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October 30, 2012

Georgian houses – a passion or a premium

Filed under: Latest News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Four Communications @ 2:56 pm

The price of any house is more often than not dictated by demand and where Georgian houses are concerned demand almost always seems to outstrip supply.  This passion is driven by not just the outward appearance of a Georgian house, whether it be a town or country property, but by the light well-proportioned rooms, large windows and high ceilings. Almost every Georgian house is a listed building and amongst them are some of the country’s grandest historic houses.  It is arguably the most distinctive period of English architecture and spans over 100 years; Georgian house continued to be built well after the death of George IV.

It is a style that embraces a significant part of this country’s built heritage from terraces of town houses, most often created by skilled local builders, to some of the of the most iconic houses created by architects that have now become household names.  A great deal of the uniformity across the country came about as a result of the publication of pattern books which enabled a client to select a drawing of a staircase or architectural detail and have it reproduced more or less to order.  Amongst the most influential pattern books were ‘A Sure Guide to Builders’ by Batty Langley and ‘Works in Architecture’ by Robert and James Adam.

What makes a Georgian building so appealing to buyers today is the relatively restrained architectural style when compared to that of the ornate baroque period and the heavier style so enjoyed by the Victorians.  Furthermore, the simple yet elegant panelled rooms of a Georgian house work just as well when furnished with period furniture and fabrics as they do when a given in a modern minimalist look.  The layout also lends itself to 21st Century living.  The principal rooms are almost always well proportion.  The secondary accommodation or staff quarters readily convert to a boot room, utility room, flower room, gym or games room whilst the small anti-rooms, frequently found adjoining the principal bedrooms, make ideal bath or shower rooms.

The success of the Georgian style was not down purely to luck or indeed a plethora of fine architects.  Events such as the Great Fire of London in 1666 resulted in the 1667 Building Act which set out the basic requirements for buildings in London and could well be regarded as the forerunner of what today are more commonly known as building regulations.  Further Acts were to follow in 1707 and 1774, the latter defining the four categories or ‘rates’ of houses in London, ‘first rate’ not surprisingly being the standard applied to the building of the finest properties.  What happened in the capital almost inevitably had an impact on buildings across the country.

200 years on and Georgian architecture continues to please the eye and remains the style most frequently requested.  This in turn means that a buyer is likely to have to pay more per square foot for a Georgian house than, say, a Tudor or Victorian house and as yet there are no signs of this trend faltering.

Here are a selection of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s finest Georgian properties:

Coates Castle, Coates, Fittleworth, West Sussex – A well proportioned apartment within a fine Georgian country mansion surrounded by open parkland. The adjoining residence is also available as a whole or in two lots. The apartment costs £525,000.

For more information, click here.

Goodmans House, Membury, Devon – A rustic, unpretentious Georgian country house featuring five bedrooms and cottages, a luxurious pool, paddocks, and an intimate carriage drive. This simple yet sophisticated house is priced at £1.75m.

For more information, click here.

24 Princelet Street, Spitalfields, London – This surprisingly spacious Georgian townhouse, priced at £2.5m, has benefited from the fusion of period architectural detail and modern design to make it well suited to 21st century living.

For more information, click here.

October 18, 2012

Giles Coren on country life

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 10:18 am

A huge motivating factor in my current search for a nice big house in the country (either to move to permanently or to ensure that my Friday and Sunday nights for the next twenty years are spent sitting in motorway traffic, listening to awful plays on Radio 4 and shouting at the kids in the back, “Well you should have gone before we left home!”) is the glistening album of happy memories I have of the little cottage in the New Forest where I spent the weekends and summers of my childhood.

It was pure Laurie Lee: a little stone cottage on the crest of a hill at the end of an unmade track, looking down on a twinkling stream at the bottom of the valley and then across to ancient woodland. Oh, the joyful walks in the late evening sunshine, the frolics in the stream, the hide and seek in the woods, the gay jaunts to the sweetie shop in the nearby village that we… would have had if we hadn’t been too terrified to venture past the garden gate.

My sister and I were seven and four when my parents bought ‘Long Orchard’ in the long, hot summer of 1976. In early June, we loaded up the old Mercedes and headed down for the duration.

On the first morning my sister and I woke at dawn, ran downstairs and out into the lane, bursting to begin our rural adventure. And that was when we saw our first horse.

Or possibly pony. They run wild in the New Forest, you know. It’s lunacy, sheer lunacy. Some of them are as much as four feet high and survive mostly on a diet of terrified urban children who have only ever seen a horse on television and assumed they were weird mythical creatures that didn’t really exist, like dragons and hobbits and Floella Benjamin.

We turned and ran. Which was when we saw our first cow. Huge. Wide-eyed. So still and quiet it can only have been planning murder. We screamed and screamed and screamed. And those screams woke the local sheep dog, long-fanged and drooling, which despite its great old age, arthritis and the name “Flopsy”, haunted our nightmares for a decade afterwards.

We ran home, and as we flew through the garden gate got very slightly slimed by a cobweb. “Aaaargh! Spiders!” We screamed. But our mother, who was standing on a chair with her skirt-tails in her hands, shrieking at a tiny mouse on the floor, was no use at all.

“Run and play in the stream while I deal with this,” said my dad. And so off we toddled to build a dam and play a little “Pooh-sticks”, which was when we saw our first…

…well, I still don’t know what it was. Possibly a minnow, possibly just a leafy stick. But if you called my sister today and asked her, she would still tell you it was a shark.

 Aaaanyway, the hunt for a country house is going well. I’m over my fears of the countryside now, and have no problem at all with the idea of spending time out of town. We’re thinking of perhaps going as far afield as Hampstead. Or even Highgate.

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Giles Coren is The Times restaurant critic. His new book, How To Eat Out, is published by Hodder and is out now.

This feature appears in the latest edition of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Market Review.