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Lower Downside Farm
A large four-bedroom Victorian family home in Somerset, with stunning vistas and light-filled rooms -
it’s easy to see why this "Hidden Gem" is our latest featured house.
So, I’m looking for a home with lots of land – does this fit the bill? Absolutely – Lower Downside Farm near Shepton Mallet in Somerset is set in 6 acres, with bucolic views to boot. Not only can you look across glorious Somerset countryside here, you also benefit from beautiful gardens which have been professionally designed and that are easy to maintain. These include three hundred trees including silver birch, fruit trees and blossoming cherries which enhance the scenery, creating avenues that draw the eye beyond.
There are over 300 hundred trees at Lower Downside Farm, creating avenues for the eye
Fabulous. Any room for our very own Black Beauty? Yes, there’s a paddock and outbuildings.
I can see someone’s going to be rushing home from school every day! Quite. Luckily there are excellent private and state schools nearby, like Millfield, Downside and All Hallows Prep School (all within 20 minutes) and it’s less than 40 minutes to Bath, so it won’t be long until the pony will be fed and watered.
Brilliant. Tell me more about the house itself. It looks like it should be in a Sunday night drama….we agree! It has a lot of history to it as it was once owned by the Duchy of Cornwall - there are pictures of King Edward VII and Prince Charles visiting as part of their duties. It’s Victorian and as you would expect, plenty of period features remain. For instance, the rooms have high ceilings and the sash windows let in ample light. Then there’s a Victorian grate and open fire in the kitchen and a Victorian mantle with log burner in the downstairs study. There is the most beautiful half landing window with amazing far-reaching views, so it takes longer to get upstairs than in most houses!
The kitchen is large, well-fitted and includes an Aga
Hmmm, does this mean we’ll need to swap our 2019 lifestyle for Nineteenth Century? Not at all, as the house has been enhanced by the current owners to blend past and present. For a start, the rooms are generously proportioned. The kitchen is large and exceptionally well-fitted, including a four oven AGA and opens onto a family sitting room. The formal sitting room faces due south over the garden and your own land whilst the dining room has also been opened up into a substantial David Salisbury-built orangery which creates the most fabulous entertaining space with stunning views of the countryside and it captures day-long sunshine.
The dining room has been opened up to include an Orangery designed by David Salisbury
My solicitor’s on stand-by! But what about upstairs? You won’t be disappointed. An elegant, wide staircase leads to a galleried, first-floor landing, which has a glorious picture window off the half-landing. The master bedroom is south-facing, overlooking the garden and paddock, whilst the adjoining, large en-suite has bespoke, fitted cupboards and a huge walk-in shower.
There are three other bedrooms, right? Is there scope to create even more – in case we want to Airbnb for example, or the extended family crashes here at Christmas? Yes, because the current owners actually reduced the number of bedrooms from five to four so they could have bigger rooms, so it would be easy to revert to five again. They have also had some plans drawn up to convert the roof space to an apartment with bedroom, bathroom and sitting room if required.
Lower Downside Farm has four large bedrooms and the master is south-facing and overlooks the garden and paddock
Idyllic! But hang on, given that it sounds so self-sufficient and rural, I’m not going to go days without seeing another human am I? Don’t panic, because while there’s plenty of room to live, work and play in peace here, the market town of Shepton Mallet is just a few minutes away, providing easy access to all the usual amenities, as well as Kilver Court and the renowned Mulberry store, which offers fabulous designer shopping and the necessities like supermarkets are close by too. The ancient Cathedral city of Wells is only five miles away and offers a wider range of shops including a twice-weekly market, plenty of coffee shops and restaurants, local supermarkets include Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco. Wells has a thriving cultural scene with concerts from the Cathedral School to regular art gallery events and the very well attended Wells Literature Festival and Food Festival. You’re also within easy reach of the very fashionable small town of Bruton which has the very popular restaurant/coffee/bread shop called ‘At the Chapel’ and the world famous Hauser & Wirth Art Gallery. Frome which has numerous markets and is renowned for its independent shops and vibrant creative scene is less than half an hour’s drive away. Its also centrally located for both Bristol and Bath (approx 20 miles) with excellent access to the M4/M5 and mainline stations. Finally there are also trains that run from Castle Cary (approximately 9 miles) to London Paddington taking approximately 90 minutes. Bristol Airport is 20 miles away.
