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Crowded House: Five homes for the consummate host

Let’s be honest: there are those of us who like to host, and those of us who prefer to be hosted. If you fall into the former category, then we have collected five of our most capacious prospects that will graciously act as a year-round fulcrum for friends and family. From teenage bunkhouses, to heated pools, to campsite-sized lawns with wood-fired hot tubs, these homes are where the party’s at.

Writer
Sophie Sims
Crowded House: Five homes for the consummate host

Compton End, Compton, Hampshire

As the weather warms, there are few places we’d rather be than frolicking in the immaculately tended grounds of this Grade II*-listed house in the Hampshire countryside. Laid out by the original architect, the gardens are as precisely planned as the house itself. They remain largely the same as they did when the house – a 17th-century thatched cottage – was extended at the turn of the century in the Arts and Crafts manner. There’s even a sweet, blush-coloured summerhouse that could happily be transformed into a al-fresco bar for the weekend.

This is a house for all-weather hosting, too. On the ground floor, thoughtfully interconnected living areas encourage guests to perch awhile before picking up their drink and recirculating. There’s even a barn that surely would make a good teenage bunkhouse …

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Selwood Manor, Frome, Somerset

Life looks like one endless party at Selwood, where space is seemingly limitless, guests of every age and inclination are catered for, and there are no neighbours to speak of. If your guest list gets a little out of control, invitees can happily spill over into one of two ancillary buildings: the barn or the pretty, pantile roof-topped cottage.

Add to that Cooper Hall – a contemporary “leisure complex”. On a summer’s day, its heated outdoor is a brilliant prospect; on the rainier of afternoons, the home cinema is a lifeline (provided everyone can agree on a film). Think of Selwood as Frome’s own private party hamlet.

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Bronllys Castle, Bronllys, Powys

There’s a mythical charm to Bronllys Manor, a house that lies on the peripheries of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park. Deep rooted in the history of the local area, it’s believed that the castle occupies the land of the pre-Norman court, or Llys in Welsh, of the princes of Brycheiniog. An even more tangible history is told by the motte-and-bailey castle that stands like a giant chess piece on the edge of the land.

Besides its endless supply of heritage, Bronllys Castle also has plenty of room for hosting across its four separate buildings, including a coach house, cottage and barn. Luckily the main house is equipped with a vast cellar in which to store the necessary provisions. With some parts of the house due some TLC, the house and its ancillary buildings present themselves as a rather palatial opportunity.

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Lower Rudloe Farm, Lower Rudloe, Wiltshire

Sublimely bucolic despite its proximity to Bath and Bristol, a Grade II-listed farmhouse stands as the central node of this expansive, 17-acre nexus in Wiltshire, with several outbuildings clustered around a communal yard. Consummate hosts, the current owners have transformed what was the original milking parlour into four self-contained en suite rooms with kitchenettes. Opposite, a two-storey stone barn is now an open-plan apartment the guests will want to bagsy. There are copious communal spaces to enjoy each other’s company too, including an informal public house and a large bright barn currently used as an events space. Not forgetting the ultimate party pleaser: a brace of woodfired hot tubs, set against the backdrop of the rolling West Country hills.

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Wilcove Lane, Torpoint, Cornwall

Rich finishings abound in this stately, Grade II*-listed Cornish house set in the middle of the National Trust-managed Anthony Estate. Sumptuous colours, textures and thoughtful materials allow its exaggerated Victorian bones to flourish. Here, hosting potential has been harnessed by its current owners, who have made use of its gargantuan, double-aspect dining hall to arrange a 14-seater dining table. (Obviously, you’ll find us in the adjacent kitchen, dancing the night away on the checkerboard floor tiles.)

Grounds of four-and-a-half acres include a pool and multiple lawns on which to lounge. What’s more, with plenty of land comes plenty of space to prop up a cluster of bell tents when the time calls. No doubt Wilcove Lane will become the go-to for any-excuse celebrations. In fact, you might have to start selling tickets …

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