Vendor spotlight: Cornish estate comes complete with indoor pool & walled gardens

19 Sep

Would a six-acre estate in idyllic Cornish countrywide complete with four dwellings, an indoor pool, walled gardens and much more suit you? Hosting family parties, reunions and weddings are among the best memories of life here for David and Sarah Short, writes Harriet Meyer.

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Name: David and Sarah Short

Occupations: Now retired, David previously worked in oil.

Property description: A six-acre estate set in idyllic rural surroundings with fantastic views of Dartmoor across the Tamar Valley, 11 bedrooms and seven reception rooms. It includes the main house, grooms’ house, carriage house and separate studio, with a working water wheel alongside the terrace, walled gardens, and an indoor swimming pool in the ancient orchard.

Among its many attractions is an amphitheatre on the ruins of the old mansion where the owners have hosted music festivals to raise funds for local charities. There is also a tree house complex and zip wire in the woods – and much more…

Asking price:  £1,300,000

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Estate Agent handling the sale: Duncan Ley, of Humberts, Truro.

Why are you moving? We are downsizing as our children and grandchildren have moved away and so the house is no longer the multi-generational haven we’ve enjoyed for the past 15 years.

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Have you found somewhere to move to? No, but we shall be moving nearer to our daughter and family who live in Tavistock.

What do you like most about the property? Its history, individuality and tranquility – the only sound we hear is birdsong. We enjoy sipping a glass of something chilled on a balmy evening while gazing at the view, smelling the roses as we stroll around the garden or watching our dogs fail to spot the rabbits in the woodland.

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What is your happiest memory in the property and when did it happen? We have had many, many family reunions, parties, christenings, engagement parties and weddings. In particular, our daughter’s wedding reception held in the garden in July 2010 – we were able to put up most of our extended family on site.

When did you buy the property and how much was it worth? It was bought in September 1999 for £660,000 when it was minus the swimming pool and other major improvements – such as an extension on the grooms’ house.

Do you know your neighbours? Most of our neighbours have four legs and a tail. The Duchy College of the Countryside lease the fields from the Duchy of Cornwall. Our other nearest neighbours are approximately a mile away across four fields.

What do you like about local schools? They have served our grandchildren well, being relatively small with very good reputations. The nearest state schools are Stoke Climsland Community Primary School and Callington Community College – now an Academy. There are two grammar schools in Plymouth. Nearby independent schools include Launceston, St Joseph’s School, Mount Kelly College in Tavistock, and Plymouth College.

What is the traffic and transport like in the area? A car is a necessity, but there is a bus link from the village a mile away.There is easy access to the main road between Plymouth and Launceston and we’re only one hour from Exeter.

What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? The Royal Inn at Horsebridge. It’s actually in Devon, but only three miles away across the Tamar.

How would you spend the perfect day in your area? Whiteford is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there’s lots to do. But we love just sitting in the garden watching the swallow ballet or the skies over Dartmoor.

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What local secret is there in the area what would take a new resident a while to discover? Our local village, Stoke Climsland, has a thriving community centre with many activities. It’s a mixture of working farms, young families who send children to local schools and the expected sprinkling of retired folk.

If you would change one thing about the house, what would it be? We would enclose part of the courtyard outside the kitchen to make it squarer.

What items are included in the sale of the property (eg white goods in the kitchen)? None at the moment, but this is subject to negotiation.

Who would your ideal buyer? Someone who can see its potential. There is space for a tennis court, a paddock for horses or maybe even a vineyard. It could easily be transformed into a commercial venture or it would suit someone with an extended family who needs separate residences.

What do you fear most? Downsizing! With four dwellings to de-clutter and dispose of excess furniture we have our work cut out.

Agent’s advice on tackling these fears? Duncan Ley, director of Humberts in Truro, says: “As our clients have lived in their property for some 15 years and it comprises of 8,500 square feet it’s not surprising that the thought of downsizing is intimidating.

“Many of the items will do well at auction, much can be dispersed to family members, while some can be donated to charity. Some buyers may also be interested in retaining some of the furnishings.”

