Thursday, 13 December 2018

Former judge’s house blends old and new and enjoys unique views

THE popularity of cycling is testament to its green outdoorsy appeal, and some of us are even lucky enough to

THE popularity of cycling is testament to its green outdoorsy appeal, and some of us are even lucky enough to live somewhere where there’s a beautiful route just outside our front door — as is the case with Jane and Dominic Knight, who bought five–bedroom Ashdown House on the outskirts of Streatley and Goring 20 years ago.

“Grab your mountain bike and within minutes you can be bowling along a quiet country lane,” said Jane. “You can bike up the Ridgeway via Rectory Road.”

The house lies on the southern edge of Streatley in an elevated position off this latter road. “We were attracted to the house as we could see the potential to make a lovely family home for our boys, who were still young back then,” said Jane.

Personally, Jane prefers a walk to a cycle. “I enjoy taking our dogs, Fleur and Teasel, for walks on the National Trust land immediately behind our house,” said Jane. “You simply access it by a gate in our garden.”

Ashdown House is in a unique position as it’s a short walk from the centre of Streatley. However, being on a hill it manages to enjoy fine views over the Thames towards South Stoke and White Hill, with direct access to National Trust–owned Lardon Chase and Lough Down behind it.

Built in 1901, the Knights’ late Victorian house is also beautifully presented. But it wasn’t always this way. “The house was in such a state when we first arrived that we didn’t move in until the second year,” said Jane. “Previous to us, it was owned by an eminent high court judge, Sir Hugh Mais, and nothing had been done to it for 50 years. We spent the first year gutting and extending it in two directions — with new electrics, plumbing, and later a new roof.”

That was back in 1995. Now the Knights have updated and redecorated and the piece de resistance is the part–glazed extension, which incorporates the beautiful fitted kitchen/breakfast room, utility room, family room and dining room with doors opening on to the garden.

“The house started out as two cottages and was made into one house in the 1920s,” said Jane. “The lady who was born in one of the bedrooms when it was two cottages came for a visit shortly after our renovations and was amazed.”

Now, when she’s not out walking, Jane can usually be found in this extended area. “I think we’ve managed to blend the old and the new very well with the extension,” said Jane. “The kitchen is lovely and is always the heartbeat of the house. However, I also like the drawing room as the bay window is the perfect place for my husband’s grand piano.”

From the kitchen/breakfast room part of the extension, a wrought iron spiral staircase leads up to a conservatory which has doors out to the upper garden.

Also on this floor are found the two principal bedrooms (one of which has an en suite), a smaller bedroom, a family bathroom and a shower room. A staircase on the landing leads to a second floor which has two further good–sized double bedrooms.

Back on the ground floor, the house is accessed via an entrance lobby with a WC/cloakroom, and a large hall area as well as a huge 28ft (8.6m) long drawing room.

Outside there is a separate garage block with parking for six cars (Standard Property thinks it would make an excellent annexe or home office block), as well as gardens and grounds of 0.603 acres, all of which have been carefully designed to take advantage of the far–ranging views across the valley. The garden comprises several terraces — the main one lying directly south of the house with a circular stone terrace and lawn enclosed by well–stocked herbaceous borders and shrubs.

Steps lead down to a further lawn with rose pergola, and up to a gravel pathway flanked by further borders, which leads to the conservatory and summerhouse. From here the land slopes up to the western boundary where a further grass terrace allows you to enjoy the magnificent views.

“We love it here, so it will be hard to leave,” said Jane.

“But our boys have grown up and flown the nest, plus my husband and I are both retiring, hence it’s time to move on ourselves.

“Of course, we probably won’t move very far, though — what’s not to like about this area?”

Jane thinks the house would be ideal for a young family. “Particularly if they like sport as Goring [the River Thames separates the villages of Streatley and Goring] has everything to offer,” she said.

“Goring has many clubs: sailing, rowing, tennis, football, to name but a few. Plus interest groups covering art, history, amateur dramatics, bridge, Scouts, gardening... In fact everything a young family needs to thrive. The Goring and Streatley Golf Club is also walkable from the house.”

Those who don’t fancy any of these could always revive the outdoor tennis court. Jane said:

“Many years ago our top lawn was a tennis court, so new owners could easily reinstate it.”

For sale with Jackson–Stops & Staff. Guide price: £1,650,000. Call (01491) 871111 for further details.

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