Country House Review 2016: The Year’s Notable Deals & Instructions

Notable deals and instructions from the last 12 months

As we approach the end of an ‘eventful’ year, here’s a look back at some of the most interesting, important and impressive country properties that hit the headlines…

A handsome John Dobson country house in Northumberland began its transformation back into residential use, eighty years after being requisitioned by the Army.

The Grade II listed Longhirst Hall was designed by the great neoclassical architect behind Newcastle’s famous Grey Street and Central Station, along with nearly a hundred country houses and churches stretching from York to Edinburgh.

Dobson was commissioned to built the grand affair by the Lawson family in 1824, but it was later sold to the coal-mining magnate, Sir James Joicey, one of the richest men in the country at the time. After being requisitioned by the Army during WWII, the Hall fell into the hands of the Home Office and was converted into a school and then a community home, which closed in 1982. Guises as student digs and a 77-room hotel followed, before developer Dere Street Homes came along last year.

The scheme is delivering 26 luxury homes ranging from two bedroom apartments to the “jewel in the crown”, the epic nine bedroom mansion itself, which will pack over 13,000 square feet of internal space…

An historic Grade I listed mansion hit the market near St Albans for £12m.

Lying about 20 miles north of the capital, the Tyttenhanger Estate was owned by the Abbey of St Albans until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, then granted by King Henry VIII to Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1547.

The 25,000 square foot beauty we see today – Tyttenhanger House – was built in 1654/5 and has been employed as both serviced offices and a wedding venue of late. There’s all kinds of potential, however, and a conversion back into a world-class family residence could be on the cards, depending on who buys it and what mood the planners are in. Other options include a 38-room hotel.

Buckinghamshire’s planners invoked the “Country House Clause” – Paragraph 55 – to give the green light to a contemporary three bedroom house in the Green Belt designed by AR Design Studio.

Paragraph 55, formerly known as the Gummer Law, has only been used around 100 times since it came into being in 1997, and is only applied in cases where “exceptional architectural quality and innovation criteria” are satisfied.

Other recent Country House Clause winners include Jarvis Homes’ eco house in Kent and a classical Warwickshire mansion by ADAM Achitecture.

AR’s design, Ravenstone, is a collaborative effort between AR Design Studio, Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers (which also does a lot of work with Apple) and landscape architects Ibbotson Studios, which will see an overgrown paddock transformed into “a striking landscaped lake-side modern home for a couple with a passion for collecting and restoring classic English cars.”

Some clean lines and basic rectilinear shapes are, the architect says, “inspired by a local agricultural vernacular”, and will deliver some grand open-plan living spaces, including a main area which cantilevers 5.5 metres above the water and gardens below.

With 232 acres of completely private land, a Grade II* listed Georgian country house, a famous polo club and some serious provenance, Woolmers Park Estate in Hertfordshire is what you’d call “the whole package”.

At £30m, it was also one of the biggest instructions outside of London this year, so here’s some background…

The present house was built in the 1730s and records show it passed to Samuel Whitbread the Younger, of the brewing dynasty, in around 1800. Bought by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater in 1803, the estate was later sold to Sir Gore Ouseley in 1821 – entrepreneur, scholar, protégé of Lord Wellesley in India as a well as a British Ambassador to Persia – who entertained the likes of The Duke of Wellington and the Prime Minister. In 1927, it was acquired by the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, parents of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who spent most of their time there up to the Second World War, only going to Glamis Castle, the family seat in Scotland, between July and September. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret stayed at Woolmers Park regularly. Chartered Surveyor and businessman Lascelles Arthur Lucas became the owner in 1949 and founded the Hertfordshire Polo Club in the grounds. The current owners bought in 1997.

Key features include 73,000 square feet of combined living space, an Italianate garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei (winner of the Best Show Garden Award at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2014 and a three-time Gold Award winner), extensive equestrian facilities including four polo fields and – crucially – a complete lack of public rights of way across the land.

Not for the faint of heart, a magnificent Highlands manse thought to be the last castle built in Scotland came back on to the market after an abortive attempt to turn it into a luxury hotel.

