A historic and fascinating Grade II* detached house in a highly regarded market town
Situated in the heart of Burford, The Great House, a superb English Baroque town house, looms like an Italian palazzo amidst shops and cottages, delighting visitors to the town with its magnificence. The Great House is Grade II* listed being of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it. The house wears this distinction with great ease, combining a gracious seven bay façade , many wonderful period features and modern comforts. The Great House was constructed in Ashlar stone from a quarry in nearby Taynton, beneath a hipped Cotswold stone roof over four storeys and seven bays. Semi-circular steps lead up to a magnificent pedimented doorway. The first-floor windows have alternating triangular and segmental pediments and round and octagonal attic windows in rectangular frames. The unusual castellated parapet is a nod to Dr John Castle, a prominent and prosperous physician, who commissioned the property. The identity of the architect is unknown but characteristics within the property suggest the involvement of Christopher Kempster or Nicholas Hawksmoor, both contemporaries of Sir Christopher Wren.
Dating from about 1680 The Great House was built on the site of the Black Boy Inn which Dr Castle had inherited. The property retains the Inn's cellars and as such has unusually high ceilings with what is believed to be original ovens and wine alcoves. The property was acquired by Thomas Fettiplace, member of a local Jacobite landowning family, between 1746 and 1765 and it is likely that he extended the property to the rear.
The Great House is a truly distinguished property with historic, literary and political connections. At one time it was occupied by friends of the diarist and novelist Fanny Burney who visited as did Dr Samuel Johnson, poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer, and the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. During World War Two Churchill regularly stayed at Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire while some members of the Cabinet resided at The Great House.
The current owners have lived at The Great House for 28 years and during their tenure have overseen a comprehensive programme of restoration to return the property to its former glory.
A substantial pedimented door opens to an imposing reception hall with oak floor and paneled walls. An oak staircase with fluted balusters and carved handrail leads up to the first floor. A particular feature of the hall and staircase is the paintings of religious and allegorical subjects such as The Agony in the Garden, Jacob's Ladder and Faith, Hope and Charity. The paintings are attributed to a Dutch painter, James de Witte. The charming drawing room and formal dining room are both beautifully proportioned with wall panels, large sash windows with original shutters to the front and handsome period fireplaces and are perfect for entertaining. A step leads from the drawing room to a spacious private library with a magnificent stone fireplace which leads on to a study and large room currently used as a games room with a staircase to a print room on the first floor. Adjoining the dining room is a well-appointed kitchen which is fitted with a range of cabinets. Potential exists to relocate the kitchen to the private library. At the rear of the property is a small hall providing access to the south-facing garden room, a generous and sunny room with a fireplace. Completing the ground floor accommodation is a cloakroom.
On the first floor are six bedrooms, all of which are beautifully presented. The principal bedroom lies to the rear with three tall sash windows framing views over the garden. Steps lead up to a stunning bathroom with blue wall panels, some with painted arabesques possibly dating from about 1750. It is believed that this room was a chapel for Catholic owners who could convert the room quickly to a normal domestic room if need be. There are five further bedrooms, an en suite bathroom and two shower rooms. Overlooking the garden is a charming drawing room which could of course be used as a bedroom. Completing the first floor is a useful laundry room. The first floor layout is very flexible and can be configured to suit specific needs due to the interconnected nature of most of the rooms.
The second floor is particularly special. Believed to originally be used by the ladies of the house to exercise or to entertain in inclement weather, the Long Gallery is a wonderful space which is enjoyed by the current owners in a variety of ways and includes areas for sitting and music. Round windows ensure plenty of daylight into the room. A door leads to a useful storage room.
Beneath the property are extensive cellars which house the boiler room and are perfect for general storage and storing wine. The cellars occupy the lower ground floor with windows to the front.
Attached at one end of the property is a cottage set out over the lower ground and ground floor comprising a living room and kitchen as well as three bedrooms, a bathroom and laundry room. The cottage can be accessed from The Great House on two levels and is ideal for staff accommodation. The private gardens lie to the rear of the property and have been lovingly landscaped into different rooms' by the current owners who have created an oasis of calm. A special feature of the garden is the manicured box borders which flank a paved pathway steering you through the garden and beneath an archway to a further area, also with box borders. There are well-stocked borders, areas of lawn and a magnificent Wellingtonia. The gardens are enclosed by high stone walls. A paved terrace lies along the rear elevation which is a perfect spot to enjoy the lovely garden.
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The Great'est House in Burford! This is a very special and unique house and this is a fantastic opportunity to become the next custodian.David HendersonProperty agent