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Walk through bluebell woods to Babington House from this 6-bed family home that's set in the middle of a pretty Somerset village near Frome. Read what the owners of this heritage house have loved about living here...could you be next?
The Old Vicarage at Kilmersdon
Describe how you felt when you first saw this house…
We moved to Kilmersdon just over 20 years ago, after falling in love with the house the moment the front door opened, revealing the huge, welcoming hall. Like a big hug.We couldn’t believe our luck.
The Hall at The Old Vicarage, Kilmersdon, described by the current owners as feeling like a "big hug"
What do you remember about your first months here?
That there was a lot to do - and nothing to do. The house was untouched so retained all of its original detailing…including Victorian wallpaper!
Do you have a favourite room?
If pushed, I suppose it might be the hall. It’s the heart of the house and all other rooms lead off it. We put the Christmas tree in one corner and light the wood burner on Christmas eve. It has a lovely shell cupboard, an ancient casein floor and a wide glazed door leading to the kitchen. The Coach House is an amazing, light space. We opened an Art Gallery when we first moved here. Then it became the best ever place for children’s parties. It has great potential to be almost anything…
The Coach House, which is very light inside as has been used as an art gallery and for children's parties over the years
The Old Vicarage is certainly steeped in history, what do you know of its past?
I always describe the house as Medieval with Georgian improvements. We have a small pamphlet written by a woman who lived here in the 1800s. Her description of village life is so interesting. She loved the house and was very put out when her father, the vicar, built a new Vicarage on nearby School Lane!
Tell us about the outside space…
The canal and formal garden is a very peaceful and private place. We sit on the bridge with a coffee and feed the fish. There are also newts, frogs and toads in there. The beautiful yew hedging creates a room separating from the lawn and vegetable patch.
Part of the formal garden, which is very peaceful, despite the house being in the centre of the village
Where do you recommend visiting nearby?
When we bought The Old Vicarage we had no idea that member’s club and hotel, Babington House, had opened 6 months earlier. We can walk there through the most magical bluebell woods. It’s an amazing bonus to see film previews and meet friends there. It turns out that Somerset is home to many like-minded creative folk. So many opportunities for theatre, exhibitions, films and shopping! Frome has an amazing Independent Market every month with local, seasonal and regional food and drink producers and vintage fashion, collectibles and furniture.
We love all the walks around here, especially the cycle track just above us. You can cycle to the Talbot Inn in Mells as well as Bath and Bristol if you’ve a mind. Bath, Westbury and Frome are all equidistant stations. You can get to London in about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Sitting room at The Old Vicarage, Kilmersdon
And Kilmersdon itself?
The house is in the centre of the village, yet also very private. The village has a very active core and we have a village day as well as an apple pressing events and a Wassail every year.
What will you miss most about living here?
This is the most beautiful house we will ever live in. It was a fabulous family home with many happy memories. So many rooms and spaces for family to go. On the kitchen door jamb is the record of the growth of our children and their friends…marking such very happy times here.
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We already cover the length and breadth of Somerset with our Bruton and Wells branches - but now we can add Dorset to the list! We're so pleased to welcome Simon Neville-Jones as our new manager responsible for Dorset sales. He's based in Shaftesbury - let us introduce him to you...
Simon Neville-Jones: Our new manager for Dorset, pictured at the top of Shaftesbury's Gold Hill
Welcome Simon! Tell us a bit about what you are doing for Lodestone and why?
I was looking to work for a company who is trying to do agency differently and as Lodestone is the only agency operating locally who are serious in their wish to fuse modern technology with traditional agency, I jumped at the chance to work with them. I am the manager covering north Dorset, linking up with the existing branches in Bruton and Wells in Somerset.
Are you a Dorset native?
Yes, I was born in Wareham and have worked in the county all my life, so I have lots to recommend about Dorset (see below). Now I live three miles from Sherborne in an unspoilt village surrounded by open farmland.
What does Dorset offer in terms of property?
