Monday, 23 May 2022

Original features kept in period five-bed home

Original features kept in period five-bed home

A PERIOD property with five bedrooms in Lower Shiplake is on the market.

Ashdown House, which was built in 1906, is on Basmore Lane, a quiet no-through road that leads down to the riverbank where you can launch a small boat, canoe or kayak.

Max and Sarah McKean have lived there for the last 36 years, raising three children and entertaining various grandchildren, and now they plan to move to Henley.

When I spoke to Mr McKean, he and his grandson were paddling in the sunshine along Hennerton Backwater, a leafy section of the river teeming with wildlife that flows between Wargrave and Marsh Lock.

He said: “There are photos of Basmore Lane when it was just two rows of trees before it was developed, mainly we believe as holiday homes.

“People would come from London on the train and walk down the lane to their holiday homes and many of them would also have had a houseboat on the river.

“They would get there via Shiplake Green, which is still there. It has restricted rights so you can’t moor there, but you can launch boats if you have permission.”

The three-storey house is semi-detached with decorative brickwork and a gravel driveway.

The front door opens into a traditional entrance hall, where you can go upstairs or straight ahead into the kitchen.

On the right there are two reception rooms, the drawing room and dining room. They both have high ceilings, and the drawing room has a wide bay window at the front.

The ground-floor layout offers some flexibility because you can either close the doors and keep the drawing room separate, or you can open up the entire downstairs from the front all the way back to the bottom of the garden.

Several of the original features have been preserved over the years, including the large ceiling cornices, the handrails on the first-floor landing and an old-fashioned bell-ringer.

The hardwood floors in the reception rooms have been refurbished too.

Mr McKean said: “It was carpeted when we bought it but we felt that they were worth uncovering, sanding down and varnishing. They look good and we’re pleased with them.”

The couple have also extended the house at the back, adding a new kitchen/family room.

Mr McKean said: “We did it about eight years ago and, like everybody who has ever done an extension like that, we wish we had done it sooner.”

The contemporary kitchen now has underfloor heating and is fitted with integrated appliances, a gas Aga and dark grey units beneath granite work surfaces.

There is a utility room and a cloakroom at one end where the scullery once was.

The family room on one side of the kitchen is flooded with natural light from the roof windows above and the bifold doors that lead out to the garden. On the first floor there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. One of the two bedrooms is currently being used as a study but it could potentially be divided to create an en suite bathroom for the master bedroom that overlooks the back garden.

The staircase winds around and up again to the second floor, where there is a shower room and two further bedrooms.

Being under the pitched roof, these rooms are cosy and full of character, with their sloping ceilings and interesting angles, and also have a great view of the river. Ashdown House has two balconies — one at the front and the other at the back — which providing an extra 30 square metres of outdoor space.

The back balcony is located above the kitchen and accessed through the bathroom on the first floor.

A south-facing sun trap, it has wooden decking, white balustrade rails and space for some outdoor furniture and potted plants.

The owners have transformed the landscaped back garden. Mr McKean said: “It started off, when we had three young children, with much more grass and a climbing frame but life goes on and the garden has been developed to suit our different needs at different times.”

It is now well stocked with a selection of shrubs, plants and fruit trees. It has a patio and a lawn that runs underneath a pergola festooned with a flowering vine and wisteria.

At the end of the garden is a summer house with a wooden floor, antique windows and interior walls painted olive green.

Mr McKean said: “We haven't had it long. It was a garden shed up until a couple of years ago and we used it for storage but then Sarah decided to make it habitable.

“It has been fully insulated and has electric power and a little wood-burning stove which is remarkably effective.”

The skylights in the roof make this bonus room very bright and welcoming, so it could easily be used as a home office.

Ashdown House is on the market with Knight Frank at a guide price of £1,495,000. For more information or to arrange a viewing, call (01491) 844900.

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