Monday, 27 September 2021

Peaceful oasis in the ‘Hart’ of Henley

BEING one of only two remaining proper houses on Henley’s best known street, number 32

BEING one of only two remaining proper houses on Henley’s best known street, number 32 Hart Street has quite a history.

Dating from the 1500s, with Regency/Victorian additions, this Grade II-listed freehold townhouse a moment’s walk from Henley Bridge has been in the current owner’s family for some 60 years.

It was the Swinging Sixties when City worker Peter Frankenburg and his wife decided to retire to the country. They created a brand new life for themselves at 32 Hart Street, and made quite an impact on our town. They were said to be big on entertaining and very much part of the local community.

One local still recalls: “I remember him being the chairman of the local operatic society. He was quite a  well-known character. It was lovely when the Frankenburgs lived here. They had so many parties, and Mrs Frankenburg was quite the glamourpuss.”

Other residents remember her “tottering around town in heels” well into her 80s.

The house then passed to the couple’s niece, Lydia Frankenburg, whose children have lived in the property ever since, sometimes letting it to tenants.

As such, the house underwent an extensive refurbishment a few years ago, so not only is it chock-full of character but is extremely comfortable as well. You’ll find underfloor heating and a breakfast bar island sitting agreeably alongside wattle-and-daub plaster walls and inglenook fireplaces.

This clever amalgamation of the original and the modern has transformed this 16th century property into a light, bright and spacious 21st century family home over five floors (if you count the cellar).

The kitchen is at the back of the house and opens on two sides thanks to three sets of folding glass doors. It’s a high-spec affair, with soft-close units and Corian work surfaces, and is a light and bright room thanks to the south-facing garden on to which it backs.

There is a ‘formal’ dining room next door to the kitchen, if the kitchen-island isn’t large enough or the large garden terrace isn’t suitable for your dining purposes (i.e. it’s really cold outside!).

At the front of the house, accessed via a small hallway, is a very decent-sized living room — the ideal foil to the glossy kitchen. Cosy and inviting with its log-burning stove, this is surely ideal for the winter nights ahead.

If you fancy a bit of people-watching, the drawing room (or possible bedroom) on the next floor up, comes with a spectacular double-width bay window with a built-in window seat.

To discover today’s ‘special’ at Café Rouge you won’t even have to leave your own house.

Better still, if you like what the ladies-who-lunch are tucking in to at the pavement café, there’s nothing to stop you from popping over the road — and you can sleep off your meal in one of the four double bedrooms.

Floor four has two of these, both of which come with their own bathroom (one has a feature roll-top bath).

The top floor holds the final bedroom suite, with its built-in desk, plenty of eaves storage (spot the 16th-century builders’ marks) and its own bathroom — a great hideaway for a teenager, or perhaps a home office.

The views from up here are really quite spectacular. You manage to glimpse a side of Henley that very few of us are privileged to witness.

You get a close-up of the tower of St Mary’s and Henley Bridge on one side, while on the other you get the Park Place side of Remenham Hill and the Thames as it snakes away down to Wargrave.

Plus there are all those Henley rooftops to ponder over. So be wary of making this top floor your office as you could find yourself losing hours spent gazing out of the window.

Outside, the enclosed burgage garden is quite a surprise, seemingly carrying on forever, with walled boundaries on either side and shaded by mature trees. Access is from the kitchen, as well as a side gate (accessed from a path on Hart Street).

The garden changes its personality every 30 feet or so, including a lovely kitchen garden, until it finally arrives at the most unlikely treasure of all — a Second World War bomb shelter, which makes for an ideal storage unit.

Believe it or not, number 32’s garden is so long that you can spy the cars driving along Friday Street from this point.

Which brings us characteristically to the issue of car parking — which seems to be the number one Henley talking point, as anyone who lives here knows.

Standard Property wonders if a deal could be done with the owners of these Friday Street apartments — a piece of land for access rights/ parking here, perhaps?

In any case, residents’ parking permits are available to park in the surrounding street.

What’s more, the Frankenburgs say they currently rent a car parking space from one of the adjacent Hart Street businesses.

Phil Booth of Hart Street agency Philip Booth Esq, which is marketing the property, says he sees no reason why this arrangement couldn’t continue.

He said: “It’s a pleasure to be acting on behalf of the Frankenburg family in the sale of this much-treasured family home.

“It really is a very unique opportunity for someone to buy a little piece of Henley history — particularly with its burgage plot garden, which has been largely untouched since the land behind Hart Street was divided several hundred years ago.

“I can see the house suiting a variety of buyers — from a young family whose children would relish the garden, a retired couple looking for town centre living, or even those looking for a lock-up-and-leave property.”

But whoever buys this house, it’s safe to say that — with its mix of the grand, rustic and quirky, right in the centre of Henley — number 32 Hart Street is enduringly a joy to live in.

For more details, call Philip Booth on (01491) 635343.


32 Hart Street, Henley

Internal size: 2,421sq ft

Bedrooms: four/five

Bathrooms: three (two en suite)

Reception rooms: three/four

Other: entrance hall, cellar, underfloor heating to ground floor, south-facing 200ft garden with side access, air-raid shelter used as a store, downstairs WC, wood-burning stove/inglenook in the living room, open fireplace in the drawing room, immense historical significance, view of the street, river and St Mary’s Church, Grade II-listed, residents’ parking permits to park on the surrounding streets are available on application

Price: £1,100,000

Agency: Philip Booth Esq on (01491) 635343

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