar­rie and an­other fa­mous writer of the pe­riod, John Buchan, mark­ing the house as a fo­cal point for English so­ci­ety.

Mr Drum­mond dou­bled the size of the house and also land­scaped the gar­dens while pur­chas­ing more land. In the end the Sway­lands es­tate grew to some 900 acres.

The house was also the in­spi­ra­tion for the ti­tle to one of the most fa­mous nov­els of the English lan­guage, Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps, orig­i­nally a flight of sand­stone steps in the grounds.

When Mr Drum­mond died in 1917, the prop­erty passed into the hands of a ad­viser to King Ed­ward VII, Sir Ed­ward Cas­sell. It be­came a mil­i­tary hospi­tal dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and later an ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ment for boys be­fore ly­ing va­cant for 14 years.

Ann Fulker, Oak­dene Homes’ sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, said: “The Sway­lands es­tate is a spec­tac­u­lar place to live and com­bines ev­ery­thing from high spec­i­fi­ca­tion to stun­ning grounds.”

Prices at Sway­lands start from £499,950 for a two-bed­room apart­ment. Prices for a house in the new-build Clock­house Mews start from £479,950. IN­FOR­MA­TION:

Oak­dene Homes: 01737 249393/ www.sway­

SWAY­ING OPIN­ION: The stun­ning Vic­to­rian con­ver­sion set in 900 acres

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