Country houses for sale

The best country house architects in Britain

Country Life is proud to present our updated 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, ADAM is renowned for significant new country houses, refurbishments and considered alterations to listed properties, as well as, increasingly, contextual urban design. The practice is currently involved in a significant urban extension at Nansledan, Newquay, for the Duchy of Cornwall.

01962 843843; www.adamarchitecture.com

Fawler Manor, by Adam Architecture.


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, including his own new-build house, Nithurst Farm, West Sussex, which last year won a Georgian Group award for a new work in the spirit of the Georgian era. With studios in London and West Sussex, the practice is currently working on a major refurbishment and extension of a Georgian manor house and a wellness resort on a Sussex estate. Mr Richards recently became chair of the jury for the RIBA South-East regional awards

020–7613 5077; www.adamrichards.co.uk

Brotherton Lock by Adam Richards Architects.


Ben Pentreath

In addition to a 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. Current projects include the creation of a new traditional farmhouse in Piedmont, Italy, several houses in Scotland and the North of England and the restoration of an Arts-and-Crafts house in Penzance, Cornwall.

020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com

A Ben Pentreath morning room.


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, Bonnington House at the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, Edinburgh, and the historic almshouses of Cowane’s Hospital, Stirling.

0131–220 3366; www.benjamintindallarchitects.co.uk  

 


Craig Hamilton Architects

A clear focus on Classical architecture has earned this Radnorshire-based practice a substantial 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 nine 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 the Grade II-listed pier in Colwyn Bay; conservation at one of the grandest Georgian country houses in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire; and repair and restoration at Rivington Terraced Gardens on the edge of the West Pennine Moors.

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 an award-winning architect, renowned for designing country houses in the Classical style. He founded his own practice six years ago, having worked for his eminent architect father, Quinlan Terry, for 20 years. He is a talented artist, using his watercolours to bring ideas to life, and is also a writer whose musings on architecture can be found on his website and in his books.

01206 580528; www.ftanda.co.uk  

Kilboy in Co Tipperary in Ireland, rebuilt by Quinlan and Francis Terry. ©Will Pryce for the Country Life Picture Library


Giles Quarme Architects

Giles Quarme and Natasha Brown run a historic building practice known for its sensitive alterations and extensions and traditionally designed new homes. Giles Quarme is chair of Historic Buildings & Places (formerly known as the Ancient Monuments Society). Projects include Aston Hall, Birmingham, and, in West and East Sussex, 16th-century Wiston, Pitshill Shell House and Glynde Place. The practice has received numerous awards, most recently for Frogmore House, Windsor.

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 founders, Gunnar Groves-Raines, and is developing a reputation for progressive new-builds. Recent projects include Kyle House and Lundies House on the Wildland estates in the Scottish Highlands and an architectural gem, Lamb’s House in Leith.

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 are the recipients of a 2021 Georgian Group Architectural Award for their work at The Con Club, Framlingham, Suffolk.

01728 688747; www.hrma.co.uk

 


Ian Adam-Smith Architects

English country-house specialist Ian Adam-Smith and his team work primarily on private houses and estates in West Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and other Home Counties. Currently, projects include important houses by Lutyens, Shaw and Voysey, as well as number of new-build country houses and the reinstatement of a commanding Regency pile on the North Downs.

01428 644644; www.ianadam-smith.co.uk

Ian Adam-Smith and his team mainly work on private homes in the Home Counties.


John Simpson Architects

A leading proponent of New Classicism, the eminent John Simpson is known for both residential and institutional designs, including a new building in Kensington for the Royal College of Music and the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in Nottinghamshire, among many other projects. His own new-build house, Harewell Hall in Hampshire, featured in the magazine on April 14, 2021.

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, Chris Lawler and David Rhodes 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 II*-listed house in Chelsea, the transformation of a large country estate in Oxfordshire and new-build houses in Surrey and London.

01865 865165; www.johnstoncave.com

 


Marc Deaves Architect

An imaginative country-house expert who handles a small number of projects each year, Marc Deaves has recently completed work on a Wiltshire rectory with 13th- century origins. He is currently tackling a historic country-house refurbishment in the Cotswolds, balancing the use of traditional craft skills with the need for modern technologies appropriate to a zero-carbon age, as well as projects for London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor estates.

07970 458025; www.marcdeaves.com

 


McLean Quinlan

Mother and daughter 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.

020–8870 8600; www.mcleanquinlan.com


Nick Cox Architects

This Oxfordshire-based, mid-sized practice is known for the repair and conservation of important historic buildings, including Blenheim Palace, Woburn Abbey and many National Trust properties, as well as maintaining a portfolio of projects for private clients including new houses and interventions in historic settings. In 2021, the practice won the RIBA National Award for a new exhibition space in the south transept of Winchester Cathedral. It is currently working on country homes in the Cotswolds, Midlands and South-West, with a focus on sustainability.

