Saturday, 21 May 2022

Extended Georgian cottage with links to railway pioneer

Extended Georgian cottage with links to railway pioneer

LITTLE BUTTS in Sonning is a charming three-bedroom cottage that dates back to 1805.

Stephen and Lyn Walker have lived in the house in Pound Lane for the last 25 years. When they bought it, it was run down and under threat of demolition.

Since then, the couple have lovingly transformed it into a comfortable family home by renovating and extending it and filling it with period furniture in keeping with its history.

“My husband’s a builder, so he does everything,” says Mrs Walker. “It was a two-up two-down, with a lean-to shed on the back.

“The original part is the front — the two bedrooms at the front and the dining room and sitting room.”

The couple have more than doubled the size of the house since they moved in. On the ground floor, behind the original two reception rooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room looks out over the garden.

There is an oak and glass garden room, accessed through double doors from the sitting room, that lets in plenty of sunlight.

Mrs Walker says: “It’s gorgeous. The house gets flooded by light when the morning sun comes up and around the back we get the evening sun.” There is also a study and a cloakroom downstairs. On the first floor, the Walkers have created three characterful double bedrooms, all of which have en suite bathrooms and built-in storage cupboards.

There are wood and tile stone floors throughout Little Butts but the bedrooms are carpeted.

The ornate fireplaces, wooden doors and exposed brickwork give the house a real sense of character.

The Walkers have painstakingly sourced suitable fittings and furniture over the years, including longcase “grandfather” clocks and antique settles (the high-backed benches in the kitchen) that are about 200 years old.

The original leaded-glass windows have been preserved and cleverly brought up to date, so that the house stays warm and beautiful at the same time.

Mrs Walker says: “They’re all original windows but we changed the frames — we got the frames made up to the original design — and there’s secondary glazing, obviously.

“We also have stained glass in the doors between the garden room and the sitting room. You can open them or close them, so you can make it as open or cosy as you like.”

It is believed that the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel stayed at Little Butts in the 19th century, when he was building the Great Western Railway between London and Bristol.

Whether or not this really is Brunel’s former residence, the house certainly has a long and interesting past. The Walkers have done it proud by updating it and preserving its Georgian heritage at the same time.

The private back garden is well-kept and stocked with evergreen shrubs, yew trees and box hedging. There is a vegetable garden close to the house, along with patio areas and a large lawn.

Crowning the top of the garden is the “wine den”, a brick structure with a roof and wood burner, where you can sit outside in all weathers and have a drink.

Mrs Walker says: “It was an original outhouse and my husband zhuzhed it up a bit. There are no doors on it but when you sit around the fire, and in the summer, it’s lovely.” There is also a garage and outdoor storage space at the property, along with a wide driveway at the front.

Mr and Mrs Walker are planning to move to Cornwall to be near their daughter and grandchildren.

“Our time here has been absolutely lovely so it’s going to be a big wrench when we go,” says Mrs Walker.

“If we could just pick it up and move it, we would, but I suppose it is time to move on, isn’t it? We love it here and the neighbours are fantastic.

“We do have chickens as well. They can stay if someone looks after them.”

Little Butts is on the market with Davis Tate at a guide price of £1,100,000. For more information or to arrange a viewing, call (01491) 412345.

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