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Hampton Cottage, Evercreech
Find out what the owners of this pretty Grade II listed, Somerset home enjoy most about living there.
Hampton Cottage, Evercreech, near Bruton in Somerset
Tell us how you felt when you first viewed this house
Well, we've lived in Hampton Cottage for 39 years so that should tell you everything you need to know! From the moment my husband and I and our young daughter first walked in, we felt very happy, like we'd been wrapped in a secure, comforting blanket. It was only later that we learned from several surprise elderly visitors that it had been a halfway house for Dr Barnado's children. Here they'd found the same harmonious presence that we have.
The cosy kitchen
Tell us more about why this house is so special
This is a Grade II ancient building, the original cottage being some 300 years old. The Georgian style, Victorian frontage was added 100 years later. Over the years we have hugely improved the building, bringing it into the 21st century whilst being mindful of retaining its character and original features but there, of course, remains the opportunity for further changes to be made to suit individual tastes. There are different floor levels which reflect the two ages of the property with low, cosy rooms to the rear and lofty Victorian rooms to the front. It stands in a large walled garden that is extremely safe for pets and we have developed it into manageable areas that are planted with a variety of perennials and shrubs with a lovely pond under the shade of mature trees to sit beside and mull over the meaning of life!! We use the large south facing conservatory throughout the year and an ancient vine provides an amazing crop of black dessert grapes.
The owners of Hampton Cottage have created manageable areas in the large garden
What do you treasure most about living here?
It has to be the fantastic outlook across the extensive dairy farmed fields to the front with the rolling hills of the Mendips as a backdrop. An Iron Age fort stands atop the hill at Chesterblade slightly to the east and this is a local beacon point.
The south-facing conservatory has an ancient vine growing in the roof, providing a crop of black dessert grapes
What about the location?
The road that runs to the front of the property is a great asset because it gives you easy access to all the major routes north, south, east and west without having to negotiate narrow country lanes. Bath and Bristol are nearby. We came here from the South East and found that getting into central London was an easier and faster drive from here than the 45 mile distance from our home in Sussex!!! An alternative is the main line link to Paddington from Castle Cary just 5 miles away.
And the village?
It's is a tight knit, strong community that offers something for everyone with a wide variety of clubs, societies and activities of all types for all ages. The selection of local shops are great and both the pubs provide excellent places to meet, eat and sleep.
The rear view of Hampton Cottage
Where are you going now?
Such is our love of the immediate area and its environs that we will not be moving far away! A car accident some weeks ago has forced us to carefully consider our future meaning that we now need a smaller, single storey home and that is the only reason that we are leaving our much loved family home.
This house is currently off the market April 2019
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What it's really like living in: Hornbeam Lane, near Frome
We enjoy selling beautiful Somerset homes and are thrilled when the new homeowners collect the keys and move in. But sometimes we don't hear from them again. So we were so pleased to hear from a new occupant of our Hornbeam Lane development in Leigh on Mendip. Here's what she said:
"I was delighted to find this amazing development of just 7 individual houses in Leigh on Mendip. I can’t believe I have found this fantastic home and everything it has to offer!
The perfect location near Frome, Wells and Bath and yet surrounded by stunning countryside, with beautiful views from every window.
The house is superb with the attention to detail second to none. The standard of finish is of the highest quality and careful consideration has been given to every need of the homeowner.
There is a local pub within walking distance which has a friendly atmosphere and good standard of delicious home cooked food at a reasonable price.
These houses are a gem of a find!"
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How we made our business boom!
Charlotte and Brian Murray run the highly-rated B&B, The Old Parsonage in Farrington Gurney, Somerset, which has 5 stars on Trip Advisor. They moved to the area 11 years ago, for family reasons, but now circumstances have changed they are looking to pass the fruits of their hard work onto the right people… To help find the next owners, we asked Charlotte what she thought the 5 tips to building a successful guest house business are and why their property is such a find…
The Old Parsonage, Farrington Gurney
Do it for the right reasons.
“We started running B&Bs in 1987 when property was going bananas" begins Charlotte, "and I wondered how we could buy a much nicer family home than we could afford. By running a B&B I realised we could put lots of the costs against the business.” You can also choose when you want to work and also put your other skills to good use, like marketing or catering, as she explains: “I had cooked professionally and offered suppers when I began.” We assume she was also a dab hand at cooking breakfasts too!