North Dorset offers a huge variety of property ranging from manor houses, contemporary houses, old rectories, farmhouses and cottages covering all periods. Villages include Child Okeford, Marnhull, Yetminster, Okeford Fitzpaine, Shillingstone, Farnham, Tollard Royal, Nether/Over Compton, Trent, Sutton Montis, Donheads. Smaller towns include Sturminster Newton and Tisbury.
What are your plans for Lodestone?
I'd like us to provide an alternative to the usual High Street agents in Dorset. I want vendors and buyers to see us as their first port of call if they are buying or selling. We will become the go-to agents for this area. Think Shaftesbury - Think Lodestone.
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We love to innovate, which is why we're really excited about our brand new events, Property Pop-Ups, where we bring the advice to you! Read on to find out what they're all about, what happened at our first do and how to catch the next one.
Here at Lodestone Property we like to be different. For a start, we don't have high street shop fronts, but instead locate our branches in office spaces and investing in excellent people and marketing instead. This radical approach to estate agency also frees up our thinking about how to meet our customers, which is how we came up with Property Pop-Ups. We believe that getting to know communities is paramount when it comes to being able to help people move home, so we thought - why not be proactive and go out and meet residents directly on their home turf? This in turn makes us better agents as we're able to visit and understand the needs of areas better. And as far as we know, we're the first estate agency to run these but if you think otherwise, do get in touch via the contact page. We've certainly not heard of them in Somerset.
Our very first Property Pop-Up - Wells 17th January 2020
Our very first event was on Friday 17th January 2020. Alex Relf, one of our sales advisors based our the Wells branch in Chamberlain Street, along with Kate Lewis from the Lettings Department and Managing Partner Cathy Morris-Adams, took up residence at The Swan in Wedmore, Somerset and asked locals and contacts to come along for free coffee and free property advice.
From L-R: Managing Partner Cathy Morris-Adams, Wells Sales Advisor Alex Relf and Lettings Advisor Kate Lewis
The turnout was brilliant: not only were they visited by residents, but also professionals interested in property, like councillor Polly Costello (below, bottom left picture) and architect Steve Collier (below, bottom right picture). Says Alex Relf: "Not only did we connect with a local councillor in Wedmore but we also found a fabulous new member of our viewing team and were invited to value several houses, so we're really pleased with the result. I think the pop-up worked so well because local residents could meet us and get to know us in a relaxed local setting and get immediate advice - it made life easy for them."
The Lodestone team with Wedmore residents and contacts.
The Next Event - Bruton 29th Jan 2020
In fact, we were so pleased with the results that we are running another Pop-Up, this time in Bruton - only this time we will be joined by 14 other suppliers from the property industry, from the worlds of finance to interior and garden design, making this an invaluable way to pick up free expert advice to help you in your property journey. And of course our sales team from our Bruton branch in Station Road will be on hand with americanos, cappucinos and plenty of advice.
The Big Bruton Property Pop-Up takes place on Wednesday 29th January At the Chapel in the High Street, between 9.30am and 12.30am and we'd be delighted if you could join us.
Note on Travel: At the Chapel is on the High Street, which will be temporarily closed, but there are alternative routes to the parking on Higher Backway and Godminster Cheese car park, depending on your approach route. There is also road parking available around the town. For further details and info about public transport details please see our Facebook Event listing here
On hand to answer any questions you have are:
Lodestone Property - Sales & Lettings
Cubis - Sales team for new Bruton development
Jacquie Hamshaw - House Styling
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Find out what inspired the man behind The Beeches - a beautiful family home in the Chew Valley's East Harptree
What made you choose this area?
Firstly, the site is situated right on the edge of the Chew Valley which is a sweet spot for travelling to Bath and Bristol and Wells is only 10 mins away. Not to mention and all of the great Somerset schools south of the Mendips like Wells Cathedral School and Millfield. The views from The Beeches are amazing and are far reaching across to the Brecon Beacons.
Was this your first construction project ?
No, I’ve been involved in building from the age of 11 when my parents moved out to the Chew Valley and I have to admit I did quite a bit of knocking-off school because I was working on their new house which was being built!! I have built half a dozen places over the years each and every one of them has been a stepping stone to get to this level.
