Country houses for sale

Baughurst House, the ‘absolute wreck untouched for 60 years’, now immaculate and for sale, complete with party barn and petanque pitch

Baughurst House is a sumptuously-restored country house on the Hampshire/Berkshire border, all so beautifully done as to put any buyer's mind at peace. Penny Churchill tells more.

The top end of the property market is seeing increasing numbers of sales fall through after a price has been agreed, according to Charlie Evans of independent property advisers CKD. Therefore, if you’re a vendor, ‘it’s vital to ensure that all the legal aspects of a property sale are in order before you open the door to the first viewer’.

He cites the occasion, earlier this year, when his firm was selling a significant property off-market and negotiated ‘a fantastic offer at well over the asking price’. The offer was accepted and contracts exchanged within 24 hours. Soon after exchange, the buyer called to say that he had made a mistake and regretted buying it — but the contract was watertight and the deal stood. The same property was later re-marketed with another agent and sold for 30% less. ‘If ever there was an example of the importance of preparation, it is this,’ says Mr Evans. It’s also a prime example of the old adage, caveat emptor.

The importance of preparation is no less relevant when it comes to renovating a historic house, as Simon and Amanda Hall well knew, when, six years ago, they embarked on the restoration and remodelling of Grade II-listed Baughurst House, near Kingsclere, Hampshire, having already renovated several previous family homes. Following the completion of this, their most ambitious project to date, they are now looking to move further west, hence the sale of the pristine Baughurst House estate through Savills at a guide price of £15 million.

The present Baughurst House was built in 1847 to replace an earlier house dating from 1698. During the 17th century, it was owned by the Potter-Harris family of Quakers and was the centre of an important Quaker community until the early 18th century.

During the 1870s and 1880s, the east-facing wing was enlarged; the stables, barn and other outbuildings also date from this period. The single-storey, flat-roofed billiard room dates from the Edwardian era. However, the estate boundaries, ponds, streams and landscape have remained largely unchanged since the early tithe-map records were made in the 1840s.

Baughurst House sits in 117 acres of gardens, parkland, pasture and woodland on the edge of the North Wessex Downs AONB, close to the Hampshire/West Berkshire border, three miles from Kingsclere and 8½ miles from the commuter hub of Basingstoke.

The excellent choice of schools to be found in the area, allied to swift access to London by road and rail, were key factors in the Hall family’s decision to buy the estate, despite the fact that the house was ‘an absolute wreck, where everything was falling apart, having been left untouched for 50 or 60 years,’ says Mrs Hall.

Years of experience made her take a long, hard look at the main house before embarking on a number of important alterations to the layout and design. These included relocating the front entrance, rewiring, re-plumbing and re-roofing of the entire building, remodelling the accommodation, and extensions to the ground and first floors.

She avoided the classic nightmare of living with builders by initially converting the coach house, where the family lived as work continued unimpeded in the main house. Experts who helped to move things along at various stages of the project included Tony Salmon of Cirencester-based architects Yiangou and garden designers Jameson Stamp.

The result is a beautifully designed, free-flowing country house of rare quality, with 10,900sq ft of accommodation on three floors, including reception and piano halls, three main reception rooms, an orangery, two studies, a kitchen/breakfast room and various domestic offices on the ground floor.

Above there is a spacious master-bedroom suite and four further en-suite bedrooms on the first floor; plus a bedroom/sitting room, a bedroom and a shower room on the second floor.

Other amenities include a pair of semi-detached cottages, party barn, swimming pool, tennis court, petanque pitch and a range of traditional outbuildings with development potential.

Baughurst House is for sale through Savills at a guide price of £15 million — see more details and pictures.