The breakfast table
Choose or create the right flow– for you
“It’s very important to create the right layout for your own convenience,” says Charlotte, “so that you can separate your family life from guests.” One of the big advantages of The Old Parsonage is that it has two staircases, so that one never has to overlap with the other. “If I want to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night, for example, I can just slip down the back stairs” says Charlotte.
There are two staircases in The Old Parsonage
Bathrooms are essential
“Nowadays everyone is looking for the facilities of a hotel – so shared bathrooms are a no-no. “ says Charlotte. The couple were lucky with The Old Parsonage as this listed building, which had once been owned by The Duchy of Cornwall, had an unusually large number of bathrooms – three ensuite with the five bedrooms upstairs and a separate but sole-use bathroom for a studio guest room downstairs. There are also bathrooms with the four annexe rooms in the grounds.
Three of the five bedrooms in the main house are ensuite
Location is paramount
Being slap-bang in a busy area for visitors and your own family life is important emphasises Charlotte: “When we first moved here Brian was still working abroad quite a lot, so he needed to be near an airport and this is only 25 minutes away.” The Old Parsonage is set-back from the A37 which has proved invaluable for bookings. “It’s is a winner” she explains, “because you also have passing trade for those travelling down to Devon and Cornwall from the Midlands. It’s also located at the centre of a perfect triangle between Bath, Bristol and Wells (all about 15-20 minutes away), so there is so much on the doorstep for guests to do.”
Keep your online presence up-to-date
“We keep the website and Facebook page fresh with all the festivals and food and drink events in the area,” says Charlotte – and in Somerset there are many, which further adds to the attraction of staying here. It’s also important to be listed on booking sites like Booking.com (the biggest and best according to Charlotte) as they will always rank higher than your own website on Google – so they find you there and then go to your own social media for further info.
The Old Parsonage has annexes in outbuildings for further guest accommodation
3 WAYS TO TOP TRIP ADVISOR
- Make sure everything works every day, the whole time - Reviewers will mark you down if the facilities are not up to scratch.
- Make sure you excel in all the review criteria - On sites like Booking.com, guests receive lists with tick boxes as reviews, on Trip Advisor they receive a blank box. To ensure you get great reviews, make sure you are 10/10 for all of the choices they receive.
- Ensure your hosting is beyond brilliant - Charlotte and Brian regularly receive rave reviews about their hosting. They give their visitors a warm welcome with a cup of tea and plenty of details about the varied history of the house, which was once visited by Edward VIII. The Murrays are also always a mine of information the local area, which always impresses guests. To read the reviews click here
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Read all about us!
When you live and work in London, it's easy to imagine that the whole of media-land only focusses on what happens in and around the capital. So we're always tickled-pink when we're featured in the press, who are mostly based there. Just recently we've been blessed with two national mentions and pleased to see another for Bruton, all of which has led to some celebratory latte-drinking in the office (yep, as our local friends know, you can get a decent one outside the M25) - but being featured is hardly surprising when you look at how many breathtaking houses for sale in Somerset we have. It's also understandable why the press would want to feature areas of Somerset like Frome and Bruton too, when those towns are filled with creatives and entrepreneurs in the process of inventing a new kind of rural life away from the city (complete with barista coffee, promise)
1. The Telegraph
Saturday 10th November started off a treat when we opened The Telegraph on our kitchen tables to find a double page spread featuring one of our founders, Cathy Morris-Adams, in the Money and Property section. Cathy was interviewed extensively for the piece which discussed why creatives are moving to Somerset. It also included an interview with land artist Mark Merer and his wife, sculptor Lucy Glendinning, the designers behind the new CubisBruton development in Bruton, currently being built by Acorn Property Group and which we are marketing. And it featured two of our other houses too, The Old Vicarage near Wells and a house for sale in Frome that was once part of a school run by the poet Christina Rossetti.
The Telegraph piece photographed on a kitchen table!
2. CondeNast Traveller
The second piece of good news was reading Conde Nast's Traveller's piece about Bruton, which recommends this small town as one of the hippest places to visit in Somerset, thanks to the Hauser and Wirth gallery with its Roth Bar and Grill, At the Chapel and Matt's Kitchen restaurants and pubs like The Bull Inn and The Three Horseshoes. Of course locals also know about its great schools like Sexeys, Kings Bruton and Bruton School for Girls and its thriving artistic community.