01869 238092; www.nickcoxarchitects.co.uk  

 


Peregrine Bryant Architects

Renowned for scholarly restorations of historic buildings, Peregrine Bryant founded his practice 28 years ago. Winner of the Georgian Group 2021 Award for Restoration of a Country House for Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire, the practice — alongside many other projects — continues to work at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3, currently on the adaptation of Sir John Soane’s Stable Building to new uses.

020–7384 2111; www.peregrine-bryant.co.uk

 


Philip Hughes Associates

Established in 1982 by chartered building surveyor Philip Hughes, the firm offers both surveying and architectural services, counting the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust among its clients. Projects include breathing new life into the Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles House, Dorset, and work to transform the Arts-and-Crafts-style Laboratory building at RHS Wisley, Surrey.

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 Sir Christopher Wren. His current projects include the reinstatement of the Abbey’s long-destroyed Great Sacristy, according to its 13th- century footprint, and the creation of a new access ramp at the west front. He is also completing, together with garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, the remaking of Aldourie Castle and estate in Scotland.

020–7378 7714; www.ptolemydean.co.uk

 


Purcell

This internationally renowned architectural and heritage-consultancy practice has 12 studios across the UK, plus others in Hong Kong, Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne. Its forte is bringing contemporary design solutions to historic environments, such as the revitalisation of a previously derelict site in Cornwall to create a new county archive, Kresen Kernow, and the transformation of the historic thatched barn into a visitor centre at Christ Church in Oxford. The practice has also recently completed a strategic masterplan for Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

020–7397 7171; www.purcelluk.com

 


Quinlan Terry Architects

An expert in designing new Classical buildings, which fit so comfortably into their surroundings that they look as if they have always been there, Quinlan 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 Hall Folly in Worcestershire for V&A chair Nicholas Coleridge and Classical galleries for St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford.

01206 323186; www.qtarchitects.com

 


Richard Parr Associates

Founded by Richard Parr in 1994, this architectural practice is known for its ‘modern traditionalist’ approach to residential and hospitality projects around the UK, with a wealth of expertise in the Cotswolds and a strong reputation for reinventing historically sensitive sites.

The practice has recently completed the refurbishment of a 17th-century manor house, complete with Arts-and-Crafts additions, in Gloucestershire, and sensitively transformed an original farm hamlet into 17 hotel-room suites with a restaurant, indoor pool and spa to become the Farmyard at The Newt in Somerset. The practice has also transformed a historic barn into an award-winning additional workspace at its Cotswold office, and launched its new studio in London.

01453 860200; www.richardparr.com

The Newt was worked on by Richard Parr Associates.


Russell Taylor Architects

A highly respected expert in Georgian and Regency architecture, Russell Taylor’s designs have the same elegance and style at all scales, from new houses, orangeries and garden pavilions to individual components, including chimneypieces, fitted furniture and architectural details. The practice is also known for adapting historic houses to modern living. With offices in London and Cornwall, the firm’s current projects include townhouses and country houses in Somerset, Cornwall and the Home Counties.

020–7261 1984; www.rtarchitects.co.uk

Meeting Rooms at the new headquarters of the Royal Society of Musicians Of Great Britain, on the Ground Floor of 26 Fitzroy Square, London. Russell Taylor Architects lead the restoration of the building, formally opened by HRH The Prince of Wales.


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. Most recently, the practice has completed the main house and spa for The Newt hotel in Somerset and is currently working on private country houses in Hampshire, Devon and the Cotswolds.

01225 787900; www.sm-j.com

 


Simpson & Brown Architects

This leading Edinburgh-based practice specialises in architecture, archaeology and heritage consultancy, working throughout the UK. The company recently completed new visitor centres for St Albans Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and Rye Harbour, as well as a new home for whisky brand Johnnie Walker in the former House of Fraser department store in Edinburgh. Country-estate projects currently include proposals for the redevelopment of Elvaston Castle Country Park in Derbyshire.

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 and hotels, 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 include the design of a house to Passivhaus standards in Berkshire, a timber- frame cottage in Somerset entirely clad in oak and cedar and restoration works on a Grade I-listed house in Devon. On the drawing board is a design for a small birdwatching hide at the edge of a lake, to be built from woven willow with a turf roof.

01935 83543; www.stuartmartinarchitects.com

 


Thomas Croft Architects

Strong on contemporary interventions in historic buildings, including, in London, Albany on Piccadilly and an important 1790 Robert Adam townhouse on Fitzroy Square, Tom Croft also specialises in new buildings in traditional settings. They currently include the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion in Cowes, Isle of Wight, and his reworking of a Gothic Revival farm by William Butterfield in Hertfordshire. He counts Sir Paul McCartney and Will Champion of Coldplay among his clients.

020–8962 0066; www.thomascroft.com

 


Yiangou

This Cotswold-based practice works almost exclusively on private residential projects, particularly new-build country houses, as well as pool houses and leisure buildings, presently including a contemporary complex with pool, gym, hammam, yoga studio and home cinema for a house in Berkshire. Unusually, it has expertise in designing contemporary and traditional houses and an award-winning reputation for both.

01285 888150; www.yiangou.com  

A Yiangou creation. Picture credit: Andy Marshall


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