Country Life Autumn / Winter 2016


New Build and Development Special






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The grit that makes the pearl

Shilstone House, Devon. The home of Sebastian and Lucy Fenwick

A small farm in an intimate Devon valley has been brilliantly transformed into a new

country house. John Goodall explains the story behind this remarkable project

Photographs by Paul Highnam

IT’S not easy to find Shilstone,

but for the traveller who successfully

navigates the deep lanes

that lace the rolling countryside

around Modbury in Devon, there

is a remarkable treat in store. Nestled

in the head of a narrow valley, the first

impression is of a long-established

country house with a broad main front

flanked to either side by a walled garden

and a cluster of farm buildings

(Fig 1). As we shall discover, there

is historical depth to this site, but the

bulk of the house is of modern design

and erected since 2000.

In the early 1990s, Sebastian Fenwick

was living at Puslinch, Devon, a fine

Georgian country house. An enthusiast

for architecture, however, he had a longstanding

ambition to build a new house

following in the footsteps of his grand-

mother, Violet Fenwick, who, with Sir

Edwin Lutyens, created Temple Dinsley

(COUNTRY LIFE, April 22, 1911).

Armed with a collection of Ordnance

Survey maps, he spent many years

doing what he cheerfully describes

as ‘trespassing’ in search of a private

Devon valley. In 1997, and by now

married to Lucy, he finally purchased

one of the sites he had identified, the

valley and farm of what had become

known as Shilston Barton.

In the light of Mr Fenwick’s research

into the landscape, and during the

course of preparations for creating the

new house, the site as a whole yielded

a fascinating story. The Fenwicks

recognised the potential for something

perhaps even more intriguing than

they had first anticipated: a newly

commissioned house in a Classical

idiom that could draw on the history

of the site. The existing farmhouse

might not be of outstanding architectural

importance, but it could become

the basis for its successor. It was—in

short—grit that could make a pearl.

Investigation demonstrated that the

history of human occupation within

the valley was very deep. An Iron Age

enclosure of the 1st century BC was

discovered in the area of the walled

garden and, beneath the house itself, the

remains of a late-14th-century building,

presumably the seat of the manor

documented here since Domesday.

The construction of this manor house

may be connected with the passage

of the property in about 1390

to the Hill—or Hull—family, part

of a dynasty of West Country lawyers.

They subsequently adapted

Fig 1 above:

The new

house and the

farm buildings

beyond. The

original surviving


of the 1800

house is to the

far right of the

main façade. Its

outline is faintly

visible in the

colour of the


Fig 2: Viewed

from above, the

house is set

against an

intimate and

enclosed Devon


Clearly visible

here are the

drawing room’s

mullion and transom


the building in the later Middle Ages.

Perhaps the most remarkable finds

related to the development of Shilstone

by the Savery family from

Totnes, who had purchased the

property by 1614. The survey and

clearance of the setting revealed the

extensive remains of terraces and

gardens around the house. These

spread across the natural amphitheatre

at the head of the valley and

incorporated a series of pools, water

courses, rills and cascades descending

along its length from an arched grotto.

This last is, in fact, an adapted water

theatre, an Italianate garden feature

formerly with a frieze of decorative

figures executed in plaster. There is

also a walled garden with a gazebo

tower and raised walkway to the rear.

The development of the gardens is

not documented, but one figure presumably

involved in their creation

was Servington Savery, who lived

A 1st-century BC

Iron Age enclosure

was discovered

in the walled


at Shilstone all his life from the 1670s

to the 1740s. A descendant described

him in a family history of 1809 as a ‘man

of a studious turn of mind, and of retired

habits: amusing himself in philosophical

pursuits’. His interests included

researches into magnetism, which attracted

the attention of the Royal Society.

It is an intriguing possibility that an

elder cousin of Servington might also

have helped lay out the series of lakes

down the length of the valley. Thomas

Savery was born at Shilstone in about

1650, became a military engineer and

then—through his interest in Devon

mining and the problems of draining

pits—invented a machine for raising

water using steam pressure. He secured

the post of surveyor to the waterworks

at Hampton Court in 1714, the

year before he died.

An anonymous watercolour of about

1810 depicts the house as it must ➢

have been familiar to both these men.

It shows a rambling building with

a central medieval hall that is entered

through a tower porch. To the right

of the hall are modest service buildings

and, to the left, a large Jacobean

block with three gables.

Between about 1810 and 1813, this

ancient building was completely recast.