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Homes for sale with luxury conservatories

17 Sep

We’ve had pretty good summer weather and the autumn has so far been glorious. But if you want to enjoy the sunshine all year round, the answer lies in having a conservatory or sun room, explains interior designer Sarah Ward. It will be a place where you can relax comfortably in an armchair, entertain and catch the sun’s beams whenever they shine through – even on a cold winter day.

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If you do have a conservatory, you will have to fit blinds so that the light doesn’t dazzle – or have switchable opaque glass-  and you will need it to be heated. Underfloor heating is usually the best option as it’s unobstrusive and cost efficient.

Here are a few rooms that fit the bill…

1. Perfect for winter breakfasts and lunches, this light and airy kitchen and diner makes the most of the light available and will be welcoming on winter mornings.

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2. The Victorians and Edwardians were great fans of conservatories – often calling them garden rooms. This conservatory is certainly green and verdant and gives you a touch of the outdoors when it’s too cold to venture out. I also think it would be a great space for entertaining in the winter before going into dinner.

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3. Live here and you’d never have to worry about entertaining young children on wet afternoons. There’s plenty of space and light – you’d never feel cramped if you had this area in which to relax. Beautifully done.

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4. A conservatory doesn’t have to be furnished in wicker – regard it as an extension of your home and furnish accordingly to blend in with your surroundings. However if you are using dark pieces – as is the case here – remember that you will need blinds to protect wood from fading and ensure that you can use the space comfortably without having to wear sunglasses. If you’re building from new, some glass can be turned from clear to opaque at the flick of a switch to give shade and privacy.

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5. A home with a wonderful view can often make you feel as though you’re outside. Don’t feel you have to have a conservatory – maybe opening up a window and enlarging it to create an uninterrupted vista will be sufficient. I can imagine lying on the sofa here on winter afternoons watching the evening sun going down.

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6. A glass walled room can make the most of light available and doesn’t have to feel cold – advances in technology mean that glass is available that insulates and keeps heat inside.

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7. Well placed skylights can transform a room from dingy to inviting – this home by the sea in Cornwall is flooded with light, yet welcoming and cosy.

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8. If you’re extending, consider blending a kitchen and conservatory into the same space – guests can feel as if they are out in the garden while actually inside chatting to the host and hostess.

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9. This Arts & Crafts designed home has a colonial feel about it and the shutters work perfectly. Slightly away from the main bustle of the house, it’s a useful space to be able to contemplate in peace. Furniture here would be crucial – you’d definitely need a chair to lounge in.

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10. This is more of an orangery than a conservatory. Orangeries are becoming more popular – and traditionally used to grow oranges (of course) in a house, but are a hybrid between a conservatory and a living room. A crossover that works well and a contemporary way of adding light and sun to an area.

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Renovation project on offer in the Lake District

17 Sep

Fancy a project? How about restoring an ancient hall – it’s yours for only £750,000, finds Cheryl Markosky.

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You don’t need to be a millionaire to purchase Haile Hall, 10 minutes from Egremont in the depths of the Cumbrian countryside.

However, you might need a bit of spare change to finish renovating the Grade II listed home owned by the Ponsonby family since the thirteenth century.

The good news is that the 10 bedroom hall’s already had a head start.

Stephen McOwan Smiths Gore Carlisle“The owner’s spent a lot of money to keep the main hall and outbuildings wind and watertight,” explains Stephen McOwan, of estate agents Smiths Gore Carlisle.

Pricewise, the sum quoted for the hall that once housed major military collections is fair, suggest McOwan. “It’s on the fringes of the Lake District National Park. If it were only a few miles further east inside the Park it would cost 30 per cent more.”

Bargain or no bargain – you do have to fork out to carry on with the work, of course – you do get plenty or space for your cash. Two bedroom Gatehouse Cottage is ready for conversion. In addition, the remains of a Pele tower, some barns and more than five acres are wrapped into the sale.

“Work has commenced with a view to sub-dividing the house, but an incoming purchaser could do what he wants as long as the planners agree,” McOwan points out.