The Scottish Youth Hostel Association brought Savills in to market the Edwardian Carbisdale Castle, which is known locally as “The Castle of Spite” and is widely believed to be haunted by a ghost called Betty; it’s now on the market for £900,000 and has the opportunity to become “an incredible trophy home”.

The Category B listed castle, set in 16 acres, was built between 1906 and 1917 for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, the second wife and widow of the 3rd Duke. Following an acrimonious settlement with her in-laws, it was agreed that the family would build her a castle, somewhere beyond the Sutherland Estate lands. The Duchess chose a prominent site high above the west bank of the River Shin, just beyond the estate boundary, which could be seen from both the road south and the railway. She decreed that the clock tower (which still contains the original bells and mechanisms) should not have a clock face on that side, as she did not wish to give her relatives the “time of day”. Hence the “Castle of Spite” moniker.

After a stint as a refuge for King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav during the Nazi occupation of Norway (the Carbisdale Conference, which laid out Norway’s future in 1941, was held here), Carbisdale was gifted by the Salveson family to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, which opened the castle as a 40-bedroom youth hostel in 1945.

It ran as Youth Hostel for a good 60 years, but a brutal winter in 2010/11 caused significant damage to the fabric of the building, installations and furnishings in a number of areas. Some major works were undertaken – including a complete refurbishment of the roof – but a full restoration proved to be prohibitive, and the property has lain empty since.

Carbisdale was reportedly sold in 2015 for around £1.2m to new owners with big plans to invest several millions and create a luxury hotel. The plan, clearly, didn’t work out.

A trio of historic and highly unusual properties were put up for sale after the liquidation of a national building preservation trust.

Despite laudable aims to rescue neglected historic buildings across the UK and repurpose them as holiday lets, the Vivat Trust went into receivership last year and three rather striking properties went looking for a buyer as a result.

The portfolio included the UK’s tallest folly, the 53m, Grade I listed Hadlow Tower near Tonbridge in Kent, along with a 15th century timber framed gatehouse in North Yorkshire and a 14th century manor house near Hereford.

Clear Architects was granted planning permission to re-instate a former historic manor house and estate in the West Essex Green Belt, creating a 4,000 square foot, four-bedroom new-build inspired by the original Henry Holland-designed incarnation of the property on the same site.

Epping Forest District Council credited the plans with “exceptional” architectural merit, giving the nod to build on the Capability Brown-designed Debden Hall estate in Loughton, Essex. This will be the third iteration of Debden Hall – hence the project’s name, Debden Hall III – although no trace of the former buildings remains.

The original neo-classical manor house was created by renowned architect Henry Holland and landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown back in 1775, but was destroyed by fire in 1929. A second Debden Hall was erected in a different location on the estate in 1936, but was demolished in the 1960s. The current landowner “has now committed to bringing the site back to its Henry Holland and Capability Brown former glory.”

As part of the planning permission, the Grade II listed wrought iron gates on England’s Lane, Loughton, will be restored, as will a sweeping tree-lined driveway leading to the property, and a piece of land larger than 20 tennis courts will be opened up to public access via Epping Forest Country Care’s nature reserve.

Clear Architects brought in Chelsea Flower Show Award-winning landscape architects, Aralia Garden Design. Aralia’s designs for the site are inspired by Capability Brown design details and will reintroduce a variety of historic plantings to the site, which also features ancient woodland. A landscaped feature in evidence on the estate – believed to be either an “ice house”, a Belvedere or a Tumulus – will form part of the 1.34 acres gifted to Epping Forest Country Care for community benefit.

It wasn’t Britain’s biggest ever house price reduction, as some news sources claimed, but £5.5m was still a lot to chop from the asking of one of Britain’s finest country houses.

The Grade I listed Tyringham Hall in Buckinghamshire hit the market just over two years ago sporting a guide price of £18m. For a fully refurbished one-off “architectural masterpiece” designed by Sir John Soane and featuring gardens by Sir Edwin Lutyens, we didn’t think that was crazy money, but such is the market that it reappeared in 2016 with a heavily trimmed guide of £12.5m.

