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August 31, 2011

The ultimate Cath Kidston purchase – her country home

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 9:19 am

Jackson-Stops & Staff, Cirencester, has completed the sale of Trillgate Farm, a 17th-century Cotswold farmhouse, the former country home of British fashion designer Cath Kidston, and her music producer husband, Hugh Padgham.

The farmhouse, with its mullion windows, high ceilings and flagstone floors, has a light and spacious interior. Bursting with rustic charm and paraphernalia collected at car boot sales and markets, an emphasis on ‘soft colours’ allow these key features to shine.

Cath Kidston said: “We decorated it in quite a low-key way. I like plain walls in lighter colours with complementing florals. Upstairs there are a lot of Cath Kidston fabrics, vintage finds and an antique four-poster bed which my sister lent to me.”

The seven bedroom stone-built house is set in three acres of gardens and grounds with a small orchard, wild flower garden and a croquet lawn among the many delights. Trillgate Farm stands alone at the head of the peaceful Slad Valley, a valley immortalised in the writings of the author ‘Laurie Lee’ (Cider with Rosie), and offering views largely unchanged in the last 100 years.

Unsurprisingly, and even with a list price of £1.75 million, this classic property laced with Cath Kidston magic did not remain on the market for long. Following the sale of Trillgate Farm, the couple moved closer to nearby Painswick, a small Cotswold town recently experiencing something of a reawakening – albeit a quiet, unassuming one.

A former wool town often described as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ because of its large limestone buildings, Painswick has largely eluded the glamour of the rich and famous ‘invading’ other parts of Gloucestershire. That is despite the presence of the novelist Jilly Cooper and designer Lulu Guinness, residing in neighbouring valleys.

“A lot of interesting and clever people live around Painswick,” confirms Jamie Dalrymple Hamilton, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff, Cirencester.

Legend has it that local flea markets first inspired Cath Kidston to set up shop in Clarendon Cross in London in 1993, years before her brand achieved the global reach of today. Indeed, Cath Kidston cites quaint shops as one of the key attractions of this ‘sleepy village’, and shares an appreciation of the fact that the area isn’t “filled with smart shops selling useless things.”

Serendipity aside, the village now also hosts a number of events and festivals, the largest of which is the Painswick Wearable Art Festival. Conceived to be for fashion what Hay-on-Wye is for books, this year’s event attracted nearly five thousand visitors and 70 wearable entries. In only its second year, the festival counts Plum Sykes as Patron, with Dan Chadwick and artist Grayson Perry among the judging panel.

As well as the customary charms expected with a Cotswold town – a picturesque church, rare 17th-century spectacle stocks and England’s oldest bowling green, Painswick also offers many practical attractions. The market town of Cirencester is 16 miles away, while Cheltenham, noted for its Music and Literary Festivals as well as its famous National Hunt race course, only nine. The capital can be reached in around two hours by car, while there are regular train services from Stroud Station taking little over an hour and a half to London Paddington. For those with young families, there is a good local primary school in the town, and two grammar schools only three miles away in Stroud.

Jackson-Stops & Staff, Cirencester, have a number of properties for sale in Painswick and surrounding villages, including a Grade II listed town house with bakery for £895,000.

August 26, 2011

The appeal of the Old Rectory

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 9:43 am

The Old Rectory has tremendous cachet as one of the most appealing addresses, evoking images of a wisteria-clad Georgian gem or Gothic splendour.

According to Dawn Carritt, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff, rectories and vicarages typically command a premium of between five and 10 per cent on comparable properties in the area.  She comments: “The popularity of these houses is as much down to their position and architectural style as it is to the accommodation they offer. Bearing in mind it is rare for a village to have more than one old rectory, demand is likely to continue to outstrip supply and underpin their price.  In short, there is a certain appeal attached to owning an old rectory.”

The dominant styles employed in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century were mainly neo-classical and Gothic.  Many of these former rectories and vicarages were sold off by the Church of England in the late 20th century and they have become fashionable homes, in the heart of the village, often with a view of the parish church, and with generous gardens and grounds.

As the properties were originally constructed to accommodate domestic staff as well as the rector and his family, they tend to be spacious and offer a degree of flexibility. Additional staff bedrooms are often converted into bathrooms, while domestic offices once used as pantries, sculleries and larders, now make excellent utility rooms, playrooms or home offices. Such versatility can also be seen in many Georgian and Victorian rectories, where horse and carriage traps leave a plethora of outbuildings, ideal for converting into additional garages, games rooms or even guest cottage conversions.

