Still available for sale – the country houses proving difficult to sell

Despite the enthusiasm of the estate agents, it seems that some of the most impressive houses featured in the glossy adverts at the front of Country Life magazine are proving difficult to sell.  Whether this is due to a poor local market or unreasonable prices, or just bad luck, here are a few stunning country houses which are still looking for buyers.

Noseley Hall, Leicestershire (Image: Knight Frank)

Noseley Hall in Leicestershire has been in the family of the present Lord Hazelrigg for nearly 300 years but was put up for sale in April 2009 at a guide price of £14m for the grade-II* listed house plus the 1,200-acre estate.  Built in 1728 on the back of Northumberland coal mining wealth, the house is decorated with works of art (though fewer now following several auctions), and fine plasterwork.  However, Lord Hazelrigg admitted that the estate doesn’t cover the costs of running the house, and so he decided to sell, but it’s still listed on the Knight Frank website – and still with a guide price of £14m.   More details: ‘The last of the romantics‘ [Sunday Times]

Dowdeswell Court (Image from Savills)

Another house which has been for sale is Dowdeswell Court in Gloucestershire which was first advertised in 2005 and then sold for £4.75 but then came back on the market in summer 2009 with a guide price of £7.9m (and was featured in this blog).  When serial restorer James Perkins took on the house it had been a 46-room nursing home resulting in a huge restoration project and since he sold in 2005 has moved on to restoring other country houses including Aynhoe Park.  The grade-II house was built between 1833-35 by local architect Charles Paul of Cheltenham and was originally three storeys but during the 1920s the top storey was neatly removed.  The more manageable house is a beautiful example of neo-Classical detailing combined with modern comforts. The house is available through either Knight Frank or Savills.

Compton Pauncefoot Castle - Somerset (Image: Bidwells)

The final property for this list is the impossibly beautiful Compton Pauncefoot Castle in Somerset which has been for sale since 2006.   Built in 182o, the grade-II listed house sits in a 1,278-acre estate with 40-acres of stunning gardens and lakes.  Originally on the market for £22m, it failed to sell even during the boom years of 2007-8 and despite 20 buying agents being invited to a launch event, and being featured in the The Sunday Times, it’s now being sold at auction – though I suspect the reserve would be near the current price advertised on the agents websites of in excess of £17m.  Perhaps the fact that it’s only for sale as a whole may have put off those who might just want the house and immediate grounds – but this would deny the owner the certainty of privacy that the surrounding estate would bring.  The house is available through Bidwells and Knight Frank (who despite putting it as their lead advert in Country Life this week fail to have it on their website).

So if I won the lottery…Dowdeswell Court

Dowdeswell Court (Image from Savills)
Dowdeswell Court (Image from Savills)

Although many of the stories in this blog are about houses at risk, it should also be noted that, should funds permit, many a fine country house comes up for sale every week via the big agencies such as Knight Frank, Savills, Chestertons etc.  Whilst for most the dream of the large country house is out of reach, the sumptuous photos allow us a brief glimpse of these beautiful buildings. So, watch out for postings of the best of the country houses which have been advertised.

Dowdeswell Court, situated just outside Cheltenham, is an elegant essay in ne0-Classical style.  The estate had been in the Rogers family since 1582 but by the early 1800s the house was so dilapidated that it could only be replaced.  The new house was built in 1833-7, and was designed by a well-respected architect, Charles Paul of Cheltenham, who incorporated the distinctive Corinthian orders and cornicing.  Interestingly though, the final design owes much to the master mason, Thomas Denley, who altered the plans.  The interiors are to the 1830s but have been sympathetically restored.  The house was then sold the now Coxwell-Rodgers family in the 1900s and it then went through a succession of owners and uses including as a school and residential home.  It was from this latter fate that the house was rescued in 2005 and has since been carefully restored.  This truly is a stunning house – a great example of it’s type and conveniently sized and located.

So if you have the requisite £7.9m please do contact Savills and ask for a viewing.  And if you would like someone to carry your bag or something while you do so, please just let me know.

Full details: Dowdeswell Court [Savills]