He adds that the local authority is onside and reckons the house could be transformed into a boutique hotel, swanky serviced offices, a home for multiple generations of a family wanting to live together – or even a single family.

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“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for a family to purchase Haile Hall, but it is a lot to take on,” adds McOwan. “It all depends on how brave a buyer is feeling. He’d have to like the idea of rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck in.”

Any sleeve-rollers should get in touch with McOwan as soon as possible before the chance to own this symmetrical, stone gem disappears. All hail Haile Hall!

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An audience with Vernon Moore of Moores estate agents

16 Sep


Vernon Moore, of estate agents Moores speaks to Harriet Meyer about the perfect day in his Rutland patch.

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Name: Vernon Moore

Company: Moores Estate Agents

Twitter handle: @mooresproperty

Area covered: Mainly Rutland.

How did you start out as an estate agent? I started by working in cattle markets as a trainee auctioneer. In the late 80s boom I was asked to start helping out with residential sales. Pretty soon after that I discovered I had a bit of a flair for the job.

What would you be doing if you were not an estate agent? I would’ve loved to work with animals, either as a gamekeeper or a vet – but I knew I wouldn’t get the qualifications to be a vet.

What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? The first property that I had a hand in selling was a terraced house in Rutland. It was owned by an old lady who was viewing a property through our agency at the same time. I was asked to value the house at short notice and won the instruction despite not really knowing what the correct price should be, or what fee we would charge. I managed to convince her that because she wished to buy through us, we were the right agent to work with. I recall it going for around £45,000 in 1988, and I would imagine it to be worth an awful lot more than that now.

If money was no object, which house or street in your patch would you most like to live in? As much as the properties with water views across Rutland Water are sought after I would prefer something a little bit more tucked away, with some brilliant views across its own land. I’m not sure where exactly but a country road in the middle of nowhere.

Any zones in your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? At the moment, the northern part of our patch is becoming more and more popular. Buying a property towards Grantham gives buyers much more for their money than the heart of Rutland, and people who are looking to commute can get from Grantham Station to King’s Cross in just over an hour.

What are your top tips for buying, selling or letting property in the area? 

Buying: I think buyers should be more willing to go out and view more properties, rather than just accepting what is presented to them online. Many people are narrowing down their options by not getting in to a car and having a look around.

Selling: As much as it is important to present a house well, sellers cause themselves a lot of extra stress by trying to make their home look like a show house. We usually find that buyers can look through the way they live. Another tip would be to take advantage of initial interest when the property comes onto the market.

Letting: Renters need to be aware that most tenants will not invest in the property and keep your home as you would. Make sure your agent inspects regularly and keeps you informed.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? There are many great things to do in the area, but I love to spend time with my family, and we all enjoy shooting in Wymondham, so that would be top of my list.

What is your favourite place to eat in the area? The Berkeley Arms in Wymondham is superb. The food is great, and it’s a very nice place to be as well.

If you could change one thing to make your working life better, what would it be? I’d like sellers to be more appreciative of the recent changes to mortgage lending which has caused exchanges this year to take longer while borrowing is sorted out.

What will dominate the news in your market this year? The changes in mortgage lending have had a big impact and I imagine that this will dominate property news for this year.

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Buying property overseas in New Zealand for a warm climate & open spaces

16 Sep

Think of New Zealand and what springs to mind? Great wine, beautiful scenery or the place where the Lord of the Rings was filmed? It offers that and so much more, says overseas property expert Simon Conn.

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New Zealand has long been a popular spot for Brits to relocate. It shares the same language and is a similar size to Great Britain, but is home to a much smaller population, with only four million inhabitants.

It is split into two main islands – the north and south. Both have diverse and spectacular scenery, with beautiful sandy beaches and massive turquoise lakes.

The country, which is 12 hours ahead of us, promises a warmer climate than Britain, and there are rain forests, the sea and plenty of open spaces to enjoy.

It is likely that wherever you live, you will need a car to travel around the towns as it is much more spread out than Britain. For those who yearn to get away from the hustle and bustle of Britain, you will enjoy the stretches of road where you can drive for miles and not see another soul – except for the odd sheep, perhaps.

