Chettle House is an truly magnificent Grade I listed manor house with a fascintating history, no more so than in recent years. Located in the picture perfect hamlet of Chettle, the house is described by Nikolaus Pevsner as:
“…the plum amongst Dorset houses of the early 18th century and nationally outstanding as a specimen of English Baroque.”Nikolaus Pevsner
The house and the wider estate which included the tiny hamlet, with its hotel, manor house, some 40 cottages, farms and lumber yard was in the same family for some 400 years until 2015 where it was finally sold after a family feud tore the family apart, with huge legal fees leading to the sale being inevitable, although this is speculation.
Troubling history aside, the property is quite simply stunning and we have taken the time to do collate as much information as we can, starting with the sales details by the agent…
Manor House for sale!
Its graceful oval structure is built of red brick with dressings of Chilmark stone and the most distinctive feature is the lack of corners, writes the selling agents, Strutt & Parker (in 2015); Thomas Archer’s normal practice was to round off corners wherever possible. There are two principal storeys with basement and attics and a three storey central pavilion. Originally the house was crowned with a central cupola but this was taken down in the 1840’s.
The most striking interior feature is the glorious central sweeping staircase, made of oak with turned balustrades, fluted newels and moulded ramped handrails with two wings that part and circle back to meet at the first floor rising to a galleried landing.
The doorways in the east and west halls have tympana with bas-reliefs, reputedly by Alfred Stevens and there is intricate cornicing in many of the rooms.
There are exceptionally high ceilings on both ground and first floors and impressive vaulted basement rooms. All the principal rooms are very fine, in particular the large south facing drawing room.
The manor house sits very well in its grounds with all the rooms overlooking the delightful gardens and adjoining farmland.
Although converted into a number of separate apartments in the 1950s, there is now an exciting opportunity to restore the house to its former glory, subject to all the necessary consents.
Stone steps lead up to the double doors and into the stone hall. This is a circular room with two large fireplaces, stone flooring and window seats. This leads to the impressive Oak Hall and onto a study. This dramatic hall was described by Pevsner in The Buildings of England as the “great thrill of the interior” with its impressive staircase. There are floor to ceiling rounded sash windows and double doors outside.
The drawing room is accessed through an ante room from the stone hall and was renovated in the 1840s. It has a large open fire with marble surround with carved figures. The ceiling is very ornate with beautiful mouldings decorated with gold leaf and four cherub paintings reputedly by Alfred Stevens. Three sash windows with wooden shutters look south over the paddock and surrounding countryside.
To the north of the stone hall is the dining room which still retains its ceiling rose. There is a further ante room with a bathroom and morning room which overlooks the formal gardens.
At the top of the stairs on the first floor is the Boudoir. This is a delightful room with large fireplace, beautiful cornicing decorated with gold leaf and three sash windows. Doors open out to the first floor apartment on the south side of the house with sitting room, kitchen, two bedrooms and bathroom. On the north of the manor house is the current owners’ apartment. Here there is a sitting room with open fireplace, family room, an elegant dining room with both chandelier and a fireplace. Stairs lead up to the second floor where there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. There are three further rooms on this floor.
The basement of Chettle House is also full of history. There is a large circular room with pillars and features such as a barrel vaulted ceilings. This room, along with two others, were the old kitchens and the large fireplace remains. A circular stone staircase leads up to the attic floor from the basement. There is a two bedroom flat on the south side and numerous store rooms.
To the north of the house are two apartments with their own entrances. They were converted in 1973.
Chettle House is approached through two stone pillars, with the driveway leading to the front of the house with large turning circle filled with various flowers and a stone urn. The gardens to the front of the house are mostly laid to lawn with steps flanked by flower and shrub beds leading up to a croquet lawn and bounded by a beech hedge with five bar gate accessing the Park. Bordering the front lawn to the east is a wooded area known as the lower rookery and, to the north, a further wooded area.
To the south is a further lawn and, beyond the ha-ha, a small paddock which is fenced on the southern boundary and the original kitchen garden wall forms the eastern boundary. Along the wall is an extensive stand of recently planted broadleaf trees including beech, lime and field maple.
To the east of the manor house lie the formal gardens comprising a sunken lawn with central path and two ponds with ornamental features. Beyond these ponds and approached through two cypress trees flanked by flower and shrub beds, is the pretty rose garden planted with a variety of roses, linked with arches of roses and clematis.
Adjoining the north of the house is a partly brick paved courtyard within which is the well. To the north are further sweeping lawns and a yew hedge partly provides the boundary to the village church (the house has a private entrance to the churchyard). The gardens and grounds are studded with some beautiful specimen trees including a number of magnificent cedar, two tulip and an impressive copper beech.
The Park and Woodland
There are approximately 100 acres of parkland and woodland included. The parkland is interspersed with mature horse chestnut, cedar and beech trees.
An enchanting two bedroom cottage nestling in the woodland. Accessed via a private track through the woodland, Keeper’s Cottage was originally built for the estate gamekeeper. It is rare to find a house in such a private and magical setting.
The above details were taken from Strutt & Parker’s original listing in 2015 (here) and may not reflect the condition or state of the property as it stands today. The property was advertsied for sale at the time for £3.95m but may not have been sold for this amount. Details of the sale may be found at the HM Land Registry website.
For more properties just like this go to my blog www.BritishCountryHomes.com
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