The new house was planned with at least

two regular façades of two storeys to

the south and east. There is no record

of the completed building. It was sold

in 1820 and came into the hands of

Thomas Collins-Splatt. Soon after

1824—and certainly by 1840—he

largely demolished the house. Excavation

of the site suggests that the

new building was erected on a poorly

prepared site and the walls suffered

from subsidence.

The remains of the building were

patched up as a farmhouse. This comprised

the full extent of the east front,

five window bays wide, and a section

of main front of three bays wide.

Both façades have been fully integrated

in the present house and their

extent in the fabric is just apparent

from the weathering of the stone.

For nearly two

centuries, Shilstone

languished as an




Materials from the demolition were

turned to use in the enlargement

of the neighbouring farm buildings.

Some have also reputedly been found

in town houses in Modbury. For nearly

two centuries thereafter, Shilstone

languished as an architecturally

undistinguished farmhouse.

When the Fenwicks purchased the

property in 1997, their first task was

to set the agricultural buildings beside

the house in order, creating a series

of cottages and also a small house

on site from which to supervise the

building work. In the meantime, they

commissioned Kit Rae-Scott to design

their new home.

His brief was for a house that sat

comfortably on the site and in relation

to the existing fragment of the earlier

house. It needed to take advantage

of its situation, with garden fronts to

the south and west, an entrance front

Fig 3 top left:

The dining

room enjoys

views over the

valley. The oak

boards were

laid green and

have been

allowed to

season in

place, hence

the gaps between


Fig 4 left: The

library, with

its collection

of architectural


to the east and the services facing

the hill to the north. It was also

required that the kitchen had a twoway

aspect that included a view

of the forecourt and farm buildings,

so that it was possible to keep an eye

on day-to-day activity from there.

Mr Fenwick, a particular enthusiast

for 17th-century architecture, likes

houses that have evolved and

requested that the finished building

should have work in the character

of the three periods—1600s, 1680s

and 1720s.

The resulting design is simple, satisfying

and successful. The surviving

eastern façade was retained in its

entirety as the new entrance and the

southern front was extended to seven

bays. This was not a random length,

but replicated Mr Rae-Scott’s reconstruction

of the façade of about 1800,

as inferred from its truncated remains.

During the course of clearing the site,

his deduction as to the original extent

of the front was proved to be correct.

Both fronts were refenestrated

with broad-framed sashes, a treatment

characteristic of about 1700.

To the west and north, the symmetry

and regular fenestration of the house

was broken with different levels and

mullion and transom windows (Fig 2).

One room within the entrance

range preserved Jacobean panelling

and this has been repaired and preserved.

It was thought that the

panelling came from the house, but

when it was dismantled, a piece

of paper pasted on the back of one

panel revealed that it incorporates at Fig 5: The

least some pieces ‘From Revelstoke central corridor

when taken down 1868’ (Fig 6). is the main

Internally, the house is designed artery of the

around a small courtyard with a fountain.

This open space suffuses the nects the front

house. It con-

surrounding interiors with light and hall, shown

spreads the calming sound of running here, with the

water through the building. Extending

along one side of the courtyard opposite end

back hall at the

is an arterial corridor that connects of the house

the front and back hall of the house and is lit from

(Fig 5). Opening off this are the dining

room (Fig 3) and library (Fig 4), the central

the side by

the latter with an impressive collection

of books on architecture. the main rooms

courtyard. All

At first-floor level, the courtyard open off this

is enclosed on two sides by corridors thoroughfare

giving access to bedrooms, a gallery

and guest room. Mr Fenwick sees ➢

Fig 6: Lucy

Fenwick’s sitting

room is part

of the original

house on the

site and is decorated

with early-



Some of this

may have come

from the earlier

house, but a note

on the back

of one panel

reveals that

it was brought

from a nearby

house at



in 1868

echoes of many of his favourite buildings

in the design: the stone hall

evokes that of Puslinch, Devon, the

corridors Castle Howard, North Yorkshire,

and the drawing room—the

one room in the house that awaits

completion—that of Trerice, Cornwall.

Permission for the designs was sought

in 2000 and it has taken more than

10 years to realise them. All the stone

was quarried from the farm and sandblasted

on-site to give it a patina of age.

English oak and elm have been used

throughout the building (Fig 7). Mr

Fenwick was his own clerk of works.

Rather than working with estimates, he

purchased all the materials himself and

paid everyone according to the hours

they laboured. In his own words, he aimed

every week ‘to put the cheque into the

hand of the man who did the work’

rather than managers or third parties.

