Getting the very best from the Home Counties

PEOPLE are often very unfair to the Home Counties,” says James Grillo of Chesterton Humberts, “There is so much more to it than sprawling suburbia.” Indeed, as he points out, there’s more woodland per acre in Surrey than another county in England. “The schools are great, the commute is quick and the properties are fabulous.”

But the difference between the places, he argues, is cosmetic. “All the real Home Counties – that is those practically touching London – are awash with excellent schools, beautiful countryside and speedy access to the city.” Most people only chose to move to one county over another because they have a social connection to it, or they prefer the architecture in one place to another.

“The architecture in each county is really different because they all developed at different times,” Grillo explains. Generally speaking, he says, if you’re keen to live in a Georgian house, it’s got to be Surrey. While if you’re after Victorian Arts and Crafts architecture, it has to be Hertfordshire or Buckinghamshire. And Surrey if you would like to live in a converted oast house.

But prices do vary. Surrey and Kent command higher prices than Hertfordshire and Essex. Property Vision estimates that there is a 10-20 per cent difference between the two on like-for-like homes. “All the counties have a Waitrose and there aren’t any black spots for schools. I just don’t understand the price differentials between the north and the south counties.”

With property prices outside London increasing at a slower pace, now might be the time to shift out of the city into more peaceful areas. We look at the finest homes in each of the real Home Counties.

● HERTFORDSHIRE

MANOR HOUSE, BAYFORD
Price: £3.75m
The present owners have lived in Bayford’s Manor House for over 43 years, keeping the garden and interiors well maintained. It has six bedrooms, three bathrooms, extensive attic rooms, kitchen, dining, drawing, sitting and playroom, scullery and wine store. Contact: Knight Frank on 020 7861 1722 or go to www.knightfrank.com

● KENT

MURLINGDEN, LAMBERHURST
Price: £3.25m
This grade II-listed, early-Victorian property is set in 28 acres. It has four bedrooms, a family bathroom and a separate living suite. The land also houses a double garage, greenhouse, a wood store, vineyard, tennis court, landscaped garden and grounds. Contact: Knight Frank on 020 7561 1505 or go to www.knightfrank.com

● SURREY

MATHAM MANOR, EAST MOLESEY
Price: £2.395m
This six-bedroom 15th century grade II-listed manor house sits within a beautiful one-acre walled garden. The ground floor has an entrance hall, kitchen-breakfast room with handmade units and an Aga, a dining room, drawing room, conservatory, utility room and cloakroom. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms with an en suite bathrooms, a third bedroom and a family bathroom. There are two further bedrooms on the second floor.
Contact: John D Wood on 01372 462211 or go to www.johndwood.co.uk

● BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

ROSE HILL, BURNHAM
Price: £4.25m
This eight-bedroom country house is set in 16 acres of parkland gardens. It has five reception rooms and six bathrooms. The property comes with planning permission for a substantial rear and side extension to create further reception space, a library, cellar and cinema rooms. There is provision for a large garage and secondary accommodation block.
Contact: Savills on 01494 731 950 or go to www.savills.co.uk

● ESSEX

THEYDON MANOR, THEYDON BOIS
Price: £3m
Theydon Manor is a six-bedroom former rectory. It is approached along a long sweeping driveway through electric gates and sits in six acres that are divided between formal grounds and two paddocks. A detached two-bedroom cottage on the grounds is also included in the sale. The main property is spread across three floors and has been recently refurbished.
Contact: Hetheringtons on 01992 815314 or go to www.hetheringtons.co.uk

● BERKSHIRE

CHURCH GATE HOUSE, THATCHAM
Price: £850,000
This grade II-listed former vicarage set in almost half an acre of grounds has five bedrooms, three large reception rooms and a study. It lies within the conservation area of Thatcham adjoining the 15th century church. It is three miles from the bustling small town of Newbury.
Contact: Jackson-Stops & Staff on 01635 45501 or go to www.jackson-stops.co.uk