About 45 miles from London, the hall dates back to 1792 and stands in just under 60 acres of rolling parkland. The formal gardens, which feature one of Europe’s largest reflecting pools, are generally accepted to be some of the Lutyens’ most impressive work.

An important 6,000 acre Highland estate was put up for sale by the family of four-time British PM William Gladstone.

Sited between Aberdeen and Dundee on the eastern fringe of the Grampian Mountains, the Fasque Estate was offered up either as a whole package or in 28 lots and includes an historic castle, driven grouse and pheasant shooting, duck flighting and trout fishing.

The Gladstone family bought in 1829 and the PM is said to have loved it up there, visiting as often as he could (sometimes walking the full 15 miles from Banchory Station).

The 6,228-acre proposition involves 32 houses and cottages, estate and farm buildings, productive agricultural land, 2,335 acres of grouse moors, commercial forestry, amenity woods, a renowned pheasant shoot with over 40 named drives and Christmas tree plantations. Asking prices for the lots varied from offers over £45k to £2.15m, or the whole shebang was available at offers over £9.32m.

The centrepiece, Balbegno Castle, is a real treat. Set in about 21 acres of gardens, grounds and parkland, the recently renovated A-lister has a remarkable Great Hall, complete with a vaulted stone ceiling depicting the coats of arms of 13 Scottish peers (there were originally 14 but one was removed after a fall out with the peer in question). It was available as a single lot, priced at a pretty competitive £595k (OIEO).

A Grade II listed house designed by one of the pioneering architects of the Arts and Crafts movement came up for sale for the first time in its history.

The Leasowes, in the picture-perfect Cotswolds village of Sapperton, was conceived and built as Ernest Gimson’s private residence in 1903 during a period when he was working on a whole bunch of commissions for the Earl of Bathurst. Once described by Pevsner as “the greatest of the English architect-designers”, Gimson moved to the Cotswolds in the late 19th century (“to get closer to nature”) and ended up shaping much of Sapperton.

Generally considered to be one of the most successful examples of the late Arts and Crafts movement, the house passed to the Bathurst family after Gimson’s death in 1919, so this is effectively the first time it’s ever been available. According to agents Hamptons International, whilst the architectural integrity has been retained “there is a huge opportunity to enhance (STPP)”.

Approached via a 400 metre drive and set in 18.75 acres of land, the main house is 3670 square feet in size and built of traditional Cotswold stone under a hand cut stone roof. Features of note include simplistic panelled doors with hand made nails (“exemplifying the traditional approach of the architect”), along with stone floors and Gimson’s trademark stepped chimneys.

An important Grade I listed country estate in Norfolk changed hands for a reported £10m.

Built by Thomas Ripley for the first Lord Walpole in the 1740s, the glorious Wolterton Hall had remained in the Walpole family ever since, although the present Lord and Lady W took up residence at nearby Mannington Hall while Wolterton hosted everything from weddings to antiques fairs.

According to the Eastern Daily Press, the sale was confirmed by agents Knight Frank, ending “months of speculation”. The actual purchase price wasn’t revealed, although the word on the high street put it at “around £10m”.

One of England’s most impressive new-build country mansions came on at a shade under £20m.

Within a short trot of the rather lovely wealden hamlet of Lurgashall, the 17,000 square foot “Millicent” is ensconced in 40 acres of private land and billed as “a magnificent state of the art modern home under the skin of a classical Georgian country house”.

Highlights include a raft of grand reception rooms, a master suite with a pair of both dressing rooms and sitting rooms, at least six other suites, a cinema room, bar, gym, jacuzzi, sauna, billiard room, Indian room, two-lane bowling alley, tennis court, swimming pool with entertaining terrace, formal garden, parkland, paddocks, woodland and a lake.

A spectacular country pile in Hampshire became one of the most significant open-market instructions of 2016.

