Country houses are often launched on the market to catch either bonus money early in the year or those looking to move before the summer. However, circumstances or owner preference can lead to some interesting houses being given a promotional push in the autumn (usually through Country Life magazine) to catch those who fancy Christmas in front a different log fire. So, here’s a quick round-up of some of the better country houses currently for sale.
Easily one of the most impressive houses is one that has always been a sign for me that I’m nearly home when travelling back to Devon on the train. Just outside Exeter is the beautiful grade-II* listed Upton Pynes, which, despite the very English sounding name, bears a striking resemblance to a French chateau. Built c.1700 by Hugh Stafford with very sympathetic later additions, this large but elegant house sits in a commanding position in the Exe Valley, perfectly positioned to catch the sun throughout the day, giving the red-brick façades a warm glow. Described by Pevsner as “…an excellent example of the stately double-pile house that became popular after the Restoration but is relatively rare in Devon.”, the interior features a particularly grand entrance hall created as part of alterations in 1852 by the architect Ambrose Poynter for Sir Stafford Henry Northcote (later the Earl of Iddesleigh). The main interiors of the house, including an enfilade of rooms on the south front and a notable library, largely dates from 1700. The house also has the claim that it was the one Jane Austen had in mind when describing ‘Barton House’ in ‘Sense & Sensibility’. The house still requires some restoration but will definitely reward whoever completes this grand project.
> More information: ‘Upton Pynes, Devon‘ £3.25m, 37-acres [Savills]
Sometimes a grand house designed by an interesting architect can remarkably remain unlisted, as is the case with the Edwardian Crendle Court in Dorset which was designed by Walter H. Brierley (b.1862 – d.1926) who has been described as ‘the Yorkshire Lutyens’. A prolific architect, he designed over 300 buildings including schools, churches and several country houses including the elegant neo-Georgian Sion Hill Hall in Yorkshire. Brierley was a versatile architect able to work successfully in various styles though with a preference for ‘Wrenaissance’ – a modern re-working of the architectural language of Sir Christopher Wren. Crendle Court was built in 1909 and features elaborate ornamental plasterwork in the main reception rooms by George Bankart, and sits, well, more luxuriates, in 270-acres of grounds. Considering the architect and the quality English Heritage ought to send someone round to evaluate and spot list it before it gets ruined by someone with more money than taste.
> More information: ‘Crendle Court, Dorset‘ £6.95m, 270-acres [Savills]
Other significant houses available were launched earlier but are now being promoted following price cuts. One such house is the grade-II* listed Rudby Hall in Yorkshire, which was originally given a guide price of £3.5m but now is offered at £2.75m. Designed by Anthony Salvin in 1838 for the 10th Viscount Falkland, who originally called it Leven Grove, but by the late 19th-century it was known as Skutterskelfe Hall before being given its present name by the company which owned it in the 1990s. The house was restored in the 1980s and comprises the main house but with the ancillary buildings converted into let accommodation bringing in a handy £50,000 p/a – so long as you don’t mind sharing your gardens, grounds and woodlands with them.
> More information: ‘Rudby Hall, Yorkshire‘ £2.75m, 10-acres [Carter Jonas]
For those who fancy something more baronial, then Blairquhan Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland may be perfect. The core of the property is a tower house built in 1346 but was later given a new front by William Burn in 1820-24 to provide the imposing if slightly stern façade we see today. The estate was noted for it beauty with Lord Cockburn writing in 1844: “I rose early…and surveyed the beauties of Blairquhan. It deserves its usual praises. A most gentleman-like place rich in all sorts of attractions – of wood, lawn, river, gardens, hill, agriculture and pasture.”. What more could a squire desire?
> More information: ‘Blairquhan Castle, Scotland‘ £4.85m, 670-acres [Savills]
Most of these houses seem to be with Savills so to even things up, and to include a house I’m surprised hasn’t sold already, is Beaurepaire in Hampshire. The house was featured on the blog in more detail (‘Phoenix for sale: Beaurepaire House, Hampshire‘) when it was first launched in June this year. The house is what remains after a devastating fire in 1942 destroyed the main block of the house, leaving the current service wing which was extensively refurbished and remodelled after WWII to give the elegant house which is for sale today. Approached down a long drive, what guest couldn’t fail to be impressed by the wonderful gates designed by Sir John Soane which guard the entrance over the moat? Sitting in a 250-acre estate, the £8m price tag is probably justified for the area – and the owner is apparently in no rush to sell so don’t expect any big price cut soon.
> More information: ‘Beaurepaire, Hampshire‘ £8m, 250-acres [Knight Frank]