While former rectories often share many similar characteristics, a product of their historical function as well as the era of their build, they are by no means carbon copies. While Georgian rectories are generally considered the ultimate, with Victorian ones a close second, all tend to have an individual character, seldom matched by other conversions.

With prices ranging from £750,000 to £3million depending on the area, the fact that they continue to outperform the market is truly a testament to how attractive a proposition they are.

Jackson-Stops & Staff currently have a range of former rectories and vicarages on the market, including a Grade II Listed former rectory in Cornwall, for offers in excess of £750,000, a four bedroom former vicarage in Northallerton on the market for £795,000, and a late Georgian rectory in Stratford-upon-Avon with a guide price of £1,500,000.

August 17, 2011

Homes remain “a safe haven” for buyers

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 12:35 pm

Jackson-Stops & Staff, the national estate agents, reports a significant increase in the number of properties under offer and in the average value per transaction last month, illustrating the resilience of residential property as “a safe haven”, according to chairman Andrew Froude.

In July, the number of properties under offer across the 43 offices of Jackson-Stops & Staff showed a year on year increase of 14 per cent. There was also a year on year increase in the average value per transaction, up by six per cent.

The number of new instructions was down in July, compared with each of the previous three months, moving towards a more even balance between supply and demand across Jackson-Stops & Staff offices, renowned for their stunning properties in the country house market.

Andrew Froude, chairman of Jackson-Stops & Staff, said: “The overall indication is that the market has achieved some stability over the past 12 months.  The positives for the property market are that interest rates are likely to remain low and like gold, bricks and mortar have traditionally been regarded as a safe haven when currencies and other investments are under pressure.”

August 9, 2011

Olympians head for the hills

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 3:05 pm

One of the most picturesque parts of the Surrey Hills will be at the heart of the 2012 Olympic Cycling Road Race. The route, which begins and ends on The Mall in central London, will cover approximately 130 miles of Surrey roads, including a considerable stretch of the A25, passing through Dorking and surrounding villages.

Those lucky enough to bag a spot can watch some of the world’s very best riders repeat a challenging ten mile circuit of Box Hill, including the National Trust’s infamous Zig Zag Road – set to be the scene of the key breakaways by the top riders. For those unable to watch on the North Downs summit, there will be many opportunities to witness the race from the roadside, with pub gardens and cafes in Shere, Westcott and Wotton set to be popular destinations for spectators.

Some lucky homeowners too are expected to have a first-class seat for the action. Colin Hughes, Partner of Jackson-Stops & Staff Dorking, said: “The Olympic Games coming to London is the chance of a lifetime to experience the incredible atmosphere of this universal event.”

“People throughout the nation are getting involved, whether as spectators, supporters or participants; yet for those in the Surrey Hills, missing out on tickets does not mean the end to the Olympic experience. As well as offering a stunning rural setting that is ever popular with London commuters seeking country comforts, buying a property in the Surrey Hills and the surrounds now means buying a top-tier ticket to the greatest show on Earth – and the definitive armchair viewing experience!”

The Surrey Hills, one of the first areas in England to be designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, has become a prime location for people who wish to live in a rural setting while remaining within a short commute of central London.

Nearby Dorking, a pleasant market town with excellent shopping and recreational facilities, has train stations providing regular commuter services to London Waterloo and Victoria, as well as a cross country route from Reading to Redhill. Meanwhile, the historic village of Betchworth, with its 900-year old parish church of St Michael’s, one of the churches in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the charming old Surrey village of Westcott, provide perfect examples of villages with good facilities,  ideal for riding and walking enthusiasts.

Jackson-Stops & Staff, Dorking office, has a range of properties on the market in the area, offering a track-side experience from the luxury of your own front step. A family home in Betchworth is currently offered at £1,150,000; a substantial home in a private, rural setting at £825,000; and a rural cottage for £499,995.

The Road Race event, one of the few outside of the capital and free to view in parts, is scheduled to take place on the opening weekend of the Games, and will see 145 men and 67 women race on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July 2012, respectively.

Notable British riders due to take part include, Nicole Cooke – looking to defend her Olympic title from the 2008 Beijing Games, and Mark Cavendish – bidding for the men’s title on home soil.

A test event, which organisers hope will attract many of the riders expected to compete in the London 2012 Games, will take place on 14th August 2011.

August 3, 2011

“Austerity rather than prosperity” drives sales at Jackson-Stops & Staff

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 3:14 pm

Jackson-Stops & Staff, reports a significant increase in sales, with the highest number of sales in one month since June 2009 – reflecting “austerity rather than prosperity”, according to director Tim Dansie.