The spectacular Hackwood Park in Hampshire – the former seat of the Camrose family – involves a glorious 17th century Grade II* mansion set in 260 acres of grounds complete with Grade I listed ancient woodland and a private botanical garden.

Approached via a pair of gatehouses, the Lewis William Wyatt-designed main house has been fully restored by the current owner and comes with 24 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms and a raft of impressive reception rooms. Further highlights include Grade II listed stables, a Coach House, four estate cottages and a deer park.

Agents Savills declined to comment on the instruction, but a guide price of £65m+ was being bandied around in a few reports, which would make it the most expensive UK country estate ever offered on the open market.

A stately country house in Berkshire was snapped up at auction for just over £2m, a fraction of what it was asking on the open market last year.

The Grade I listed Bere Court, a “landmark” Queen Anne mansion in Pangbourne with origins going all the way back to 744, made local headlines when it came on last year at just under £5m. And that didn’t sound like crazy money for a property of this stature.

Formerly part of the Bere Court Estate, the stately 10,000 square foot pile was built in the 1600s and has 19 bedrooms over two floors, 11 bathrooms/cloakrooms, a reception hall, a great hall, 11 reception rooms, two kitchens, four utility rooms, workshop and studio facilities, two cellars, and a six-bay garage. Original features abound, including wood panelling, carved fireplaces, beams, cornicing and decorative plasterwork and the whole thing is set in just under ten acres, with a long private drive.

But despite its obvious charms, the house failed to sell and the whole shebang was listed in Allsop’s July auction catalogue on behalf of mortgagees on a guide of £2m-£2.2m. After receiving some “keen” interest from the room, the hammer eventually fell at £2.15m.

A Queen Anne mansion modelled on the original Buckingham Palace came up for sale via an online agent.

Built in 1710 for Richard Orlebar and his wife Diana Astry, the magnificent Hinwick House in Wellingborough has served as a private family residence for the last three centuries; this is only the fourth time it’s ever been on the market.

The 37-acre package includes the three-storey Grade I listed Main House, the Victorian Wing, the Stables, three Turret Cottages, two ornamental lakes, a deer park, a clock tower, a period walled garden and an ancient dovecote.

The three-storey Grade I listed centrepiece is built of finely coarsed Ketton and Weldon limestone and sports a distinctive carved pediment and ornate architrave featuring the Orlebar family crest across the front door.

There’s around 20 bedrooms in total, along with a suite of grand reception rooms, including a Morning Room with high ceilings and York flagstone flooring, a cracking Drawing Room with five sash windows, and an oak-panelled library. The cantilevered staircase in the West Hall is an extraordinary piece of joinery attributed to Daniel Wyman, whilst much of the house’s decorative plasterwork is believed to be the work of John Woolston.

The asking price was set at £14.5m.

One of Scotland’s finest sporting estates – a favourite of Queen Victoria’s now owned by the Astor family – went onr sale just days before the Glorious Twelfth, with a £10.5m+ asking price – making it Scotland’s most expensive.

Sprawling across 12,000 acres of magnificent Aberdeenshire near Tarland, the Tillypronie Estate offers an exceptional 11-bedroom country house and gardens, set in amongst some top-of-the range shooting, stalking and fishing.

Queen Victoria herself laid the foundation stone for Tillypronie House, which was constructed in 1867 by Sir John Clark, the diplomat son of the Queen’s physician, Sir James Clark. Victoria then visited the estate with her friend and confidant, John Brown (aka Billy Connolly).

The Royal connection doesn’t end there; our very own Queen Elizabeth planted a Dawyck Golden Beech in the gold-themed Golden Jubilee Garden, which opens up to the public twice a year. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan also got in on the gardening action at Tillypronie, planting some kind of conifer. Other famous guests include American writer Henry James, who described the property as “this supremely comfortable house – lying deep among the brown and purple moors”, and went on to wax about “the glorious view of sweeping hills and gleaming lochs that lies forever before the windows”.

Another landmark estate, the 21,000 acre Tulchan, was also brought to market this year.