What materials did you use in the construction of The Beeches?
We changed the planning of the site and built with traditional materials: oak, stone, glass and slate. From the exterior it looks like a traditional build would, but when you walk inside you can see it has a very contemporary and modern feel to it.
What's special about this house?
This project incorporates all the modern benefits of a high spec new house, including smart lighting systems which you can control remotely and a heat recovery system that filters the air throughout the house continuously. Another essential benefit is the high speed fibre broadband which has been bought into the house giving you a virtually unlimited broadband speed.
How many bedrooms are there ?
Five - each has its own en-suite wet room.
Who designed the kitchen ?
A local, Frome-based company called Papilio. The kitchen has every conceivable option including 4 oven Aga and a full Gagganou suite of appliances.
Are there any fitness facilities ?
There is a separate air-conditioned office space along with gym and steam room.
Did you consider security features ?
We have incorporated a high spec camera system, alarm system and video entry from the front gate and front door that can all be remotely controlled, viewed and operated.
Yes - there's a bio-mass boiler which is fully automated and monitored by the manufacturer online. The property has a CO2 footprint which is rated at A and has a score of 97 - the higher the rating the less impact on the environment.
Finally, how do you feel about the house now it's complete?
From the bronze front doors and the dry stone walls (which we carried through from the entrance wall and incorporated internally in the house), it's been a pleasure to put this home together. And while The Beeches is a substantial size, it feels homely for a small family but has the capability of handling large parties as well.
For more information click here or call our Wells branch on 01749 605088 to book a viewing
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Property developers are the mysterious figures behind many new homes in the UK. So we thought we'd lift the veil on Acorn Property Group, who've created Cubis Bruton, by asking them to explain their ethos to you
Please tell us who you are and where you are based
We're an independent development and regeneration specialist with nearly 25 years experience in the property industry. We have successfully created a range of bespoke residential-led refurbishment and new build schemes in some of the most exciting locations within the UK. Cubis Bruton is a project managed by our Bristol team. Our head office is based in London and we have further regional offices in Cardiff, Exeter and Newquay.
The Cubis Bruton development by Acorn Property Group
How would you describe your mission statement and design ethos?
Our “Different by Design” ethos means we strive to ensure that all our developments provide interesting, complementary and sustainable architecture that revitalise and reinvigorate the areas around them, while meeting the needs of the local community.
Tell us what inspires your work.
The local community definitely plays a key part in the inspiration behind our work, as well as an appreciation of the local heritage and surrounding environment. Making headlines as ‘the most fashionable place to live in the UK' by The Times, we were really excited to work with Bruton which is becoming increasingly known for its creative arts scene and contemporary culture. Contributing to the community is very important to us and is an imperative factor when considering a new project. We want to give back to those we work with; therefore we actively encourage our team members to get involved in fundraising. In 2018 alone we raised a fantastic £11,700 in charitable endeavours across the UK and overseas.
The Show Home at Cubis Bruton is open Thursday-Monday, 10am-5pm. Please call 07712 526442 to book a viewing.
How do you select your new sites and projects?
We select sites based on strong local demand, sound regional business and population growth. Always in highly regarded and sought after locations, we bring the very best in tasteful living and modern design whatever the size or value of the development. Land supply is mainly from brownfield sites with 85% of Acorn developments built on these.
How important are ecological concerns to your work?
They are an extremely important part of our work. Regardless of the size or scope of project, the environments in which we work are always carefully considered.
Over the years, we have built up significant experience in developing and designing sustainably. For example, we provide extensive planting, landscaping and green roofs to enhance the amenity and setting of our projects. Our teams also look at a sustainable water attenuation strategy, possible ecological enhancement, tree planting and structural landscaping for each development.
What makes your work stand out from the crowd?
Our innovative, bespoke designs. For Cubis Bruton we were particularly excited to bring highly-regarded local architect Mark Merer’s designs to life. Mark’s passion for sculpture and his ability to unite objects within their natural environments meant Cubis Bruton was the ideal project for him.
How did the company start, when and why?
