Country houses for sale

The best country house architects in Britain

Country Life has once again delved into its little black book and fully updated this list of the finest architects in Britain.


More from the Country Life Top 100:


If you’re considering serious work on your home, the golden rule is to look for someone with a track record in country-house projects of a scale and type similar to yours. Interview two or three, ideally on site so that you can see how the architect responds to the location as well as to you. Are they enthusiastic? Do they pick up on the cues of the landscape? Do you like them?

‘We often work with people to move forward to a “feasibility-sketch” stage, to make sure the relationship is working,’ says John Tehan of Smallwood Architects.

‘Even if clients are clear about what they want, most people will need to stand back and think about things once the process has started.’

He stresses the necessity of taking the time at this stage, because any changes later may be too late. ‘The system in this country means that your ideas need to be clear by the time you go to planning; there isn’t really the luxury of reconsidering later, because you’ve already had to commit in order to get permission,’ he explains.

An architect’s fee can vary, sometimes a fixed sum for a specific job, such as a feasibility sketch or a masterplan, or a percentage related to the cost of the build. This will vary depending upon the scope of the architect’s services and the scale, complexity and type of the project, but 10%–15% (on top of the build cost, plus VAT) may be considered a reasonable rule of thumb.


 

ADAM Architecture

Highly respected experts in traditional architecture, renowned for significant new country houses, refurbishments and considered alterations to listed properties, as well as, increasingly, contextual urban design.
01962 843843; www.adamarchitecture.com

 

Adam Richards Architects

Known for designing striking contemporary houses with the atmosphere of ancient ones, Adam Richards founded his practice in 2000. He has turned his hand to a range of award-winning projects, from the refurbishment and extension of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft to his own new-build house, Nithurst Farm, both in the South Downs National Park.

Nithurst Farm, West Sussex- The home of Adam and Jessica Richards. The plan of the Nithurst drawing room tapers, hence the asymmetry of this view. Its wall surfaces are bare concrete. Photograph: Will Pryce/Country Life Picture Library

With design studios in London and West Sussex, the practice takes a spirited approach to private residential projects, as well as Arts, cultural and heritage work. Projects currently include the renovation and extension of a Georgian manor house in Oxfordshire, complete with an underground swimming pool that forms part of a spatial sequence based on the myth of Persephone in the Underworld, and new boarding houses and a health centre at Mayfield School in East Sussex, which will unite a site that includes the Old Palace used by the Archbishops of Canterbury during the 14th and 15th centuries. Mr Richards is a member of the South Downs National Park Design Review Panel and says he enjoys developing cultural — and often romantic — themes to create houses with more soul than the contemporary white box.
020–7613 5077; www.adamrichards.co.uk

 

ANTA Architecture

Conservation architect Lachlan Stewart leads a practice known for both new houses in the Scottish vernacular and for the sensitive restoration of a range of historic buildings.
01862 850100; architecture@anta.co.uk

 

Ben Pentreath

In addition to a highly successful architectural and master-planning practice, Ben Pentreath runs a burgeoning interior-design studio and, with Bridie Hall, the Pentreath & Hall shop, selling furniture and accessories. Recent projects include the interior restoration of the early-18th-century Chettle House in Dorset. This autumn sees the publication of his new book, An English Vision (Rizzoli), a monograph of the work of his practice.
020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com

The interior of Chettle House, Dorset, one of Ben Pentreath’s projects. Photograph: Paul Highnam/Country Life Picture Library

Benjamin Tindall Architects

After 40 years, Benjamin Tindall still runs his Edinburgh practice today. Renowned for repairs and alterations to historic buildings, the firm offers a full range of services, from landscaping to the design of light fittings, furniture and ironmongery. Notable projects include the restoration of a significant Arts-and-Crafts house in the Channel Islands and continuing work to Bonnington House at the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, Edinburgh.
0131–220 3366; www.benjamintindallarchitects.co.uk

 

Craig Hamilton Architects

A clear focus on Classical architecture has earned this Radnorshire-based practice a huge following. The company specialises in the design of new country houses, including for The Prince of Wales in Carmarthenshire, as well as sacred and monumental architecture.
01982 553312; www.craighamiltonarchitects.com

 

Donald Insall Associates

This leading architectural practice, now more than 60 years old and with eight UK offices, specialises in the care, repair and adaptation of historic buildings and the design of new ones, including private houses, on sensitive sites. Recent projects include the restoration of an Elizabethan house in Wiltshire, conservation at one of the grandest Georgian country houses in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire, and a new entrance pavilion at Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd.
020–7245 9888; www.donaldinsallassociates.co.uk

 

