WHEN looking for the ideal family home we generally have boxes we’d like to tick off
WHEN looking for the ideal family home we generally have boxes we’d like to tick off, such as enough bedrooms and bathrooms or a garden large enough to play football in.
But one family from Goring Heath had a completely different set of requirements when they went house-hunting in 2007.
When they came across a dilapidated former farmhouse in Tidmarsh, nestled in about 20 acres of woodland and pasture, crossed by Thames tributary the River Pang (fishing rights included), they knew they’d found what they were after.
A winding 500-yard driveway leads visitors past ponds, through trees, over bridges and among a variety of wildlife, not to mention the highland cattle (included in the sale) and the trout stream.
“It all denotes what this house is really about,” says owner Mark. “The plan was to construct a modern family home that would complement and capitalise on the beauty of its location.”
The result simultaneously intrigues and delights, for Bere Leys is a property of exciting contradictions. It may have the footprint of a traditional farmhouse (its name Bere Leys dates back so far it even appears on Ordnance Survey maps), but inside it’s all cutting edge and cool. Likewise, the house is equally hidden and accessible (it’s a rural idyll yet only four miles to the M4 and 35 miles to Heathrow).
“Aesthetically, the exterior was intended to reflect the local area and is reminiscent of the former farm,” continues Mark, who chose Oxford stone and cedar cladding for the main walls, steel for the large doors, and traditional thatch for the roofs of the four farm outbuildings, which are seamlessly connected, as is the grain silo, which is used as a home office. Step across the threshold, however, and one encounters a very different world, in which modernity meets practicality and convenience.
“The idea was to deliberately integrate external elements with the interior,” says Mark, whose plans started to take shape eight years ago. Now the finished property offers more than enough accommodation for a modern extended family — and then some. The accommodation extends to around 9,000sq ft, but the layout is versatile, with spaces that can easily accommodate large or intimate gatherings with multiple uses.
Upstairs there’s a vaulted master bedroom with balcony, dressing room and two ensuite bathrooms, four further bedrooms and bathrooms and a guest suite.
Downstairs, off the reception area, there’s a kitchen/breakfast room which leads into a vaulted hall with open-plan sitting room, a secondary sitting room with gallery above, a cloakroom, oval study/office, integral triple garage and a lift, as well as an indoor swimming pool, gym with shower room, games/playroom with bathroom, and a staff flat/annexe above a four-car garage that’s linked to the main house.
Polished concrete floors, vaulted ceilings and the use of wood and glass continue the theme of raw design and materials. But it is the light and space that makes Bere Leys so incredibly striking. The property has been sited at the centre of its 20-acre plot, which means every room enjoys a view across a different aspect of the grounds, be it river, pond, woodland or pasture. Large panes of glass, remote-controlled 20ft-high barn doors and 3m x 10m sliding doors all help bring the outside in.
“The space gets flooded with light, even on the most gloomy of days,” says Mark.
Tick boxes and more, Bere Leys remains a modern but magical country retreat where wildlife is abundant and the great outdoors is celebrated.
For sale with Savills at a guide price of £5.395million. Call (01491) 843000 for more information.