There were no consultants, surveyors

or even computers used on this

project, just the single mind of Mr

Rae-Scott. It is testimony to how well

this system operated that the majority

of the workforce is still helping

at Shilstone on the estate.

Apparent throughout the building

is an acute attention to detail. Mr

Rae-Scott, for example, drew up his

plans in imperial measurements in

deference to the tradition he was work-

For the traveller

who successfully

navigates the

deep lanes that

lace the rolling


of Devon, there

is a remarkable

treat in store

ing in. These were presented for planning

in metric by the simple means of photocopying

his drawings to a different scale.

And Mr Fenwick can enthusiastically

explain almost every feature of the

building and the way it was intended

to mature. The oak floorboards, for

example, were deliberately seasoned

in situ and were laid to accommodate

shrinkage. In this way, they precisely

imitate the form of historic floors.

Such sensibilities account for part

of Shilstone’s success, but there is more.

Mrs Fenwick is a director of Sotheby’s

and a specialist in British pictures.

She has collected for the interior with

a brilliant eye to complement inherited

and repurchased family furniture

and paintings. The result is a very

eclectic hang of pictures. It is one,

moreover, that is forever shifting,

clear evidence that the interiors are

being enjoyed and contemplated.

The house may be coming to completion,

but the Shilstone project also

has a vigorous afterlife. The team

that furnished the house is now making

panelling and fitting for other houses.

Mr Fenwick’s experience of searching

for a suitable place to build his

house has now generated a small institution

in the form of the Devon Rural

Archive. Run by a full-time member

of staff and half a dozen volunteers,

the archive occupies a purpose-built

library on the farm by the architect

Adrian Gale. It seeks to encourage

public interest in Devon’s landscape

and historic buildings great and small.

No less remarkable, plans are already

afoot for the conversion and extension

of a newly acquired neighbouring farmhouse

dating from the 15th/16th century

in a similarly exemplary fashion to

designs by Mr Rae-Scott. With the

example of Shilstone to judge it by,

it is hard not to be excited at the prospect

of what will be achieved.

For more information, visit http://

Fig 7 facing

page: The main

stair rises from

a lobby off

the back hall.

It reflects

the expertise

of the building

team and

is made of

English timber

Timeless elegance

The new-build country or town house needs real

character to stand the test of time. Geoff Heath-Taylor

takes a look at houses built after 2000 that showcase

the best of British domestic architecture


Quinlan Terry and his son, Francis, are

leading advocates for Classical architecture

today. At Ferne Park, Viscountess

Rothermere’s house on the Wiltshire/

Dorset border, they have skilfully reinterpreted

the language of Palladianism

to suit the needs of a family in the 21st

century. The pediments and pilasters will

age gracefully and the gleaming, locally

sourced Portland stone will weather to

a soft silvery-grey.

Quinlan & Francis Terry Architects

(01206 323186;


This award-winning clifftop home on the northwest

coast of the Isle of Skye is a wonder primarily

because of the way the house sits so well

in its extraordinary setting. Designed as ‘two

connected volumes’, the entrance façade is

built in traditional Scottish stone, which makes

the building sit well in the rugged hills. In contrast,

the north-west front looks suitably stark

in the barren landscape, a mass of silvery

larch wood and glazing that offers farreaching

views across Loch Dunvegan.

Dualchas Architects (0141 –550 1401;

London skyline

Completed in 2012, The Shard has very quickly

become a defining part of the London skyline. Its

tapering form—like a huge spire of glass—

soars over the capital, with a viewing platform

at the top that commands 360˚ views for up to

40 miles around. The apartments on the upper

levels enjoy some of the greatest cityscape vistas

in the world, with St Paul’s appearing as small

as a matchbox from the penthouse.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architects

(00 39 01 06 17 11;

Paul Highnam; Andrew Lee; ImageGap/ Getty Images; Will Pryce/Country Life Picture Library

The tradition of new

country houses

in Britain remains

as strong as ever

in the 21st century


This Wiltshire house was built in two phases

by Ross Sharpe Architects and the Cirencesterbased

practice Yiangou Architects. The principal

section was finished six years ago in the

style of a gentrified 18th-century Cotswold farmhouse

and the extension, with its Venetian window

and Regency garden façade, was added in

2012. It combines Classical design with modern

building materials, incorporating a concrete

structure covered in lime render.

Yiangou Architects (01285 888150;


The Arts-and-Crafts Movement transformed the way in which we view and value materials.

This new farmhouse in Hampshire, with its dormers and arched porch, is designed in the

spirit and idiom of that movement. It makes use of locally sourced brick, flint and clay.