Francis Johnson and Partners

This Yorkshire practice works across the UK, specialising in substantial country houses in the Classical tradition and the conservation of historic buildings, including a new house on an estate in North Yorkshire and the renovation of a late-17th-century house in Suffolk. Established in 1937 by the late, great architect Francis Johnson, the practice is now run by Malcolm Stather and Digby Harris.
01262 674043; www.francisjohnson-architects.co.uk

Francis Terry and Associates

Francis Terry is admired for his ability to design and restore country houses with an understanding of the beauty and balanced proportions of Classicism. He founded his own practice five years ago, having worked for his eminent architect father, Quinlan Terry, for 20 years. He is the current chair of the Traditional Architecture Group, a talented artist and the author of an inspiring blog.
01206 580528; www.ftanda.co.uk

 

Giles Quarme Architects

Giles Quarme runs a London-based practice known for its sensitive renovations and design of new buildings within conservation areas. He is passionate about the preservation of historic buildings and is chair of the Ancient Monuments Society. Current projects include the restoration of the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor, and of the Bayswater house where J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan.
020–7582 0748; www.quarme.com

GRAS

Specialists in the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings in Scotland and Ireland for more than 40 years, this Edinburgh-based practice, formerly known as Groves Raines Architects Studios, is now run by the son of the founder, Gunnar Groves- Raines, and is developing a reputation for progressive new-builds. Recent projects include the restoration of properties on the magnificent Wildland estates in the Highlands.
0131–467 7777; www.gras.co

Hoare, Ridge & Morris

Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge run the creative practice they founded with Charles Morris, designing alterations and additions to country houses, as well as new buildings with traditional character and high-energy performance. The pair’s understanding of the relationship between house and garden and the flow of rooms means that their work typically extends to detailed interior and landscape design. They recently purchased an old club in a Georgian townhouse near Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, which they have converted into a workspace and cafe.
01728 688747; www.hrma.co.uk

 

Ian Adam-Smith Architects

English country-house specialist Ian Adam-Smith says he likes to create ‘houses that look as if they have evolved and are suitable for the way we like to live now’. As an example, he cites a listed Georgian house in Hampshire, where he is linking the main part to outbuildings and adding a modern kitchen pavilion. He has clients across West Sussex, Hamp-shire, Surrey, Berkshire and London.
01428 644644; www.ianadam-smith.co.uk

 

John Simpson Architects

A leading proponent of New Classicism, the eminent John Simpson is known for both residential and institutional designs, particularly educational buildings at Eton College and Cambridge and Oxford universities. He is also involved in ‘creating beautiful places where people would enjoy living’, which currently include a village outside Gloucester.
020–7405 1285; www.johnsimpsonarchitects.com

 

Johnston Cave Associates

This practice first came to attention with the design of a flint-clad castle at Wormsley Park, Buckinghamshire, for Sir John Paul Getty in 1987. Today, Rory Duncan and Chris Lawler run a company known for the sensitive design of substantial buildings in established settings and the integration of new designs and modern services into old country houses. The firm’s current projects include the restoration of a Grade I-listed house in Richmond-upon-Thames in London and new residences in Hampshire and Berkshire.
01865 865165; www.johnstoncave.com

 

Marc Deaves Architect

An imaginative country-house expert who handles a small number of projects per year, Marc Deaves is at work on a Wiltshire rectory with 13th-century origins, as well as projects for London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor estates. He is strong on the use of tried-and-tested alternative-energy technologies.
07970 458025; www.marcdeaves.com

 

McLean Quinlan

Mother-and-daughter duo Fiona McLean and Kate Quinlan run this award-winning family practice alongside Kate’s husband, Alastair Bowden. With studios in Winchester and London, they are known for designing contemporary new-build houses with a pared-back and quiet beauty, with a focus on ‘the making of spaces that age with grace’. Using their conservation experience, they also take on a small number of renovations each year.

The practice takes a holistic approach to its projects with equal focus on exterior and interior architecture, designing light-filled houses in traditional materials such as timber and stone, with an emphasis on sustainability and experience in Passivhaus methodology. Current projects include the new-build houses in the UK, Tuscany, Galicia and California, as well as the restoration and extension of an Arts-and-Crafts house overlooking the sea near Lymington in Hampshire.
020–8870 8600; www.mcleanquinlan.com

A new Cotswolds house
in reclaimed stone by McLean Quinlan.