3. Town & Country
The third mention was for our impressive home Vineyards Farm just outside Bath, that featured as Property of the Day on Town and Country's website. Vineyards Farm, originally part of the Claverton Estate and built on the site of a 17th-century vineyard, comprises a main four-bedroom house, the Dairy (two refurbished two-bed cottages) and a magnificent barn spanning more than 370 square metres. It has landscaped gardens featuring an idyllic pond and waterfall. There is also a Victorian style greenhouse, a tennis court, a helipad, and ample garaging and covered parking. This property could make a delightful family home, thanks to its extensive guest accommodation.
So all in all it was a great result for us, helping our vendors to reach audiences up and down the country.
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The Power of Two
Seven newly-built houses in Leigh on Mendip, Somerset, look as stylish as you'd expect contemporary country homes near Frome and Mells to be. But what you might not have guessed is that they've been built with environmental principles at their core. We asked brothers Will and James Habershon, the family team behind the Hornbeam Lane project to explain.
Brothers Will (L) and James Habershon, the team behind Habershon Land's Somerset development
Tell us a bit about yourselves and why you do what you do.....
Family values are really important to us and we are lucky that as brothers, our skill sets complement each other really well and lend themselves to property development. We grew up at Coleford House in Coleford, which is 4 minutes away from the development site. Coleford House was very special to us as it belonged to our grandparents before our parents owned it and we spent many happy years there. We used to go for long cycle rides around the country lanes and this included cycling past Hornbeam Lane. We were fortunate enough go to the lovely All Hallows’ School so the area is very familiar to us and we thought it was crying out for some new high quality homes. Then 20 years ago we went to launch of Babington House and this only enhanced our motivation to build luxury homes in Leigh.
The Hornbeam Lane development
Describe your environmental ethos...
We both have a strong interest in the environment and trying to limit fossil fuels wherever possible and want to do all we can for the planet so it is a better place to live for our children and grandchildren. Will, the managing director, went to the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester where he did a dissertation on “The Future of Green Buildings”. This further cemented (excuse the pun!) his desire to be as green as possible. For this reason, our houses have solar panels and air source heat pumps and are fossil fuel free – which means cheaper running costs for homeowners too!
Is eliminating fossil fuels your main mission?
No, we also feel strongly about protecting animals and birds. Every creature is important and this is why we installed Bird Brick houses into every house providing a permanent, maintenance free nest for the birds. It was a real joy to see the house martins raising their young in these little boxes. As Habershon Land we also strives to plant as many trees as possible and for this reason we are planting a mixed species native hedge around the boundaries. This is made up of a mixture of field maple, dog rose, hawthorn and hazel. We are also planting daffodils, blue-blues and tilia (lime trees) further enhancing cover and food for nature. The privet hedges on the front lawns will provide privacy and will be ever green.
Plot 4 at Hornbeam Lane
What about the building materials?
We love to support local businesses where possible. We used the Lovell Stone Group in Dorset for the Purbeck Stone and Yandles in the nearby Martock for the wooden cladding to name but a few. We also use good quality natural materials rather than synthetic materials so we used natural stone and wood on the exterior along with Doulting stone for the window sills and window heads and natural internal finishes like oak and slate flooring and state of the art white quartz for the kitchen worktops and ceramics for the bathrooms. We decided to use hardwood for the windows and doors rather than softwood as we wanted to build using materials that would last the test of time.
How has your interest in the environment further influenced the design?
Because people spend so much time in their homes, we believe it’s important to bring as much natural light as possible into the house as possible. We worked with Orme Architects to create buildings that utilise the natural light by having south or south west facing gardens and bi-fold and French doors on the south facing sides of the properties.
What have been your favourite moments when creating the Hornbeam site?
We have loved working on the Hornbeam Lane houses. The local community are really friendly and it was a bonus being able to pop to the popular Talbot Inn in Mells for business lunches when we had a quiet moment. We loved hearing the owls making their early morning or early evening twit too noises. It was satisfying being able to brag about having some of the only green lawns in Somerset during the heat wave this summer (thanks to Sherborne Turf) and mowing the lawns whilst catching a few rays in the south facing gardens was a definite highlight. We also really enjoyed working with The Shaker Kitchen company and Neptune Kitchens to create kitchens that we would personally use (and are going to use!) for our own homes. It was really fun sourcing materials from local businesses, e.g. doulting stone and getting advise from the renowned interior designer Clarissa Clifford.
Six houses have been sold as of April 2019 with only Plot 6 remaining