These materials relate the building directly to its setting.

ADAM Architecture (01962 843843;


In COUNTRY LIFE’s ‘Best of Britain’ number

last year (June 11), Editor-at-Large Clive

Aslet commented that Downley House in

Hampshire demonstrates ‘that the tradition

of new country houses in Britain remains

as strong as ever in the 21st century’.

Hidden in a valley near Petersfield, Downley

is at once romantic and Modernist. The

house includes turrets and a great hall

and makes extensive use of cross-laminated

timber from sustainable forests

in Switzerland.

Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects


020–7253 8205)




The versatility of oakframe

buildings knows

few bounds. From newbuild

country houses

via guest annexes

and garden rooms,

Arabella Youens

takes a look at the

elegant options

Guest annexe

After successfully commissioning an orangery and stable complex, the owner of this house in

Staffordshire had this guest house designed and built by Prime Oak. The building was constructed

within Permitted Development (the company undertook the responsibility of ensuring this was

the case).

Cost The supply and installation of the oak frame, the joinery and the insulated roof, which is lined

with reclaimed tiles, cost £65,000, plus VAT.

Good to know The company, which was established in 1998 and is based in the West Midlands,

has an oak show site you can visit to inspect some examples of its work, including an annexe,

garage, orangery and garden room. In the spirit of keeping the necessary skills alive, it also runs

an apprenticeship programme with local colleges.

Contact 01384 296611;


This three-bay oak garage has one

set of garage doors, an open log

store and a pretty oak dovecote.

Cost This garage cost £32,000 plus

VAT (not including foundations).

Good to know Julius Bahn Oak

Buildings in Stourbridge, West

Midlands, specialises in extensions

and outbuildings. It will handle all

planning applications and create

bespoke designs for each client.

Contact 03444 171400; www.


This six-bedroom house in Surrey

measures approximately 4,000sq ft.

Oakwrights in Hereford was commissioned

to build it and it took seven months

to complete, with the owners moving

into the property in June last year.

Cost Approximately £750,000.

Good to know Oakwrights prides

itself on its state-of-the-art equipment:

80% of the precision cutting is done

by machine, with the craftsmen doing

the scribe work, decoration and

embellishment, much of which is done

using traditional hand tools.

Contact 01432 353353; www.

Welsh Oak

Frames makes

all the frames

by hand in its


Kitchen extension

The owners of a farmhouse in Flintshire, North Wales, replaced

a single-storey annexe with this open-plan kitchen, dining

and living space. Planning permission required the extension

to complement and link seamlessly with the existing building.

Cost The total project cost about £200,000: approximately

£100,000 for the building work, £50,000 for the oak frame

and a further £50,000 for bi-fold doors, kitchen units and

furniture. Included in the project (not seen in the photograph)

is a sitting area and bedroom with study.

Good to know Welsh Oak Frame makes all the frames

by hand in its workshops rather than using machinery.

Contact 01686 688000;

This round


provides 360˚ views

of the garden


This oak-frame conservatory is part

of a Grade II-listed 16th-century house

in Warwickshire. Having spotted a round

conservatory in a magazine, the owners

commissioned Arboreta to create

a similar design. In order to overcome

potential problems with the listing

of the house, a small walkway was put

in place to connect the conservatory

to the main house. The final design,

with its nine windows, provides 360˚

views of the garden.

Cost The green-oak frame cost £36,000

and the total cost to build was £52,000

(including the frame).

Good to know Arboreta is an arm

of Welsh Oak Frame and specialises

in building garden rooms, orangeries,

conservatories and annexes.

Contact 0800 288 8333; www.

Pool house

This four-bay pool enclosure was built for a family in Kent. It’s an oak structure with structural feature

trusses and a warm roof in which the insulation is fitted above the rafters, but below the tiling.

Cost It took five weeks to build at a total cost of £135,000.

Good to know East Sussex-based company English Heritage Buildings is the only oak-framed

manufacturer to be awarded a BM TRADA Q-Mark and it’s focused on using traditional building

techniques using modern technology.

Contact 01424 838643;


County Oak in Somerset was commissioned to build this oak orangery by a family

in West Sussex who were looking to create a light space for entertaining that would

sit well with their Tudor house. The glass construction was designed to echo

the architecture of Elizabethan outbuildings and the house’s timber frame. Ashurst

tiles were carefully selected to match the existing roof.

Cost £45,000 including VAT.

Good to know The quality of the oak—which is fully air dried rather than green

or partially dried—shows off the beauty and texture of this wood at its best.