Nick Cox Architects

This Oxfordshire-based, mid-sized practice, run by Nick Cox, is known for the repair and conservation of important historic buildings, including Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, and on the Blenheim estates in Oxfordshire. It undertakes the design of private houses, too, and is working on country homes in the Cotswolds, with a focus on sustainability.
01869 238092; www.nickcoxarchitects.co.uk

 

Peregrine Bryant Architects

Renowned for scholarly restorations of historic buildings, Peregrine Bryant’s practice recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Winner of the Georgian Group 2019 Best New Work in the Classical Tradition award for a Grade II*-listed house in Chelsea, London SW3, the practice is also known for restorations at Crichel House in Dorset and for its decade-long, phased refurbishment of the Long Wards, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3.
020–7384 2111; www.peregrine-bryant.co.uk

 

Philip Hughes Associates

Established in 1982 by chartered building surveyor Philip Hughes, the practice offers both surveying and architectural services, counting the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust among its clients. Recent projects include breathing new life into the Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles House, Dorset, and the award-winning transformation of the Grade I-listed Shire Hall in the same county to the Historic Courthouse Museum.
01963 824240; www.pha-building-conservation.co.uk

 

Ptolemy Dean Architects

Historic-building conservationist, author and television presenter Ptolemy Dean is the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, a post once held by Wren. His current projects include the reinstatement of the abbey’s long-destroyed Great Sacristy, according to its 13th-century footprint, and the re-making of lost rooms, burnt in a fire in the 1940s, at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire.
020–7378 7714; www.ptolemydean.co.uk

 

Purcell

This internationally renowned architectural and heritage-consultancy practice has 11 studios across the UK, plus others in Hong Kong, Sydney and Hobart. Its forte is bringing contemporary design solutions to historic environments, such as the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, once Hong Kong’s Central Police Station compound, as well as the restoration of the Victorian Manchester Town Hall and the repair and restoration of 18th-century Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.
020–7397 7171; www.purcelluk.com

 

Quinlan Terry Architects

An expert in designing new Classical buildings that fit so comfortably in their surroundings that they look as if they have always been there, Mr Terry heads a practice known for private and public work. Current projects include rural residences in the Home Counties and South of England, the recently completed Wolverton Folly in Worcestershire, for V&A chair Nicholas Coleridge, and Classical galleries for St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford.
01206 323186; www.qtarchitects.com

Exterior with garden. The Folly at Wolverton Hall. ©Paul Highnam for the Country Life Picture Library

Russell Taylor Architects

A well-regarded Georgian and Regency expert, Russell Taylor has a deep understanding of the Classical language of architecture. From offices in London and Cornwall, the practice undertakes new-build, extension and alteration projects across the South of England, including London townhouses, country houses and estate buildings.
020–7261 1984; www.rtarchitects.co.uk

 

Simon Morray-Jones

Well known for his passionate conservation of historic properties in Bath, where he is based, Simon Morray-Jones has almost 40 years of experience of restoration, conservation and new-builds. Recent projects include The Newt hotel in Somerset, the restoration of a country estate in Leicestershire and the refurbishment of the listed townhouse museum at No 1, Royal Crescent in Bath.
01225 787900; www.sm-j.com

 

Simpson & Brown Architects

This leading Edinburgh-based practice works across the country, specialising in scholarly conservation work, the creative adaptation of existing buildings and the design of new buildings, as well as archaeological contracts via its Addyman Archaeology arm. The company recently worked on Barnbougle Castle on the shores of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, on the new Torabhaig whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye and a visitor centre for St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire.
0131–555 4678; www.simpsonandbrown.co.uk

 

Smallwood Architects

A strong player in the world of country houses, this practice is known for the remodelling of historic houses and the building of new ones, with an understanding of what it is that makes for successful 21st-century country living. The firm works on medium-to-large townhouses, too, across the UK and Ireland.
020–7376 5744; www.smallwoodarchitects.co.uk

 

Stuart Martin Architects

Based in Dorset, this practice specialises in one-off houses and conservation work across southern England, including London. Recent projects comprise the careful restoration of a medieval hall house in Surrey, combined with sensitive extensions, and a remote 16th-century house in Somerset, including the reinstatement of farm buildings found on an old map and the incorporation of green technologies to allow the house to be run in as close to an off-grid state as possible.
01935 83543; www.stuartmartinarchitects.com

 

Thomas Croft Architects

Strong on contemporary interventions in historic buildings and the design of new buildings in traditional settings, Tom Croft heads a practice currently working on the remodelling of two sets in The Albany, Piccadilly, W1, and the reimagining of Robert Adam’s most important remaining townhouse in London, dating from 1790. He counts Paul McCartney and various other A-list musicians among his residential clients.
020–8962 0066; www.thomascroft.com

 

Yiangou

This Cotswold-based practice works almost exclusively on private residential projects, particularly on new-build country houses, as well as pool houses and leisure buildings, such as Avalon at Broughton Hall, North Yorkshire. Unusually, it has expertise in designing contemporary and traditional houses and an award-winning reputation for both.
01285 888150; www.yiangou.com

 


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