For more info please click the link here or call our Wells office on 01749 605088 to make an appointment to view.
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West Pennard House
Welcome to the first in our new series called Lodestone Property Pick - where we turn a spotlight onto one of our houses for sale in Somerset and highlight its advantages. Today we're featuring a five-bedroom family home that's just a short drive from both Millfield Prep and Senior Schools.
Wow, this house is breathtaking – but why is it a “Hidden Gem”? It’s surrounded by verdant Somerset countryside yet only a short stroll to West Pennard Primary School, a five-minute drive to Millfield Prep School and a fifteen-minute drive to Millfield Senior School.
Nice and easy for the school run then? Absolutely, but there is so much more to this home than the location. From the moment you come up the gravelled driveway, you know this is something special. You can see straightaway it's an impressive period property (it was built in 1830 and not listed). Wisteria and climbing hydrangea cover the front and when you enter you're greeted by a fabulous hallway with an elegant sweeping staircase. Downstairs, there are design delights in every room, from the stone mullion windows and original fireplaces in the living rooms, to the large dining room with partly glazed French doors, one of which leads to the garden and the other to an enclosed terrace, perfect for evening drinks.
Making an entrance: The elegant hallway at West Pennard House
Drawing room with log burner and garden views
What about the kitchen? It’s always the heart of the home after all…it’s a dream. Much lighter than you’d expect from a period property, thanks to double height glass panels which allow light to flood the room. It’s spacious with an Aga, an original flagstone floor and there’s even a second kitchen with utility rooms and access to an outside courtyard.
Cooking up country-style with an Aga and flagstone floors
And my wine collection? Easily stored in the cellar
Fabulous. Now what is upstairs? I’m imagining spectacular views… that’s right! There are five generous bedrooms and three bathrooms. The master suite (with double walk-in shower) overlooks the garden, which was originally designed by Penny Hobhouse Associates. There’s 2.25 acres of fully-landscaped borders, mature hedges, floodlit weeping willow and lime trees, a vegetable patch, apple orchard, from which 100 bottles of apple juice are made each season and greenhouse…but for fans of Glastonbury Tor, bedroom five on the second floor has a view of the county’s most iconic historic building.
The master bedroom
The master ensuite has a double walk-in shower!
I’m ringing the removal firm already! And we haven’t even told you about the heated outdoor swimming pool or the tennis court yet – not forgetting the large treehouse that’s been used as a honeymoon suite in the past.
The vegetable garden
There's a tennis court and swimming pool too
This house really does have it all! Yes, it does – and on the opposite side of the drive from the house, there’s also a generous garage block including parking for two cars, a spacious workshop area and tool store with attached gym/games room (formerly stables) with attractive views over the lawn via floor to ceiling glass windows. Separate access and proximity to the entrance mean that you could convert it to an office or even an Airbnb (with relevant planning permission) and it wouldn’t intrude on the main parts of the property.
Back garden at West Pennard House
Hang on a moment – given that it’s a ‘Hidden Gem’, does this mean I have to kiss the outside world goodbye and prepare for a life of Ocado and Netflix? Not at all. While the house has plenty to offer in terms of space in which you can socialise and/or work from home, it’s also really well located to make the most of West Pennard village and surrounds. The village is very active with an excellent primary school, a village hall and popular pub. Nearby Glastonbury has all the doctors, pharmacies, dentists, clubs, supermarkets and sporting facilities you could want. It also has restaurants, independent shops and cafes and bars too, as do the fashionable towns of Frome and Bruton which are half an hour drive away. These two places are often on lists of top places to live in Britain, because of their independent shops, galleries and eateries, like Hauser&Wirth gallery, At The Chapel and Caro Somerset in Bruton. Bath, Bristol and Yeovil are all within easy commuting distance too and the train station at Castle Cary is less than 10 miles away and has direct links to London. Finally, there are excellent local schools including West Pennard’s own Primary School and the highly regarded Strode College Sixth Form College. Independent schools include the Millfield Schools, Wells Cathedral School, Downside, All Hallows and the Bruton schools.