Contact 01278 764415;

In with

the new

Carla Passino has the pick of newly

built properties and restorations

in London and in the country

In London

London SW1 from £2.1 million

Number 1, Palace Street

Best feature The perfect central London setting

Style A modern take on period interiors

Several of the 72 apartments at these converted government

offices, due to be completed in December 2017, will enjoy

views of Buckingham Palace’s gardens. The development spans

five eras, ranging from Italianate Renaissance to contemporary,

and has leisure facilities and full concierge service.

Northacre (020–7349 8000;

London SE1 from £5.95 million for a penthouse

NEO Bankside, Sumner Street

Best feature Double-height living areas overlooking the

London skyline

Style Uncompromisingly contemporary

The soaring towers of NEO Bankside, on the South Bank,

are as cutting-edge as can be. External bracings hug the

buildings, removing the need for structural walls and giving

complete flexibility to internal spaces, and its vast expanses

of glass bring in the views of St Paul’s and the Thames. Winter

gardens extend the living area while sheltering you from the

vagaries of the weather. There is a state-of-the-art gym plus

the obligatory 24-hour concierge and security services.

NEO Bankside (020–7998 1888;

London SE1 from £3.45 million for a penthouse

One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge

Best feature The large, panoramic roof terraces

Style Modern chic

Facing Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the penthouses

at One Tower Bridge make the most of the views with floorto-ceiling

windows and spectacular roof terraces, which

have an outdoor kitchen with a dining and seating area.

Residents also have access to a beautiful pool and spa,

24-hour concierge service and a virtual golf experience.

The Berkeley Group (020–7871 0011;

London WC2 £7.5 million

9, Betterton Street, Covent Garden

Best feature The striking kitchen

Style Streamlined and ultra-modern

This converted four-bedroom town house

is packed with dramatic features, from

the double-height ceilings in the kitchen

to the minimalist fireplace in the sitting

room and the magnificent terrace. The

gym, the steam room and the cinema

room can be controlled from your iPad.

CBRE (; 020–

7420 3050) and Knight Frank (www.; 020–7499 1012)

London SW6 £16.95 million

The Penthouse at The Tower,

Chelsea Creek, Fulham

Best feature The magnificent terrace

with outdoor tub

Style Timeless classic

Penthouse living doesn’t get much better

than at The Tower, the angular waterside

building rising above Chelsea Creek docks.

Once completed, this five-bedroom property,

which takes up the two top floors

of the 25-storey tower, will have beautiful

interiors designed by Taylor Howes—the

kitchen with a grey-veined marble island

and Gaggenau appliances is especially

striking—plus a landscaped sky garden

and magnificent views across the Thames

and the London skyline.

Knight Frank (020–3811 2241; www.

In the regions

North Yorkshire from £1.58 million

for a town house

St Leonard’s Place, York

Best feature A superb location in the

heart of York

Style Regency meets modern

Selling agents Savills call St Leonard’s

Place ‘the most exclusive development

that York has seen for several decades’.

Set close to York Minster, this Grade II*-

listed crescent is being converted into

five exceptional town houses plus 29

apartments and six mews properties.

The houses—a thoughtful restoration

of five of the original crescent homes—

will blend magnificent period features

and contemporary touches, such as

open-plan living areas and automated

sound and lighting systems.

Savills (01904 617820; ➢

Surrey £4.25 million

High Warren, The Warren, Ashtead

Best feature The manicured interiors

Style Modern classic

Timeless architecture meets contemporary

design at this boutique development

of five villas. This elegant house

has five bedrooms, including a vast

master suite with dressing room and

balcony and four airy reception rooms.

A separate annexe provides accommodation

for guests or staff.

Knight Frank (01483 564660; www.

Hampshire £2.595 million

Woodlands, Sandy Down

Best feature Beautiful grounds with private woodland abutting historic woods

Style Versatile modern spaces with a period flavour

As the name suggests, this four- to five-bedroom house, which sits in more than

1½ acres by the ancient Roydon Woods, comes with its own stretch of woodland.

Inspired by New Forest architecture, Woodlands marries traditional details—from

the Michelmersh bricks with corbel detailing to the handmade clay roof tiles and

the hand-carved oak banister in the turning staircase—with a flexible, contemporary

use of space. All the main rooms make the most of the beautiful rural views.