After 23 years of ownership, the Litchfield family decided to sell the epic “sporting and wildlife paradise” bordering the Cairngorm National Park, which includes eight miles of double bank fishing on the Spey, revered by fly fishermen the world over as one of the greatest of all salmon rivers.

The historic Edwardian centrepiece, Tulchan Lodge, has welcomed politicians, princes and kings over the years, and the package also included a portfolio of let farms, houses and cottages.

Described as the “ultimate utopia” for country sports enthusiasts, highlights include an “exceptional” pheasant shoot, two driven grouse moors, red and roe deer stalking, a hill loch with brown trout fishing, snipe and woodcock shooting and wild duck flighting.

There’s a commercial herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle and a Blackface sheep flock on the land, which currently provide beef and hill-fed lamb to the estate, which is also almost self sufficient in fruit and veg from the kitchen garden.

Savills and Davis & Bowring were tasked to find a buyer for Tulchan Sporting Estates Limited, of which Leon and Gillian Litchfield are the principal shareholders. In a statement, the Litchfields said the decision to sell “wasn’t taken lightly” but that “this is the right time for someone new to take the reins”, praising the “unwavering commitment of their staff in developing a sporting venue and rural business of the highest calibre, which is respected the world over”.

Offers starting with a £25m were being invited…

Meanwhile, buyers after more manageable Scottish estate were being tempted by Craig Castle (or just “The Craig” to anyone who’s anyone), which dates back to the 13th century and has been a way-station for Kings and Queens (and their bodyparts) throughout its life.

Tradition has it that Sir James Douglas spent his final night in Scotland here, protecting the heart of Robert Bruce before transporting it faithfully to the Holy Land in battle against the Saracens. Visits by King James V are noted in 1535 and 1539, and Mary Queen of Scots is said to have stayed twice overnight. The Old Pretender, James Edward Stuart, is thought to have passed his final night at the castle before leaving for exile in France in 1688.

The Craig, set high above the Montrose basin in the Angus countryside, is “one of Scotland’s oldest properties”, trumpeted selling agent Savills, and “one of the most historic houses in Scotland”. There’s a “dramatic and wildly romantic” tree-lined avenue approach, ivy-clad drum towers, C17th formal gardens, corralled parapets, tunnel-vaulted rooms, six bedrooms, seven receptions, and some epic views.

But it’s not all in the past. The Craig has been in continuous use as a residence since the 1200s and has managed to keep pace with modern specs, with regular and very well-done restorations resulting in a properly historic castle – with all sorts of detail from all sorts of periods – that makes a grand contemporary home.

Apart from the original Middle Age architecture, there are Georgian staircases, Palladian windows and Adam fireplaces, a Renaissance painted ceiling bearing the date of 1529 (currently on display in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh), and Tudor panelling. More recent additions include two midnight blue Agas and a fully-specced sauna/gym in the ancient former kitchens.

West Heslerton, a fully-functioning village in North Yorkshire, reportedly went under offer after being put up for sale in April with a £20m guide price.

Selling agent Cundall’s said that, after “a lot of interest from many different buyers”, an offer for the majority of the village is “on the table… and has been for some time now” but, sensibly, has not issued any details. The firm marketed the property as “genuinely a once in a generation opportunity”, with a current rental/subsidy income of around £388,000 a year.

The village, which went on the market following the death of its most recent owner Eve Dawnay in 2010, includes the grand 21-bedroom, 16,000 square foot West Heslerton Hall, as well as a pub, petrol station, 43 homes and 2,116 acres of land; a few homes in the village are privately-owned, so not part of the sale. Downey’s family had owned the village for the last 150 years.

West Heslerton Hall is in need of some quite dramatic TLC, having lain empty for the last 30 years.

A 1960s creation in Hertfordshire, once described by the Sunday Times architecture critic Hugh Pearman as “probably the best Modern house in the world”, was listed for sale at £3.5m.

Designed in ’62 by Jorn Utzon of Sydney Opera House fame, the six-bed marvel in Harpenden was brought to market by specialist agency The Modern House, who billed the proposition as “one of the most admired residences of our age”.