The mid-market has shown the greatest concentration of sales, with buyers downsizing to pay the school fees, pay off the mortgage and reduce living costs, representing an interesting trend for Jackson-Stops & Staff, which celebrated its centenary last year, and is renowned for its stunning properties in the country house market.

In June, sales across the 43 offices of Jackson-Stops & Staff were up by 12.5% on June 2010.  The number of properties under offer was also up by 15%, with an increase in new applicants of 11%.  The total number of instructions increased by 26%,  suggesting an excess of supply over demand.

The best performing area in the Jackson-Stops & Staff stable  was Winchester, with the highest number of sales.  Central and the East of England  also performed  well, with a strong performance by the Ipswich office of Jackson-Stops & Staff.  The Northampton office of Jackson-Stops & Staff also enjoyed a strong sales rate in June. Elsewhere, the Cotswolds offices in Burford, Chipping Campden and Cirencester, a favourite for second homes and retirees, enjoyed good sales, as did offices in the North-west in Chester, Wilmslow and Hale.  In the South West, the “tourists” have gone and only the serious buyers remain, according to the eight Jackson-Stops & Staff offices in the region.

Tim Dansie, director of the Ipswich office, said: “Austerity rather than prosperity has definitely influenced our buyers.  Downsizing from the large house to a more manageable property, cutting costs to afford the school fees and people who have moved out of the country and into town to make life easier have all been common themes among people looking to buy. Activity is returning to the market and we anticipate that this will start to have an effect on the higher end properties. We have seen an increase in the number of instructions and June’s figures indicate that people are now willing to commit to a sale.”

Quentin Jackson-Stops, partner of the Northampton office, said: “People fear that interest rates will rise and are buying a smaller, mid-market property and paying off their mortgages. We are fortunate that we do handle delightful, attractive homes in good locations, often with a fascinating history, yet still within the mid-market price band.”

Sales in Winchester have been driven by the traditional allure of a better quality life.  Phillip Blanchard, director of the Winchester office, said: “Winchester is in the magic hour from London and our mid-market buyers have been young professionals and young families moving out of London for schools and more space.”

The Kent branches of Jackson-Stops & Staff  had a buoyant June, led by the Sevenoaks office, backed by a good performance from the three new offices established by Jackson-Stops & Staff  in Kent since 2009: in Oxted on the Kent/Surrey borders; Tunbridge Wells and  Canterbury earlier this year. With branches in Sevenoaks and Cranbrook, it now has a substantial  presence in the county with five offices in total, the only agent to expand in the county during this period. The new offices are headed by former directors of Knight Frank, DTZ and Cluttons, with excellent local knowledge and contacts in Kent.

Alastair Hancock, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Sevenoaks office, said: “We now have an unrivalled presence in Kent, with a very talented and highly experienced team of property experts in each of our five offices.”

August 1, 2011

Jackson-Stops & Staff celebrate the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel, the gateway to the Golden Triangle

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 2:07 pm

The opening of the Hindhead Tunnel project on Wednesday (27 July) by Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport, signals an end to the North / South property divide that has for decades drawn a clear county line between Hampshire and Surrey. In an area of outstanding natural beauty, recently recognised by the creation of the South Downs National Park, the ‘golden triangle’ of Petersfield, Haslemere and Petworth which crosses the Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex borders, has traditionally been one of the most desirable areas to live in the south of England, and where demand for properties has far outstripped supply.

By linking Hampshire and Surrey, the tunnel will bring significant advantage to owners of properties to the south of Hindhead, particularly those not well served by the mainline railway stations and who rely on the road network to reach London.  The villages around Hindhead will also see a reduction in traffic on local roads, stopping the bottleneck as drivers, increasingly frustrated by the long delays caused by a single set of traffic lights, found alternative routes.

Jane Constanduros, Senior Negotiator, Jackson-Stops & Staff Midhurst explains the added draw for the area and its properties on the Tunnel’s anticipated opening:  “The opening of the Hindhead tunnel will make the journey time to London faster meaning more people will consider the area when looking to move out of the city but remain in easy reach of London, Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

“Property values are unlikely to rise immediately, but when people realise how quickly they can now get from London to the coast, and as more people discover the jewels of the South Downs, property prices should rise by 10%, as happened when the new A3 trunk road was built bypassing Petersfield.”

The Midhurst office has a range of beautiful properties in the area, including Strange Place, Northchapel, a Grade II listed country house with long views and detached pasture and woodland at £2,950,000 and Graffham Court, near Petworth, an equestrian estate in the heart of the South Downs at £8,000,000.