John D. Wood & Co (01590 677233; and Spencers

of the New Forest (01590 622551;

Oxfordshire from £1.425 million

The Acre, Cumnor Hill, Oxford

Best feature Distinctive, low-impact architecture

Style Tailored to suit your taste

Innovative architecture and sustainability meet at The Acre,

a development of just five houses on Cumnor Hill created

by Kevin McCloud’s HAB Housing. Each property has

been designed to make the most of its position on the hill

while minimising its impact on the environment, with plenty

of natural daylight, hemp as an insulating material and

bird-friendly gardens. The bespoke interiors will be finished

to meet each buyer’s taste and needs.

Savills (01865 269010;

Berkshire £4.35 million

Moor Green Farm, Finchampstead

Best feature The idyllic location

Style Modern Georgian

Views across the Moor Green Lakes

Nature Reserve, a lake-peppered haven

teeming with roe deer and more than

200 bird species, are just one of the

many draws at Moor Green Farm. This

six-bedroom, Georgian-style country

house has bright, beautifully proportioned

reception rooms, a magnificent kitchen/

breakfast room and plenty of scope

for fun and relaxation—including

a gym, a games room and a cinema

room. Outside, the lawned gardens

and grounds extend to 5.7 acres.

Strutt & Parker (01256 702892; www.

Property market

Penny Churchill

IT’S been a tough year for UK

property developers whose

mission in life is to satisfy the

housing needs of the world’s megarich.

Even in the gilded north Surrey

enclave of St George’s Hill, Weybridge,

‘the first half of the year was

completely wiped out by the panic

surrounding the General Election,

fears about Labour and the SNP, the

non-domicile grey cloud and the added

ingredient of Stamp Duty,’ reveals

Tim Garbett of Knight Frank in Esher,

who has reigned supreme on the hill

for much of his 40-year career.

Built with

opulence and

privacy in mind

Fortunately, the return of a Conservative

government appears to

have steadied the ship and normal

service resumed this month with the

launch onto the market, through

Knight Frank (01372 464496), of

the Royalton Group’s spectacular,

21,500sq ft Woodlawn (Fig 1) in

East Road, St George’s Hill, at

a guide price of ‘excess £25 million’.

Claimed to be ‘the biggest and most

exceptional house in St George’s Hill,

and arguably the most desirable

property available in the UK’, Woodlawn

stands on the footprint of an

original W. G. Tarrant manor house,

built in 1913 and extended in 1924.

Designed by the architect Julian

Bicknell with ‘opulence, relaxation

and privacy in mind’, the classically

proportioned stucco house stands in

3.7 acres of secluded grounds on one

of the largest sites in the 900-acre

St George’s Hill estate, part of which

is designated Green Belt, on which no

formal building is allowed.

114 Country Life Month 1, 2015

Fig 2 below:


Woodrow at


Surrey, by




A talent to amaze

Three new-build country houses in Surrey

offer living on a grand scale

The main, three-storey, formal

block of the house stretches the full

width of the site with, to one side,

a service court with five garages and

two staff flats, linked to a pool and

leisure suite that extends down the

garden. Unusually nowadays for a house

designed with the international market

in mind, the entire built area is located

Fig 1 above and

left: ‘The biggest

and most


house in St

George’s Hill’:

the Royalton

group’s new


Excess £25m

above ground, with no underground

construction whatsoever.

Unbridled opulence is the order of

the day, with symmetry a recurring

theme throughout, from the Art

Deco-inspired, double entrance staircase,

to the domed entrance hall.

Other highlights include the linked

drawing and dining rooms, the study/

library and the open-plan kitchen,

breakfast and family room, leading

to the sun room, with its magnificent

views across the manicured grounds.

That, in turn, leads to a sumptuous

day room overlooking the swimming

pool and spa, where, at the touch of

a button, a drop-down screen converts

the room into a luxurious

cinema, with upholstered walls to

soundproof the area ‘for optimum

viewing pleasure’.

Unlike many of the new mansions

built in the north Surrey arena in

recent years, the approach to the

Find the best properties at

house is genuinely impressive, with

double entrance gates opening onto

a central driveway, framed by an

avenue of hornbeams and bisected by

a long axial fountain pool. Security,

always a major concern, is provided

by sophisticated CCTV and video

systems, backed up by a steel palisade

and 7ft-high fencing on the northeastern

and eastern boundaries.

Who can afford such splendour in

this day and age? At the moment,

probably not an Englishman, agrees

Mr Garnett, who has been fielding

enquiries from Chinese, Middle East

and Indian buyers, as well as the

occasional Russian. However, proof

positive that some life is returning

to the market is the fact that he has

already received two bids on the


And, given that the next sale down

the line in St George’s Hill this year

was a brand-new mansion set in 1½

acres, also built by Royalton but sold

privately with no prices released,

Woodlawn may well turn out to be

the catalyst that kickstarts the toplevel

revival in this exclusive neck of

the woods.