How can I find out more? Click the link here and give our Bruton office a call on 01749 605099. Oh and one last thing – it’s not part of a chain.
This house is currently under offer April 2019
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The Old Vicarage, Oakhill
Steeped in history and surrounded by idyllic country views, this 7 bed family home in Somerset has everything a family needs - from large, light rooms, to a secret staircase to broadband and a five minute walk to the pub - just ask the owners....
The Old Vicarage at Oakhill, completed 1890
How long have you lived here and how did you feel when you first moved in?
We’ve lived here eleven years, since our children were 2 and 3 years old. We viewed so many properties during our house-search all those years ago but The Old Vicarage ticked all our boxes for the wonderful, spacious, practical and elegant family house we’d been looking for. We loved the historical background too. It was completed in 1890, apparently the result of simmering sibling rivalry between two local ministers -the Vicar of Oakhill & Ashwick Parish designed it and built it himself, on a majestic scale, primarily in order to outdo his brother’s more modest parsonage in the neighbouring parish. For us, moving in to The Old Vicarage with all the possibilities it presented as a long-term family home was simultaneously exciting and comforting, and we can’t think of a better house for our children to have spent their childhood.
Plenty of space for all the family, including the furry members
Describe some of your favourite memories about this house.
During out time here we've found that The Old Vicarage certainly lends itself to entertaining and large get-togethers - for a certain ‘significant birthday’, we hosted a legendary Summer BBQ & Karaoke Weekend for a group of university friends, mostly from London – a memorable Somerset getaway for them and an ideal venue to throw a relaxed house party for us. And of course, with enough bedrooms to accommodate grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, we welcome many relations to stay every year over the festive period. This is when the formal dining room comes into its own - and the large kitchen with plenty of work-space, four-oven Aga and separate electric oven means hosting Christmas Lunch for a crowd is easy.
Having the Coach House tucked away at the bottom of the drive also offers superb additional accommodation for family or friends when they come to stay. Those needing their own space can enjoy the seclusion of a comfortable, self-contained cottage with en-suite bathroom, fully-fitted kitchen, dishwasher and washer-dryer and their own private patio garden.
The Coach House is a brilliant addition to accommodation - gives certain guests or family members privacy, you could Air B'n'B it for extra income
What did your family enjoy about living here?
Apart from the location and the beautiful rural surroundings, we loved the sheer practicality of the space and the comfort and usability of every part of the house. The generously-proportioned bedrooms, the spacious kitchen, the grand formal dining room, the double-aspect sitting room – every part of the house works and fits our lifestyle completely. When the children were young, we used the ground floor study as a playroom. As they grew older, this converted to a Music Room for piano and violin practice. There are enough bedrooms upstairs to have at least a couple of guest bedrooms plus an office or an additional “snug".
One of the upstairs bedrooms
We hear that the kitchen is something special too..
Yes! It provides a really welcoming, sociable hub for the family. Its renovation was completed in 2013- bespoke, hand-made and hand-painted by kitchen specialists Smallbone of Devizes. The aim was to open up the kitchen into the Orangery, incorporating not only the natural light but also the far-reaching views across the garden and the fields beyond. A bright, airy and very practical room, the kitchen is the modern hub of the house. The Orangery end is large enough for both a dining table and a couple of comfy sofas, making the kitchen a really family-friendly, social space. The Aga, plus warm or cold air conditioning and the under-floor heating make it cosy in winter while the built-in Miele coffee machine, wine-cooler, Qooker boiling water tap and Miele Combi-Oven microwave satisfy our need for culinary mod cons!
