Archive for the ‘Property’ Category
“In the 1900s it was known as Black Dick’s Castle, after a local highwayman,” he says. “Later it was called Keeper’s Tower, as the keeper of the estate lived here. But I like Sham Castle. It has a light-hearted feel, which is the spirit of the folly.”
Sham Castle was built in the late 1700s by Sir Edward Smythe, a local squire whose niece, Maria Fitzherbert, married George IV. Principally, it houses a hugely ornate music chamber; the family used to promenade there in the summer and be entertained with small concerts. When Christopher bought the folly, intricate plasterwork featuring musical instruments still survived on the ceiling. But it had been allowed to fall into woeful state. Even parts of the roof had fallen in.
In the mid-Eighties, the building had been purchased by a local philanthropist for £1 and renovated, but in a “rather ham-fisted way” involving “chipboard flooring and nasty carpets”. Christopher had a big job on his hands. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
Joanne and David Waltham, and their two children Charlie, eight, and Marie, five, are considering a move from Staines to either Cirencester or Marlborough. Joanna, an internet aficionado, has managed to narrow down their options and decide on the best place to live without leaving her sitting room.
She began with the basics, finding the top schools by viewing league tables online. Taking this as a starting point, she used Rightmove to work out which of these schools had affordable four-bedroom houses nearby. Then, using Google Earth, she had a virtual “walk” around these areas to see which were most appealing.
Finally, as Joanne is prolific on Twitter – she has around 5,000 followers – she followed accounts like @WiltshireLife and @Cirencester, which gave her handy snippets of local news. She also sent out a tweet asking for information about their shortlisted areas. The response was “overwhelming”.
“One of our main concerns was for our daughter, who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder,” says Joanne. “She receives an excellent level of support at her current school, and we were worried that a new school might not come up to the same high standard.”
Twitter users put her mind at rest. They were able to offer a wealth of helpful contacts and information about autism support in Marlborough. “They even answered questions I hadn’t asked,” she recalls. “One person told me about a really good Riding for the Disabled group in Marlborough. It had never occurred to me, but Marie would really love to go horse riding. That really added to the appeal of moving there.” Continue reading on the Telegraph website
‘It’s very hard to snuggle up to a white radiator,” says 57-year-old Vincent Thurkettle, author of The Wood Fire Handbook, his eyes glinting with joie de vivre. “But it’s the easiest thing in the world to snuggle up to this.”
He gestures to the roaring wood fire, in front of which is positioned an old, sagging sofa. In the winter, he tells me, when he comes in after a long day working outdoors, he often curls up on the sofa for a nap.
This week, we had the first frost of winter. Across the country, central heating systems are being turned on, and people are starting to look for cosy corners in which to bundle up. According to Philip Harvey from the buying agents Property Vision, the property market reflects this.
“As the weather starts to turn and the nights draw in, buyers’ minds change from looking for a property to take advantage of a hot summer’s day to properties to snuggle up in on a cold winter’s night,” he says. “Some want a property with a large working fireplace in the drawing room, or an environmentally friendly log burner. Others prefer inglenook fireplaces, or those that have a snug built in to ensure that the fireplace is large enough to heat the entire room.” Clearly, Vincent Thurkettle is not alone in his passion for wood fires.
But he has taken it further than most. Seven years ago, when he was 50, Thurkettle was at the peak of his career as the deputy director of the East of England Forestry Commission. His career had been defined by his love of trees and the outdoors, but he found that his seniority meant that he was permanently stuck behind a desk. Men like him may dream of changing their lives, but few have the courage to do it.
Not so for Thurkettle. He left his job and found new “life-enhancing” ways of making a living. “There’s not one minute of any day that I wish I was back in the office,” he says. “I work twice as hard for half the money, but I’m happy.” Most of his time is spent outdoors, and his life follows the seasons.
In March, he tends to his field of Christmas trees that he sells later in the year. In April, once the trees are all flourishing, he goes diving for sunken treasure at an 18th-century wreck off the coast of Britain, and prospects for Welsh gold. He doesn’t make much from these hobbies, he says, but he makes enough. In September he returns to Norfolk to sell his trees until Christmas. Then he “clears off somewhere warm”, like Australia, Spain or Morocco, and spends three months writing. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
Reader, if you harbour even the slightest Luddite tendency – if you worry about your children playing video games, dislike the idea of Kindles, or fret that social networking will make traditional friendships obsolete – look away now. When it comes to technology, the Gibson family pulls no punches.