Certainly Paul Finnegan of Savills

(020–7016 3780), which have joined

Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) as

joint selling agents for local developer

Hencan Southern’s prestigious

new mansion, the 22,000sq ft Woodrow

(Fig 2) at Windlesham, Surrey,

will be hoping for just such an outcome.

Currently on offer at a guide

price of £19.75m, secluded Woodrow

stands in an idyllic, four-acre parkland

and woodland setting, off one

of Windlesham village’s premier roads

and close to the historic towns of

Ascot and Windsor—as well as the golf

courses of Sunningdale and Wentworth.

Built on four floors, with the high

ceilings and the expansive rooms

Fig 3: Imposing

Burford Place

at Picketts Hill,

near Haslemere

in Surrey,

is an Octagon

house within

easy reach

of the area’s

good schools.


All the boy’s toys

demanded by today’s international

buyer, Woodrow makes the most of

its generous living space, with five

grand reception rooms, eight bedrooms,

nine bathrooms, a 9,800sq ft

underground leisure and swimmingpool

facility, two staff apartments

and garaging for six cars.

East Molesey-based Octagon is

another Surrey developer with an

excellent track record for building

one-off, top-of-the-range houses for

the international jet-set, notably in the

north Surrey golden triangle around

Wentworth. Increasingly, however,

the company has been successful in

developing a niche market catering

for wealthy young British families

moving out of London to be close to

WHEN, in 2007, Cheltenham-based property

developer James Deacon bought

a former organic mushroom farm set in 6½

acres of land in the heart of the Cotswolds, his

intention was to build a substantial new neo-

Georgian manor on the site. Having applied for

the requisite planning consent, he was surprised

to have his application rejected by the

planners on the grounds that it might be ‘too

pretentious’, with the suggestion that he opt

for a more modern design.

The result was the strikingly Minimalist The

Kudos, designed by local architect Andrew

schools such as Eton and Wellington,

reports David Smith of Octagon’s

sales team (020–8481 7500).

The firm’s latest venture is the construction

of the imposing Burford

Place (Fig 3) at Picketts Hill, between

Farnham and Haslemere, which

has been built in the footprint of

a former manor house, with five reception

rooms, seven bedrooms and six

bathrooms, set in 5½ acres of grounds

with outbuildings that could easily

be adapted for stabling. The house

sits in a lovely rural setting within

easy reach of good schools at Hindhead,

Haslemere, Liphook and Petersfield

and is for sale through Strutt

& Parker in Farnham (01252 821102)

at a guide price of £4.75m.

Smith Associates and built on three floors with

all the ‘boy’s toys’ you could ever dream of—

underfloor heating throughout, a digitally controlled

heating system, bathrooms by Kohler,

internal and external sound wiring, an integrated

mood-lighting system, a 20-seat soundproof

cinema and underground garaging for 10

cars. Its 10,000sq ft of living space includes

five reception rooms, five en-suite bedrooms and

a pool and gym complex ready for completion.

Meanwhile, Mr Deacon prepares to embark

on his next project, a substantial renovation

elsewhere in the area, as Luke Morgan of Strutt

& Parker (020–7629 7282) handles the sale of

The Kudos, at a guide price of £3.75m.

Property news

Edited by Arabella Youens

Lego for grown-ups

Building a house from scratch is a dream many of us have had in the dead hours

of the night. For those lucky few who manage it, how have design trends

evolved over the past few years? Arabella Youens finds out

WHETHER it be chutes to

the laundry room or dedicated

rooms for hobbies,

today’s country houses provide an

insight into the lives of a 21st-century

family. However, one constant across the

spectrum of new-builds, be they in Berkshire,

Buckinghamshire or Berwickshire,

is that they’re places to have fun.

Sandy Mitchell, who runs RedBook,

an agency advising clients on creating

new houses (020–7060 6222; www. says: ‘Everyone

knows that a country house is expensive

to run, so it’s important at the outset

to invest energy into creating something

that the owners will really enjoy.’

He has clients who are currently

restoring a house in Derbyshire and

installing a zip wire from one of the

turrets down to the garden. ‘That’s not

something we see every day, but is

suggestive of this movement to be less

formal than perhaps people were in the

past. There’s a trend towards relaxing

boundaries both inside and outside

and a focus on family and children,

on entertaining and sharing the space.’