One other feature of the house we particularly love is the huge, fully-fitted utility room, with its original grey flagstone flooring and the iconic “Sheila-Maid” ceiling-mounted, pulley-drawn clothes airer. As well as being a great space for managing the laundry, this room is the perfect “boot-room” for kicking off wellies after a walk on the village Rec or keeping the dogs’ beds and bowls (and muddy feet!) in their own space, out of the kitchen.
The kitchen is a welcoming social hub for the family, complete with light filled Orangery, ideal for dining
Describe your other favourite rooms and why you love them
This house is a fine example of the Victorian architectural style. All the rooms have magnificent proportions – high ceilings with intricate cornicing framed by broad doorways, generous sash windows and deep skirting boards. The house is bursting with carefully-preserved period features, from the stunning mosaic-tiled hallway to the sweeping oak staircase and pretty period fireplaces throughout the house. On the ground floor we added a Victorian “Thomas Crapper” cloakroom, complete with square, polished mahogany loo seat, high-level cistern and matching porcelain sink.
Isn't the attic suite a winner?
It is..over the decade we’ve lived here as a family, we’ve made many improvements to the house, not least the stunning attic conversion - which offers a comfortable, peaceful retreat and cinema room when the family hubbub below becomes a bit too much!. Completed in 2009 by Attic Life Ltd, the conversion won the South West Regional Builder of the Year Award in the Medium Renovations category. What we love about it is the contrast of the traditional bedrooms on the first floor against a wonderfully contemporary suite of rooms at the top of the house. It covers the entire footprint of the house and is soundproofed - a large bedroom area, a lounge area, two dressing rooms, a vast light-filled bathroom and even a kitchenette with built-in fridge (handy for making a quick up of tea in the morning before heading back to bed). A quirky feature which we added was the “secret staircase” – if you pull back the innocent-looking bookcase, a secret stairway is revealed, leading to one of the spare bedrooms below.
The bedroom in the attic master suite - ideal for family guests or Air B'n'B as it has a private internal entrance via a bookcase (below) and a kitchenette
There's a secret staircase to the attic suite hidden behind this bookcase!
Tell us about your garden
It's the perfect balance between sweeping, mature flower beds and wide, open expanse of lawn. We were very lucky that our predecessor had the mature beds and borders professionally planted up by an experienced horticulturalist so there’s a huge variety of wonderful flowering plants and shrubs, thoughtfully planted; the whole garden bursts into bloom in early summer. In addition, we created a fenced vegetable garden with six raised beds, where we've enjoyed growing everything from spinach and potatoes to kohlrabi and asparagus. The garden is perfect for children to play and dogs to roam, and we love it when the cows or sheep which regularly graze in the adjacent field trot over to peer at us over the fence (cows are particularly fascinated by piano practice, we discovered!)
The vegetable garden at The Old Vicarage
What do you love about the location?
Situated in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) The Old Vicarage is surrounded by quiet, pretty country lanes – great for dog-walking and cycling – and wonderful views across the Mendip Hills. The village is near the town of Radstock, Somerset but has many amenities of its own including a popular primary school, a busy doctor’s surgery, two churches and not least the celebrated Oakhill Inn with traditional local ales, an impressive collection of fine wines, roaring log fires and an award-winning fine-dining menu.
Soak up Somerset surrounding views from the balcony
The local community in Oakhill is hugely vibrant and energetic – there’s always something going on, from the weekly toddler group to the Oakhill & Ashwick local history society, the photography club, the Oakhill Choir, the Oakhill FC football team, the East Mendip gardening club, book groups, W.I. gatherings and tonnes of social get-togethers for all ages. The vicar’s annual “Sausage Sizzle” is legendary, along with the many charity fund-raising events which are regularly organised by local residents. In recent years the Oakhill Festival - shaking up the village Recreation Ground every summer during a weekend in July - has become a hugely popular live-music event, while The Harvest Festival & Produce Show in September has villagers eagerly vying for 1st Prize with their marrows, leeks and remarkable home-baking, all displayed in Oakhill Village Hall.