The business was established in 1995 by a group of passionate people who wanted to create beautiful, bespoke properties that stand out for their uniqueness. Since then we have grown into a team of over 120 people who are truly talented and passionate about what they do. This shows in the awards we have won: this year we were extremely honoured to win the ‘Developer of the Year’ title at the Bristol Property Awards and ‘Best Residential Development’ for Brandon Yard, our Bristol Harbourside development. In addition to these we were proud winners of the 2018 Bristol Life Awards property category. It’s been great to receive so much recognition for our developments in Bristol and across our other regions.
The award-winning Brandon Yard development by Acorn Property Group
Describe some of your “best” “favourite” “most successful” projects and why
Our Bristol development, Brandon Yard, has arguably been one of our most successful projects. With the refurbishment and conversion of two Grade II listed gasworks buildings, this scheme provides a wealth of history and its unbeatable harbourside location makes it a truly special project. Hope House, our prestigious development in central Bath has also been a favourite of ours. Set within six acres of parkland and featuring the conversion of a majestic Grade II listed building, this one of a kind scheme provides a new scale of sophisticated luxury homes and we hope Cubis Bruton will follow in the footsteps of these amazing projects.
We all learn from experience - what would you say your company has learnt from experience and please give details.
Innovation is key to our success which has taught us to continue pushing our creative boundaries and championing our “Different by Design” ethos, the foundation to all our work. As one of our most highly anticipated schemes, Cubis Bruton is a great example of this and we’re proud to be delivering such a unique project with a key focus on energy efficiency and sustainable living.
Cubis Bruton at night
Please describe some outstanding suppliers you have worked with and why
With a wealth of experience and unique approach to materials, Emily Bizley was the ideal interior design partner for Cubis Bruton. Fusing modern design with charming character, Emily’s use of natural materials and hand-crafted objects was perfect for the Show Home at Cubis Bruton. We were also very excited to work with local garden designer, Judy Cole, who helped transform the site through beautiful landscaping in keeping with the natural surroundings of Bruton.
What do you think are the top elements of successful British house development and why?
As a specialist in the creation of bespoke homes, the needs of the local communities in which we build have always been at the forefront of our projects. Backed by the Government’s 2018 ‘25 Year Environment Plan’ which proposes a set of house building principles around green communities, community creation has become an imperative element within successful housebuilding.
Equally as important though is the housebuilders’ ability to create sociable homes that accommodate the needs of modern life, for example, the space to work from home. To enable this, developers must continue to push creative boundaries through innovative schemes that centre sustainability and energy efficiency but does not compromise beautiful design.
Acorn combine sustainability with contemporary design
What can buyers expect from living in one your developments?
Our buyers can expect high quality, bespoke designs that work in harmony with the environments and local communities which surround them.
Set in a natural amphitheatre, buyers of Cubis Bruton can expect energy efficient and highly sustainable designs both internally and externally. Some of the features include flexible open plan living, contemporary fitted kitchens, underfloor heating, a minimum of 2 parking spaces per home and contemporary landscaping to name just a few.
Cubis Bruton suits all kinds of lifestyles, from family life to downsizing
What innovations do you expect to see in British house building and design in the next 20 years?
We expect to see a significant shift in the way sustainability is adopted in the design process, supported by the Housing Secretary’s recently released ‘green standard’ policy – a new green standard for new build homes.
We anticipate a strong focus on sustainable building methods across the industry with particular emphasis on SMART home automation technology. The importance of sustainability will inevitably play a large part in this, with the housebuilders role to ensure impact on the environment is kept minimised throughout the entire process.
With this in mind, we expect to see designs centred on health and wellness with housebuilders acting as advocates for healthy, sustainable homes that put residents’ health and wellbeing at the heart of the building.
Why have you chosen to work with Lodestone?
Working with us on Cubis Bruton, Lodestone makes for a great partner with their extensive knowledge of the Somerset region combined with their expertise, enthusiasm and dedication to the project.
For more information about Cubis Bruton click here or ring the Show Home on 07712 526442 to make an appointment to view. The Show Home is open Thursdays-Mondays, 10am-5pm