These tend to change depending on how

deep into the countryside you are,

explains Hugh Petter, director of ADAM

Architecture (01962 843843; www. ‘Houses closer

to London—or any city—tend to have

less emphasis on boot rooms and

instead have more luxurious garages

or large basements with cinemas, saunas

and steam showers as well as huge

master suites with separate “his and

hers” bathrooms and dressing rooms.’

As it’s considerably easier, for planning-permission

purposes, to increase

floor space by digging down into the

basement rather than above ground,

new country houses will often make

the most of the subterranean space.

Janine Stone, which works on newbuild

projects in the immediate Home

Counties and beyond, has recently

created a basement garage for a client

that was embedded into the landscape.

‘This delivered a major statement for

Saturday night

at the movies:

cinema rooms

are becoming

less formal

so that they can

double as ‘chillout’




the client, but, importantly, the design

didn’t impact on the landscape of the

surrounding countryside and the house,’

explains founder Janine Stone (020–

7349 8888;


The open-plan kitchen and breakfast

room forms the heart of a new-build

country house—however, regardless

of whether it’s within the M25 or not,

kitchens in such properties are

more subtle in design than they

have been in the past. ‘A lot of bling

isn’t popular now,’ says Stuart Cole

of Knight Frank (020–7861 5101; ‘More subtle

finishes are better.’

He adds that cinema rooms are

becoming less formal than they have

been, with ‘fewer rows of cinema seats—

instead, people go for large sofas so

that the space can be used after the

film is over as a “chill-out” room’.

Carpets are out and wood or stone

floors—at least, at ground level—are

in, says Stuart. A lot of the details will

be ‘influenced by hotels that clients

have visited,’ adds Sandy. ‘Gone are

the days when you’d expect to be a little

less comfortable in a country house and

the expectation is that the interiors

will look and feel as sophisticated

in the country as they are in London.’


The amount of technology clients are

fitting into new country houses has

taken a few steps back recently, believes

Malcolm Stewart of Kensington

Audio Visual (020–7736 1483; http:// ‘The primary

concern is that owners will be able

to control heating, ventilation and airconditioning

effectively. You can easily

run up annual heating bills of £50,000

in large houses and, if you have spare

bedrooms, you want to be able to “turn

them off” when they aren’t in use.’

Next in importance is security, with

CCTV, panic alarms and security doors

in remote areas where police response

times can be a concern. ‘Then, I’d say

the focus is on lighting control, music

systems and audio-visual distribution

to avoid having to have multiple satellite

boxes cluttering the house and,

finally, access controls, which are

important if the house has two

entrance drives and staff.’

Nevertheless, whether it be because

technical aspirations might be stymied

by slow broadband or because there’s

a conscious aspiration to put ‘clear

water between home and the buzz

of the city’, the further away from the

bright lights you get, the less technologically

advanced a new house

will tend to be, adds Hugh.

New houses

North Yorkshire, £875,000

Carlyle House, Harrogate

Carter Jonas (01423 582937)

Although this house is Grade II listed,

it forms part of a development

and restoration of a former police

station. It comes with three bedrooms,

a kitchen/breakfast room

and a south-west-facing garden,

which has been laid to lawn.

Commute to Bath

Somerset, £1.6 million

Perkins Court, Freshford

5 bedrooms, 3,913sq ft, cart-shed garage, garden

Savills (01225 474501)

This house forms part of the Freshford Mill development based around a renovated mill straddling the

River Frome. The garden has a terrace with views down to the lake. The village, six miles south-east

of Bath, lies in the Cotswold AONB and has a train station, a community shop, a surgery and a pub.

Surrey, £1.795 million

Langham House, Betchworth

Millwood Designer Homes

(01424 390150)

This five-bedroom village house

lies just on the edge of the Surrey

AONB, providing extensive opportunities

for walking and riding. It

comes with a spacious open-plan

kitchen with bi-folding doors that

lead out to the patio and garden.

Pieds dans l’eau in Dorset

Dorset, £7.5 million

Vanquish, Poole Harbour

6 bedrooms, indoor pool, private mooring

Hamptons International (01202 709283)

The entire top floor of this contemporary house is dedicated to the master suite. Full-width sliding

doors take full advantage of the view onto Poole Harbour and the nearby Parkstone Yacht Club. A lift

provides access to all the floors of the house and on the lower level is garaging and a media room.

Berkshire, £3.95 million

Byways, Ascot

Bewley Homes (01344 626959)

The standout feature of this sixbedroom

house is the kitchen/

breakfast room, which is naturally

lit by a roof lantern. The property

comes with underfloor heating

and an integral studio flat.

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