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Good Manors: Four country homes that were made for hosting

Is there anything more British than good manors? Here, we have selected four sterling examples of what happens when a lavishly crafted home survives the centuries. Allow your l’oeil to be well and truly tromped by these no-holds-barred manor houses: gilt-edged, panelled, swagged, flagged and parqueted to perfection

Cat Sarsfield
Good Manors: Four country homes that were made for hosting

Harlington Manor, Harlington

What happens when you pair farmhouse sensibilities with grand estate energy? You’ll find the answer at Harlington Manor – a majestic, sprawling manor house with ten bedrooms (one of which purportedly hosted Charles II for a night or two), multiple outbuildings and stately, structured gardens.

With foundations dating back to the 14th century, history marks every corner of this sensory home where Victorian simplicity, Georgian romanticism, Tudor opulence and modern farmhouse elegance collide. A medley of materials marks the passage of time. Seek and you will find a patch of the house’s original wattle and daub construction now preserved behind a glass panel; lustrous Jacobean panelling lining the dining room walls and original Tudor fireplaces that continue to draw a courtly crowd.

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Slade Hooton Hall, Sheffield

The statuesque limestone façade of Slade Hooton Hall belies a gilt-edged interior swathed in colour, from the sunny hallway walls to the arresting gloss-red aga – a lip-sticked smile at the heart of this country kitchen. A house built to receive, the two main reception rooms retain their inimitable English country house style. Ornate plasterwork traverses the ceiling and lavish window dressings dramatically drape the generous sash windows that overlook four acres of parkland and undulating South Yorkshire countryside.

The drama continues upstairs, culminating in a trompe l’oeil oil painting of Dido and the Swan and a ceiling light framed by a laurel gold leaf border set above a glinting stained glass window.

There are, of course, less formal rooms in which to retire – such as the sensitively installed glass conservatory that beckons the outside in. A house for every mood, there is also a private pool and vaulted entertainment room for less genteel gatherings …

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Catton Place, Norwich

While the repeating sashes and Ionic columns of Catton Place’s frontage dress to impress, it’s the whimsical, Strawberry-gothic shapes at the rear of the house that set the Grade II*-listed pile apart.

Yours is the central, five-bedroomed section of what was once a single home and – as such – includes all the best bits of the original design, which was conceived by a wealthy textile merchant in the mid-1700s. Sculptural staircases, original flagstone flooring and a sugary stuccoed ceiling elevate the interiors to new heights. The original fabric of the house has been meticulously restored by the current owners. Pevsner would approve.

On the upper floors, octagonal-paned windows jauntily frame the gravelled paths and tidy, topiarised hedges that give way to the wildflower meadows and far-reaching woodlands of the wider Catton Park, which comprises of no less than 70 acres of parkland.

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The Old Manor House, Chilworth

Recorded as the oldest house in the village, the beautifully curved Dutch gable roof and octagonal chimney stacks of The Old Manor House place it firmly in the Artisan Mannerist movement – a heady mix of Jacobean, Classical, Dutch and Flemish styles that has been added to across the centuries.

Beyond the rich red and brown brick, the patina of the wood-lined walls is thrown into relief by vast leaded windows. Choose to spend time in the deliberately grand hosting space or the more cocooning family room and snug located in the original 1600-section of the house. Outside, the heated swimming pool (which, incidentally, mirrors the curvature of the Dutch gables) completes the leisurely lure of striking historic home.

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