When you're not out and about taking part in village life, you can entertain yourself in your own Games Room
We keep up to date with everything going on in the village through the friendly Oakhill Village Life Facebook group, where more than 500 members swap news and views about living in the village. There is a close sense of community in the village – neighbours supporting each other, welcoming newcomers and offering help and assistance, it’s very uplifting to see such positive, close-knit community spirit. And I’m delighted to say that OpenReach has now brought the local broadband right up to superfast speed, so connecting to social media is never a problem! There are so many outdoor activities within easy reach, too. Both the Mendip Golf Club and Mendip Shooting Ground are just a couple of miles away, we’re very local to Cheddar Gorge and just 20 minutes from Chew Valley Lakes, for fishing and sailing. Being located on the Mendip Hills offers plenty of opportunity for walking, hiking, cycling and climbing.
While we love rural life, it’s exciting to be close to Bath and Bristol to take advantage of what both cities have to offer. Recently we were thrilled to pop in to see the visiting David Hockney painting “Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy” at the Holburne Museum in Bath, just 25 minutes’ away. Bath also offers wonderful Christmas shopping and some exemplary restaurants and bars.
The large family sitting room
Any other local tips?
The Oakhill Inn is just five minutes walk from the house and is the sister pub to the King William in Bath, about which The Times’ restaurant critic Giles Coren once wrote “…”So good it brings a tear to your eye…well worth making the train journey from London, even just for lunch.” In our opinion, the award-winning menu at the Oakhill Inn has just as much appeal as its Bath-based relation and it has become a very popular destination pub for discerning diners from across Somerset. In the nearby village of Holcombe, The Holcombe Inn is another fabulous country pub with an excellent menu and cosy atmosphere, while for curry fans it’s hard to beat the Mughal Empire, just five minutes away in Shepton Mallet. We’re regular customers there on a Friday night (or any night). If you need provisions to cook at home, there’s a huge Tesco Superstore in Shepton Mallet. Just over a mile from The Old Vicarage you’ll find Gurney Slade Stores and Post Office, a friendly, family-run village shop stocking most things you need for a quick top-up. Also convenient is a large Co-Op in the nearby village of Chilcompton. There are many excellent independent schools within easy reach of the house, including Downside Abbey just two miles away in the neighbouring village of Stratton-on-the Fosse. Wells Cathedral School is just 6 miles away and also within comfortable commuting distance are Millfield School, King’s Bruton, Bruton School for Girls, Sherborne, All Hallows Prep and Hazlegrove Prep. The choice of top independent schools in the area is extraordinary.
The Old Vicarage - perfect for family life
What will you miss about living here and why?
It's rare to find a house which works so well on so many levels - designed with a large amount of living space which comes together so effortlessly, located in such beautiful surroundings, in a village with so much to offer. The house has so many memories and has been our family home for most of our children’s lives, so I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to find a house which works for us as well as this one did, but our family life is evolving and it’s a challenge we’ll have to face!
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Building Faith in the Future
Lodestone appointed to oversee the sale of one of Wells' most historic religious buildings
When Lodestone launched in 2016, little did we know that just three years' later we'd be given the honour of marketing one of the Church's most loved buildings in Wells - The Old Deanery.
Last year, the owners, the Diocese of Bath and Wells, who use the building for their administrative staff, took the decision to relocate these offices more centrally. They therefore took the decision to sell The Old Deanery to fund their move and in January 2019 announced that we had been appointed to oversee the sale, working alongside the commercial arm of Carter Jonas.
We couldn't be more pleased to be trusted with this sale, as we understand the fondness it evokes in Wells' residents (as is evident by the fact it made the front page of the local newspaper). We're also aware of the importance of finding the right buyer. Said Cathy Morris-Adams, one of our managing partners: Cathy Morris of Lodestone Property adds, “Lodestone is delighted to be the appointed agent for the sale of The Old Deanery. Our team takes its responsibilities with regards to the sale of this prestigious building very seriously and we welcome discussions with the local community.”