New Zealand lamb is exported around the world, as is wine, so vineyards tours are a must for wine connoisseurs.

The country has a rich history, particularly associated with the Maoris who arrived around 1,000 years ago. There are plenty of Maori sites to visit and treasures to admire if you are interested.

New Zealand also has many beautiful fjords called sounds, such as the stunning Milford Sound on the coast of the South Island.Snow-capped Mount Cook, the highest mountain in the country, is worth a visit and on the list of challenges for mountain climbers.

The incredible region of Roturuahas hot springs, geothermal pools and is also a centre for Maori culture.

16.09.14 New Zealand 1If you’re after city living, Auckland is bustling and has the Sky Tower, which is the tallest manmade building in New Zealand. Queenstown is a hotspot for thrillseekers, with adventure activities including skydiving, bungee and white water rafting on offer.

But don’t be put off if you want a slower pace of life as some people say New Zealand living is a bit like stepping back in time.

Providing you have sound advice from experts, purchasing a property in New Zealand should be relatively straightforward. Offers must be made in writing and sales often go through within four to six weeks.

You can expect to incur property buying costs in the region of $2-2,500, although there is not any stamp duty to pay. Mortgage arrangement fees are usually between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the loan amount.

Maximum loan to value rates for non-residents is 70 per cent and interest rates for non-residents are the same as for people living in New Zealand.

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Simon ConnFor more information or advice on financing an overseas property, please email


An audience with estate agent Tom Tangney of Knight Frank

29 Aug


Tom Tangney, of estate agent Knight Frank in Kensington, talks to Cheryl Markosky about how dinner in Sally Clarke’s eponymous restaurant and an evening with Santana could round off his perfect day.

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Name: Tom Tangney

Company name: Knight Frank

Twitter handle: @kensington_W8

Which area do you cover? I cover all of Kensington and Holland Park, including anything south of Holland Park Avenue, east of Holland Road and south down to Cromwell Road.

How did you start out as an estate agent? I started working for Alan Rivers, a local property entrepreneur. I was his in-house property manager looking after his Notting Hill and Chelsea portfolio.

What would you do if you weren’t an estate agent? With my knowledge of London, I’d be a taxi driver. I know all the roads and shortcuts. I even tracked a taxi once across the city – and arrived before he did.

What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? The first Knight Frank property I ever sold back in May 2000 was a house in Bedford Gardens for £1.5m. Recently, we sold an unmodernised house there for £4.8m. When done up, it will be worth about £5.5m.

If money was no object, which house or street would you most like to live in on your patch? I’d prefer a double-fronted house on Addison Road instead of a big house on Holland Park. I’d be able to drive through the front gates (and close them behind me) and have my own decent-sized garden. Houses on Addison Road aren’t too big, and they’re central and quiet. One in tip-top condition would cost approximately £50m to £60m.

Any streets or zones on your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? The area off Marloes Road, just south of Kensington High Street, is pretty active. And an individual gem is a five bedroom house we’re selling in Blithfield Street, off Stratford Road. Two houses have been combined into one, offering great lateral space. There’s a great village-y atmosphere in this district.

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What are your top tips for buying, selling or letting property in the area?

Buying: Do your financial research in advance, as it’s getting harder to borrow money from lenders these days. Also, consider using a broker. This might sound like a plug, but Knight Frank Finance just sorted out a terrific deal for me at 1.5 per cent over the Bank Rate.

Selling: De-clutter and don’t over-egg the asking price. Be brave and put your property on at a price that will attract competition. You never know, rival buyers might even bid up the price.

Letting: Be as flexible as you can to tenants’ requests. And keep decoration neutral so your home appeals to a broad church.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? I’d kick off with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and latte at Patisserie Valerie in Kensington Church Street. Then, I’d go to ‘hidden museums’ in the area, such as 18 Stafford Terrace, a late Victorian townhouse that was home to the Sambourne family. Most of the original fixtures and fittings are still intact. And I’d check out Leighton House Museum, where we held our wedding reception. Lunch would have to be at Kensington Place, which specialises in the most amazing, fresh fish. In the evening I’d grab a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen an eclectic mix of performances there – anything from Supertramp and Cirque du Soleil, to Santana and the Last Night of the Proms.