A 762-acre estate in the Cotswolds centred around a Quinlan Terry mansion came up for sale at £17.5m.

The ridiculously attractive Bibury Court Estate in Gloucestershire offers the full works, with fishing on the River Coln, pheasant and partridge shooting, woodland, pasture, arable, and a range of buildings including a four-bed mill house, but the principal, honey-hued mansion is the star of the show.

Designed by the current masters of the classical form, Quinlan & Francis Terry, the stunning six-bed sits in an “unrivalled” position and packs six perfectly proportioned receptions, a pool, gardens and even its own cricket pitch.

Other QFT projects have included Ferne Park in Wiltshire, Kilboy in Co Tipperary and London’s £120m Hanover Lodge, along with The State Rooms at 10 Downing Street, Brentwood Cathedral, the New Infirmary at Royal Hospital Chelsea, 20-32 Baker Street, 264-267 Tottenham Court Road, Queen Mother Square in Poundbury and Merchants Square in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Soham House, one of the most important houses in Newmarket, and which has played a pretty central role in the history of horseracing heritage, was offered for sale with a £1.65m ticket price.

The 6,000 square foot, seven bedroom house was commissioned by the famous Johnstone family in 1892, as a country home in which to entertain guests from London for Newmarket races. It was designed by top Arts & Crafts architect C J Harold Cooper, who was also responsible for Mayfair’s Green Park House and 1a Palace Gate in Kensington. The property was later bought by Lord Queenborough in 1910, who was thought to be the wealthiest man in England at the time. Lord Queenborough married New York high socialite and Teddy Roosevelt cohort Pauline Payne Whitney; the Whitney family has been one of the biggest horseracing dynasties in the US from the late nineteenth century until today.

Lord Queenborough and Pauline Payne Whitney’s daughter, the Honourable Dorothy Wyndham Paget, who was one of the world’s most prolific racehorse owners owned the property most of her life until 1952. Paget’s horses won a total of 1,532 races in both flat racing and hurdling and her stud in Ireland bred Arkle, one of the most successful racehorses of all time. She was reported to have been worth the equivalent of £100 million on her death in 1960 and a nearby neighbouring road around the property have been named in her memory. Paget was also known as a keen sponsor of motor-racing and in the late 1920s financed the team of supercharged Bentleys created by Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin.

Following Paget’s death, Soham House was acquired by the Horse Racing Forensic Laboratories (now known as the LGC Group) which converted many of the rooms into offices and laboratories, and went on to lead research projects around horseracing, drug testing and commissioned research for owners and trainers. It was pretty important stuff, and received a Royal visit from Princess Anne in 1970 in recognition.

The property was converted back into a residential dwelling in 1997, before it was purchased by the current owners in 2001. Many of the original features have been retained, including an incredible carved oak staircase with a number of elaborate carvings and finials, vast fireplaces and extensive wooden panelling. Interestingly, a stained glass window was removed from one of the bedrooms when the property was purchased by the Horseracing Forensics Laboratory and is now in the Victoria and Albert museum. The window includes four panels with illustrations of “The Brownies” from Mrs Ewing’s children’s book of the same name. There are more Brownies (fairy folk) in wooden panels over the reception hall.

All-in, it’s a pretty impressive home, with a grand vaulted reception room, billiards room (complete with original paintings on panels above a marble fireplace) and that delicious redbrick facade. There’s also a large cellar with a wine store and silver room.

Soham House was offered with 1.15 acres of grounds, including a sweeping driveway with an ornate stone fountain and a series of garages and outbuildings. It’s located off of Snailwell Road, alongside a number of key racing yards, including the Godolphin headquarters.

It may have missed out on this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, but the remarkable Outhouse bagged some richly-deserved silverware in the shape of the 2016 Manser Medal.

The freshly-revived award (which isn’t anything to do with RIBA these days) was set up by the late Michael Manser in 1981 to celebrate the best new houses in the UK, and comes with a £5k cash prize.

