FOR the most unusual of outlooks, you cannot go wrong with Blenheim Cottage — peek out of the window and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with an alpaca.
The property is a charming family home, tucked away on a very quiet lane in Ewelme, with countryside all around. Overlooking gardens and grounds which exceed 10 acres, Blenheim Cottage is a lovely combination of charm and character with a delightful farmhouse kitchen.
It also has a conservatory family room, dining hall, drawing room and five bedrooms, two with en-suites.
In addition to the living accommodation are a number of outbuildings, including an oak-framed garage barn, and stabling. There is also parking space for up to five vehicles. The property is currently home to a thriving alpaca breeding business, run by Mike Coghlan. Mike and his wife Kate Hill bought the property 16 years ago after he sold his company.
He said: “I had some money and embarrassingly fell in love with an alpaca the minute I saw it. At the time there was only around 1,000 in the UK compared to 40,000 now.”
With a lot of grass to keep short he bought eight breeding females to graze it. The flock grew to 140 at its peak — and gave him an excellent income from the business.
“I never regretted it for a moment,” he said. “But now at the age of 75 I am ready to wind down a little and move somewhere smaller — we certainly need a smaller garden.”
Mike and Kate, a professor at the Royal Academy of Music and a member of the English Chamber Orchestra have done a lot to their home in the time they have lived there.
Mike, who has four children and eight grandchildren, said: “It kind of evolved with us. We added the conservatory which has been the venue for some wonderful family gatherings. And the stunning oak-framed summer house is new. We built it as a music room for Kate and the glass doors completely open out, providing the perfect location for summer recitals.”
The original property is thought to date from the 1840s, and is thought to have been a stopping-off point for travellers to water their horses en route to London.
Recent renovations, while maintaining the property’s character and integrity, have made it a contemporary home to be proud of.
The dining room has a vaulted ceiling and both this and the sitting room have exposed beams. Mike is hoping to carry on tending his alpacas by renting some land next door, so they will still be neighbours to the new owners. Although a business first and foremost, he has become fond of the unusual creatures. He has named every one, starting with A and working through the alphabet. He recently reached P.
The property is available through Davis Tate for a guide price of £2,250,000. Call (01491) 412345.