Restoration of historic buildings needs more encouragement
Much has been said in Parliament and written in the press about the need to provide more houses, even at the expense of the Green Belt. More houses immediately infers new houses and every encouragement is being given to developers to build as quickly as possible. However, over the last few years any incentive that was once available to owners of listed buildings to restore or convert redundant historic buildings has been whittled away. Beneficial rates of VAT have been withdrawn, local authorities do not have the funds to grant aid and changes to SDLT (stamp duty) means that outbuildings converted to residential use and let may attract an extra 3% stamp duty when sold.

The maintenance and restoration of this country’s built heritage continues to be down to private owners and a few preservation trusts who are prepared to commit not just money but a considerable amount of time to a building. One restoration project that has just come to fruition is that of Scocles Manor. Encouraged by his mother to buy the property and take on the project, it has taken the owner over two years to complete. The work was all the more challenging as it is quite clear as soon as one walks through the front door that what from the outside appears to be a classic Georgian house has much earlier origins.

What initially might have been a straightforward restoration project became a more complicated conservation task. The house had been refronted in the early 18th century – a familiar practice which enabled owners to give their houses a classic Georgian appearance without having to rebuild the entire property. At some point during the second half of the 20th century the once elegant Georgian interior had been completely lost with just the odd clue left behind giving a hint to what might have been. The decision was taken not to recreate what the Georgian interior might have looked like, that wold have been complete guesswork as there were no drawings or photographs available so anything added would only be pastiche. It therefore became a conservation project retaining what was there from whatever period.

The house most likely dated from the late 16th or early 17th century. It was not heavily timbered but does have some exposed beams which have been cleaned, the walls have been repaired with lime plaster and the wide board floors cleaned. All this left the existing fireplaces as the star features. Back to back open fires with brick backs and oak bressumers give character to the two principal reception rooms whiles the magnificent fireplace in the 29’ kitchen/dining room creates not only a natural divide between the two areas, it is a stunning feature. But whose is the coat of arms on one of the 4 double bedrooms fireplace on the first floor and what, if any, significance does this have? Unfortunately it has been impossible to trace the history of the house which may once have formed part of Minster Abbey but perhaps in time more will become known.

Scocles Manor has been rescued from the threat of decline and destruction. It has been given a new lease of life. There is new wiring, plumbing and heating, a modern well-appointed kitchen, a contemporary en-suite shower room for the master bedroom, a family bathroom with traditional rolled-top bath, four good sized double bedrooms on the first floor and an open-plan second floor which could provide further bedrooms, bathroom or become a studio, playroom or an office. Planning consent has been obtained for covered parking; there is already ample parking to the front and side of the house, and consent for a new outbuilding which could become a studio, gym or workshop.

The house is approximately 3,146 sq.ft and sits in just under half an acre.

With the conservation work complete Scocles Manor is now on the market with a price guide of £925,000 to £950,000.

Dawn Carritt
Country Houses & Estate office
020 764 6646

24th February, 2017