Loyn & Co’s 5,300 square foot concrete creation on the Welsh borders, designed for a couple of retired artists, has a field for a roof, ridiculous amounts of natural light, and makes the absolute most of its sloping site.

The judges described it as “a classic Modernist construct with a timeless quality but robust and capable of being inhabited and evolving…apparently a house embedded in the hillside with a single long façade opening to the striking view, but whose soul equally derives from the layering of views through courtyards of differing characters and potential functions.”

The other shortlisted entires were Ansty Plum House by Coppin Dockray, Gasworks by Chris Dyson Architects, North Vat by Rodic Davidson Architects, 142 South Street by Sandy Rendel Architects and Folds by Bureau de Change.

Bawdsey Manor, a turreted Grade II* listed former school in a righteous Suffolk seaside setting, came to market for £5m, with selling agent Knight Frank flagging that it has a huge amount of potential for all sorts of buyers – including as a resi development or an epic private residence.

The estate, which covers 144 acres of Suffolk Heritage Coastline, has 78,000 square feet of principal buildings. These include the striking main manor house overlooking the mouth of the River Debden, a former stable courtyard, extensive additional educational buildings, cottages at Bawdsey Quay, as well as the boathouse café and storage, together with a slipway/jetty.

The design of the Manor House was originally conceived by a local architect, William Eade, and intended as a holiday home for the owner, MP, stockbroker and sailing nut William Cuthbert Quilter. Quilter also had a steam-powered chain ferry built across the Debden to make it easy to reach Felixstowe train station, and made Bawdesy his main home a few years later.

The property and grounds were sold in 1937 by the Quilter family to the Air Ministry, who used it as a research station and it was at Bawdsey Manor where the ground-breaking radar technology was first developed and used during WWII.

Following brief closure, the manor was used as an air defence unit from 1979 to 1986. In 1994, the MOD sold the estate and the current owner who relocated his international school, from Harlow, Essex to Bawdsey Manor. The site was home to Alexanders College until the college closed in 2016.

Strutt & Parker tucked away a magnificent estate in West Sussex.

The Lydhurst Estate, the former home of the late businessman, philanthropist and Wolves boss Sir Jack Hayward, sits in 222 acres in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with an 11,787 square foot eight-bed mansion as its centrepiece. The views across the South Downs are something else and the package included 11 houses, cottages and flats, a traditional walled garden with greenhouses, an estate office and outbuildings. It’s been described as “one of the finest settings in the South of England”.

The whole thing hit the market at the beginning of the year for £10m, but the asking was subsequently reduced to £8.25m and the deal is believed to have gone through there or thereabouts. Strutts confirmed the sale, adding that the new owner wishes to remain anonymous.

A really quite special country house hotel near Salcombe in Devon’s South Hams was offered for sale, with the agent flagging up that, aside from a its current incarnation as a swish by-the-night retreat, “the property could also make a wonderful private house subject to planning permission.”

Savills started marketing the 3 AA star rated William and Mary manor house, Buckland Tout-Saints, with a £2.75m guide price. The property looks down over its 4.5 acres of tended gardens and woodland, which includes a croquet lawn and helipad (it’s a bit out in the sticks – offering near-total privacy – so the helipad does get used a fair amount). In its current format, the main house offers 16 en-suite bedrooms, an impressive lounge, a self contained function suite that accommodates 120 covers, and the Queen Anne Restaurant, which holds 2 AA rosettes.

An important £13m estate in Buckinghamshire was sold to a private buyer in December after attracting “strong interest” from developers.

The Bulstrode Estate, which features a 106,000 square foot Victorian mansion as its centrepiece, was being offered by Savills on behalf of WEC International, a Christian charity that had been based there since 1967.

The vast Grade II listed behemoth near Gerrards Cross is set in 38.9 acres and was once home to the infamous “Hanging Judge” Jefferys.

Savills said the marketing campaign brought in plenty of interest from resi developers, hoteliers and international education groups, but there’s no word yet on what the buyer plans to do with their new acquisition.