Monday, 11 December 2017

To let: wing of ‘Toad Hall’

IF you’re tempted by historic property but you’re only in the market to rent, there is a very interesting opportunity new to the lettings market in nearby Whitchurch, which boasts a heritage as old as the Domesday Book, writes LUCY BOON.

IF you’re tempted by historic property but you’re only in the market to rent, there is a very interesting opportunity new to the lettings market in nearby Whitchurch, which boasts a heritage as old as the Domesday Book, writes LUCY BOON.



IF you’re sailing up the Thames, about one mile above Mapledurham on the right bank, you won’t fail to notice the rather remarkable-looking 16th century Hardwick House — the east wing of which has become available to rent.

Set in 900 acres, Hardwick House — with its towering chimneys, grand tracery and lead-glass windows — is the real deal when it comes to Elizabethan architecture.



Some rooms are almost entirely original 16th century. One of the most impressive of these is the first floor oak-panelled drawing room which features a ceiling plaster cast of Queen Elizabeth I, reputed to have stayed at the house on one of her many tours of the kingdom.

It was in this room too that current owner, Sir Julian Rose, the fifth baronet and leading figure in the world of organic farming, was born.

“According to family folklore, my mother was serving lunch to the family. She told the family that she was feeling a bit queasy, went up to the drawing room and, after I had popped out, went back downstairs and served dessert,” says Sir Julian.

And it was Sir Charles Rose, great-grandfather of the present owner and a good friend of Kenneth Grahame, who provided inspiration for the character of Mr Toad in The Wind in the Willows. A merchant banker, Sir Charles was also infatuated by fast cars — and many grainy photographs of him wearing motoring goggles and sitting at the wheel adorn the drawing room walls. The house is also mentioned in Jerome K Jerome’s 1889 classic Three Men in a Boat — the three friends row past Hardwick House and remark on the beauty of the setting. And what a setting it is. This 900-acre forestry and farming estate was one of the first in the country to be registered as an organic producer and organic farming has been practised here since the Seventies.

Having been home to the Rose family for many years, it the first time this private house has been offered to the public — albeit just the one wing — which makes this a very unusual opportunity.

Richard Maby, head of Savills Henley Lettings, who is marketing the property, says: “The history, architecture and idyllic riverside location of Hardwick House all contribute to making this one of the most impressive period properties I have personally seen come to the lettings market.

“While it is fairly usual to be able to rent a farmhouse or former coach house on a grand country estate, it is very rare indeed to have the opportunity to live in a major portion of the ancestral family home and take up the way of life that such an estate offers.

“The nature of this house is likely to appeal to couples or those with older children who may retain a main residence elsewhere and who want somewhere in the country to escape to during holidays and weekends.

“It is likely a tenant would take occupation and secure the property on a long-term basis, given the rarity of such an offering.”

The east wing of Hardwick House offers a grand hall with ornate plasterwork and oak staircase, drawing room, dining room, kitchen/breakfast room and cellar. On the first floor there is an oak panelled reception room as well as two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a utility room. On the second floor there are a further five rooms.



• The East Wing of Hardwick Hall comprising about 6,400 sq ft, is available to let now through Savills for £5,000 per month (plus fees). Call (01491) 843002 for more information.

Factfile:

East wing, Hardwick House, Whitchurch

Bedrooms: Seven

Bathrooms: Two

Reception rooms: Three, plus a very large hall on the ground floor, kitchen/breakfast room and a cellar.

Extras: Downstairs WC; utility room; garden surrounded by rolling river-side parkland and parking

Rent: £5,000 pcm

Fees: By its nature, the East Wing incorporates some shared services with the remainder of the house and the wider estate. Incoming tenants will therefore be asked to agree to make a contribution of about £1,000 per month to cover the appropriate share of the gardening, cleaning, water rates and council tax bills



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