In fact, they have built their lives around it. Almost every room in their 150-year-old, four-bedroom, stone farm house in Yorkshire has at least one television (the house has eight in total), all of which are centralised and can play any film or television show on demand. They also host a bewildering variety of computer games.
The heart of the house – or as Jane puts it, “the room we spend most of our lives in” – is a fully automated home cinema, with a seven-feet screen on which they can watch films, television and browse the internet. And when they’ve finished doing that, the two boys, Thomas, 14, and Ryan, 12, take over the big screen for some PlayStation fun (their favourite game at the moment is Assassin’s Creed).
“But they can’t just watch and play whatever they like,” says Jane. “Even if I’m out of the house, I can see exactly what they’re watching on my iPad. If I don’t approve, I can press the ‘lockout’ button and the screen will automatically go dead until the following morning.” Continue reading on Telegraph website
Britain’s most expensive, luxury rental properties fail to attract interest for the Olympics (from the Sunday Telegraph)
In recent months, there has been a rash of reports of luxury properties being rented out for the Olympics for eye-watering sums. Leading the pack was a seven-bedroom house in Brick Street, Mayfair, which came complete with a cinema, games room, bar, gym, swimming pool, solarium and sauna. This, at £100,000 per week, was set to make history as the most expensive London let ever. Close on its heels was a penthouse at 116 Knightsbridge, next door to 1 Hyde Park. It boasted a 150-foot frontage with panoramic views of the Serpentine, 9000 square feet of lateral living space, and 2000 square feet of terrace and roof gardens. The price? £75,000 per week. Former Arsenal and England footballer Sol Campbell is offering his Chelsea pad – which has a separate mews house for the housekeeper, connected to the main house by a tunnel – at the same rate (he and his wife will be roughing it in another of their properties, a 2,400 sq ft apartment down the road).
All of these prices have been massively inflated for the games. “Normally, a short-term let would be 30 to 50 per cent higher than the long-term price,” says Lisa Simon, Head of Lettings at Carter Jonas. “In the Olympic period, however, we are seeing increases of up to 300 per cent.” The penthouse, for instance, normally goes for a weekly rate of £25,000, and the Mayfair house for £40,000. Clearly, these high-end landlords had their eye on a different sort of Olympic gold.
But things are not looking good for the property moguls. With the games only months away, Carter Jonas has received not a single enquiry for the penthouse. Sol Campbell’s house remains on the market, too. And although Knight Frank says that the mansion in Brick Street, Mayfair, is “no longer available,” the lack of fanfare from the agents makes it doubtful whether it achieved the asking price. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
It all started in Victorian times. “One of my forebears was the stationmaster of King’s Cross Station,” says Anna Gudge. “It was a prestige job in those days. He used to wear a top hat and tails, and roll out the red carpet for the Queen. He became a big part of family folklore.”
Anna never learnt her ancestor’s name, but she certainly inherited his passion for railways. She grew up in the Fifties, in a house beside the old Cavendish station in Suffolk, and her childhood was filled with steam trains. “When I was five or six, I made friends with the stationmaster next door and his wife,” she says. “I would spend hours sitting in the signal box helping him change the points .” His wife would bring them “weak tea and biscuits”, she recalls; then she would “toddle home again”.
After Anna was married in 1968, she and her husband moved into a disused level crossing house just down the line from her childhood home. “It was a tiny two-up-two-down, with a bathroom tacked on to the back,” she recalls. “It was cramped, but also idyllic.” This was a prelude for what was to come. Years later, in October 1994, Anna and her new partner Mark spent £100,000 on an entire 1865 railway station – Long Melford, two stops down from Cavendish – to convert into a family home. Read more on the Telegraph website
Given the stagnancy of the housing market and the paucity of credit, first-time buyers are having a tougher time than ever. Gemma Morris, 23, and her partner Paddy McBride, 27, are looking to develop their first property. “We feel we need guidance,” says Gemma. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be brave enough to take the plunge.”
Thankfully, Gemma has a rather special mother. Sylvia, 69, who has four children (Gemma is the youngest) and six grandchildren, has developed and sold nine properties over the past 30 years – and shows no sign of stopping. She is currently looking for her next renovation project, and has put her three-bedroom home in Lightwater, Surrey, up for sale. Dilapidated when she bought it, it now has an extension on the front and a mews-style house at the back. The property, which Sylvia bought for £345,000, is on the market for £675,000 (astonmead.com; 01344 209000).
“People think I’m mad,” says Sylvia. “My husband Kenny, who died in 2006, would come back from work to find I’d knocked a wall down. You could say I’ve got the renovation bug.” Continue reading on the Telegraph website