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Front Runners: first-rate façades from the 18th century

Never mind inner beauty – it’s first impressions that matter. And the paradigms of prettiness? We’ve compiled a roundup of the finest Queen Anne and Georgian frontages in our current listings

Front Runners: first-rate façades from the 18th century

Beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and styles – stucco, stone or pointed brick, with parapets, pediments or crisp carved cornicing… While we generally don’t approve of judging books by their covers, a house fair of face is, more often than not, full of grace too, once you step inside. And the most prepossessing, well-proportioned and elegant of them all? Inigo is not alone in putting Queen Anne and Georgian houses on a pedestal – the holy grail for those that find a good countenance as desirable as a practical floorplan. Unsurprisingly, our listings are brimming with such bonny-fronted 18th-century buildings; here, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites currently on the market to help you on your hunt for a handsome house.

SHAW HOUSE, MELKSHAM, WILTSHIRE

As if a long and leafy lime tree-lined drive wasn’t enough… With 12-pane sash windows on both storeys and a pedimented and subtly projecting central section, the proportions of this Wiltshire manor house are perfect – rigorous without feeling taut, and grandly generous. Shaw House is a picture of Queen Anne stateliness in Cotswold stone slate and oatmeal ashlar.

HARTLAND POINT, HARTLAND, DEVON

Part of what makes this Georgian house quite so striking to look at is its elevated position, high above the dramatic beaches of the north Devon coast. But aside from its lofty location, it also benefits from the smart but simple – and typically 18th-century – design of its façade, with five regular bays and a porticoed doorway. We’re particularly taken by that regal shade of blue, too.

WHITWELL HOUSE, HUNTINGDON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE

We can’t work out if Whitwell House is more chocolate-box or doll’s house, but what we do know is that it’s jolly pretty. Set over three storeys, the Queen Anne core was refaced in 1727. Now, the front’s marching symmetry lends the house a pleasing rhythm, while the flat parapet, concealing the roof, helps regulate the proportions. And a bonus: the classically minded rear façade – a 1791 addition based on a sketch by Henry Holland – is as winsome as the front.

THE OLD RECTORY, RYTON, TYNE AND WEAR

Though it was originally a Medieval bishop’s palace, The Old Rectory was drastically remodelled in the Baroque period, when it was given something of a facelift. Perhaps a little more austere than other Queen Anne confections, thanks to the dark sandstone, it’s not without impressive details – sharply hewn quoins and copings, for instance, or the door’s white broken scrolled pediment, dating to 1709, within which are set the arms of Bishop Lord Crewe (the last Prince Bishop), picked out in colour. Simply marvellous.

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