What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? I’d book at table at Clarke’s, a special, small restaurant run by Sally Clarke. There’s a set menu and an incredible wine list.

If you could change one thing to make your working life better what would it be? My father was a doctor and had a ‘doctor on call’ notice on the windscreen of his car. I’d like a similar permit that says ‘agent on call’. It would give me 10 to 15 minutes grace when showing people around property. As I promote the area as an agent, why not? And speaking of parking, you can pay to park in Westminster by phone – but you can’t in Kensington. Hello, Kensington & Chelsea?

What will dominate the news in your market in 2014? The upcoming General Election in 2015. Another big issue is the uncertainty about property taxes.

What’s your motto for being a successful agent? Smile and listen.

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Battersea penthouse reaches the height of luxury

28 Aug

A £7.5m penthouse in Richard Roger’s iconic Montevetro is a new high, says Cheryl Markosky.

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Tall buildings are all the rage in the capital, with 236 edifices of more than 20 storeys proposed, or already under construction, according to New London Architecture.

And with luxury housing in London costing about £3,500 a square foot – nearly £1,000 more than in New York, says a Savill’s survey – living the high life could turn into a highly lucrative business.

No one knows more about the pleasures gained from dwelling in a penthouse than fund manager and ice hockey player Zoran Kozic, who’s been enjoying his groovy glass home in the sky with his sons Alexander, 13, and Ryan, 9.

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Originally designed for Richard Rogers himself, the Battersea riverside penthouse has all the signature marks of one of the towering geniuses of our time: glass walkways, large red and yellow tiles, brushed steel staircases and triple-height spaces.

All the other homeowners in the building on the Thames have forsaken their triple aspects, instead adding more floors. Yet, Kozic hasn’t altered the original template.

“I could have installed another level, making the apartment more traditional. But I prefer to have less floor space, but unbelievable ceiling heights.”

Less floor space isn’t as bad as it sounds. It means nearly 3,000 sq ft, which is plenty of room for most people.

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Another plus is the location of the three bedroom penthouse spreading over the seventh and eighth floors, and a ‘secret’ mezzanine floor with its own adjacent balcony thrown in for good measure.

Kozic believes his is the best spot at Montevetro. “I’m not too high or low, or too close to the street. I still get the feeling that I’m connected to the water and St Mary’s Church.”

The young Kovics think they’re living in a James Bond pad. It’s easy to see where they got this idea. There’s a ‘secret entrance’ flush with the surrounding metal, a Q-style coded entry and panic alarm system, and an unbelievably cool open-plan living, kitchen, dining room with a long balcony running along the river.

The master bedroom suite one floor below also copies the frontage onto the river and opens onto its own balcony. Two more bedrooms at the back aren’t short-changed, as they’re equipped with en suites and access to balconies as well.

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Selling agent Fran Moynihan from Savills Waterfront says the facilities at the Montevetro are top notch, including a 24-hour concierge service, residents’ gym and tennis court and underground parking. There are two allocated spaces for the penthouse’s vehicles.

“Penthouses here rarely come onto the market, even though you get a lot more space for your money than you would north of the river,” she suggests.

Once regarded as a bit of a hinterland, Battersea’s now practically considered part of prime central London, Moynihan argues. “The new American Embassy’s put it on the map, as well as Battersea Square where Gordon Ramsay just opened his latest restaurant.”

Life at the top isn’t cheap, however.

Those balking at paying £7.5m for Kozic’s penthouse could lower their sights for one of his other purchases at the Montevetro – a one bedroom apartment at £750,000, or a three bedroom apartment priced at £1.8m. The three bedroom unit’s temporarily off the market while Kozic does some work to it. If it reflects the funky, modern design of the penthouse it’s worth keeping an eye out for this high-end space.


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