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Sunday, 29 May 2022
A COTTAGE with two bedrooms and a beautiful private garden is on the market in Turville.
Maggie Yeo and her husband Nigel bought Belle Cottage almost 14 years ago. They live and work in London during the week and have used the house primarily as a weekend retreat.
Mrs Yeo said: “We wanted to find somewhere that was peaceful and tranquil and easy to commute to.
A friend of ours introduced us to this lovely amazing village called Turville.
“We found the cottage, fell in love with it, and have spent a lot longer here than we ever imagined we would. It has been a wonderful home for us.
“We bought it and then did it up within the first 18 months to two years.
“It was easy enough to project-manage because it was only 50 minutes from where we live in London, so I could go backwards and forwards quite easily to oversee things.”
The couple focused on improving the ground floor — reconfiguring the layout of the lounge, kitchen and bathroom — and redecorating throughout.
Mrs Yeo said: “We changed the colour scheme inside and kept to neutral colours. We ripped up all the floors downstairs and put in a stone floor with underfloor heating. The bathroom stayed at the back of the cottage but we ripped out the bath and put in a walk-in shower.
“Then we opened up between the kitchen and the lounge. We took a door out and moved the wall back slightly so that we had a nice U-shaped kitchen running into our lounge area.”
To enable them to move the downstairs interior wall, the couple installed supportive oak beams, in keeping with the traditional character of the property.
The ceilings in the lounge and kitchen are higher than in many old cottages.
Mrs Yeo said: “Downstairs you don’t have the worry of bending down and missing beams, you've got a lot of head height.
“Upstairs is a different matter because you’ve got the supports of the roof but downstairs you’ve got loads of headroom.”
Belle Cottage has two dormer bedroom windows in the tiled pitched roof.
There is a detached garage with overhead storage.
A climbing wisteria grows across the brick and flint front façade, and there are beds of box hedge balls and purple-flowering alliums on either side of the front path.
The couple have designed and nurtured a stunning back garden over the years, replacing most of what was growing there and building a courtyard with patio slabs and reclaimed wrought iron gates.
Mrs Yeo said: “The garden was the thing that sold the cottage to me because I wanted the outside space.
“Because it backs on to the churchyard, it’s very private and very peaceful and quiet.
“We wanted to create a space where you feel that you’re walking into a private walled garden. We kept the Bramley apple tree down at the end, which is lovely, but all the other hedging we took out.
“We put in two flowering cherries on the left-hand side and three Himalayan silver birches on the right to create height in a small space.
“All the planting means that the birds and animals feel very protected when they come in and you feel like you’re in your own private little world.
“You close the iron gates behind you, sit at the table and chairs and look at the garden.
“At night we put up-lighters under the trees, so you have this really lovely magical space in the evening as well as a very tranquil, calm place during the day.”
Turville is about eight miles north of Henley and is blessed with a handsome crop of historic buildings.
Belle Cottage is believed to have once been part of the stable block at 1, School Lane, which dates back to the 16th century and is Grade II listed.
Being exceptionally easy on the eye, the village is perhaps best known for the movies and TV programmes it has appeared in.
The Vicar of Dibley, Midsomer Murders and Goodnight Mr Tom were all filmed there and the windmill in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is just across the fields.
Mrs Yeo said: “I didn’t realise what an absolute treasure the village was. We bought the cottage purely because of its location, its closeness to London, but what it gave us was so much more than we ever imagined — the outside life, amazing neighbours, some great pubs nearby and great walks. For us, with two dogs, it was just fantastic.”
There are several traditional country pubs within walking distance of Belle Cottage, including the Bull and Butcher in Turville itself.
Mrs Yeo said: “There are so many pretty villages. You’ve got the Frog at Skirmett, which is brilliant, and then you’ve got the Chequers Inn in Fingest and that has got a lovely big garden out the back.
“You don’t have to go far to get a good pint or a nice glass of wine and a bit of food and then stroll home.
“My husband is a cyclist as well and the Chilterns are famous for cycling, so it was just the perfect location for everything we wanted to do.”
Turville is popular with tourists, especially during the summer, but Belle Cottage is set back from the village green on a no-through road.
“You’re completely removed from it,” said Mrs Yeo. “If you sit out in the garden you don’t hear any of the noise or activity that’s going on down in the village, it’s that secluded. It’s just really lovely. As a bolthole for a professional couple who just want to escape at the weekend, it’s an absolute piece of heaven.”
• Belle Cottage is on the market with Savills at a guide price of £595,000, with no onward chain. For information or to arrange a viewing, please call (01491) 843000.
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