Celebrating the magnificence of an historical house
28 April 2014
Our clients tend to be driven either by a wish to be in a specific area (frequently for schooling or commute considerations) or by architecture. At our first meeting many people bring out old brochures, clippings from magazines and books to illustrate the type of house and the life style they want. From these we quickly build a picture of their brief.
The light rooms of late 18th and 19th century houses, especially the classic old rectory which make such good family homes, are particularly popular. Earlier 15th/16th/17th century houses whilst fascinating architecturally and historically tend to be less requested, often because many are of high listed status (grade 11* or grade 1) and it is therefore difficult to adapt them to modern lifestyles. In fact I always say that you adapt your life around an Elizabethan or Jacobean house, not the other way around.
So, it makes a refreshing change when you have a client who positively does want an early property.
I had a case like this a couple of years ago when a young couple, who were then based in Singapore, were put in touch with me – during our long (both distance and time!) conversation it became clear that they were very attracted by the idea of an early and historic country house and preferably one that needed some work. As we were closing they offered to send me pictures of a house that they said was for them the very epitome of what they wanted. These duly arrived and turned out to be photos of Wayford Manor near Crewkerne in Somerset.
This beautiful part Medieval and part Elizabethan house is listed grade 1 as being of national importance. It is perhaps better known for its magnificent gardens which were remodelled by Harold Peto in the 1900’s and were then open to the public. At the time the house and 275 surrounding acres had been owned by the same family for nearly 50 years and there seemed little prospect of them selling. However Wayford Manor gave me the general picture of what they wanted and the search was on.
Our clients were content to wait for the right thing but 18 months later we were still looking and their return to England was looming. The telephone conversation with a local selling agent about an historic Somerset house which was likely to be privately offered that year was therefore timely and our clients couldn’t believe their luck when it turned out to be Wayford Manor. Although the house was only ever offered to a handful of known buyers not surprisingly three of them, including of course our clients, decided they wanted it and we had to fight hard to secure it for them. Eighteen months later they are still happily pinching themselves that they now live in their dream home.