This outstanding Grade I-listed five-bedroom townhouse is situated in a conservation area in Lansdown, just north of the historic city of Bath. The home is positioned on a Regency terrace on the coveted Sion Hill Place, which has been named by The Times as one of the six best streets to live on in the UK. Unfolding over five exquisite storeys, the plan extends to nearly 4,000 sq ft and has been meticulously restored throughout; in addition to the main accommodation, there are self-contained quarters on the lower ground floor. There is a glorious private walled garden at the rear, while verdant south-facing views extend over immaculate communal gardens to the front of the house, onto the city and the rolling Somerset hills.
Setting the Scene
The house was designed by John Pinch the Elder in 1809 and completed in 1818; it is considered his finest residential work. An exceptional level of craftsmanship and artistry is evident internally and externally in all the houses on the terrace, with some of the finest plasterwork in Bath housed in their principal rooms and a standard of original stonework and joinery not often so well preserved. Sion Hill Place is the northernmost of the urban set pieces of Bath; amazingly private and quiet, yet only a 20-minute walk to the centre of town. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The house lies at the end of a peaceful winding lane, lined with trees and greenery. It is made of beautiful, honey-coloured Bath stone, with a noble façade of fine ashlar in the Palladian style that is punctuated by expansive sash windows. Detailing on the façade includes a Vitruvian scroll frieze at the second storey and banded rustication with incised voussoirs at ground level. A delicate cast-iron balcony with space for seating spans the width of the piano nobile.
Entry is through a spacious and wonderfully bright inner hallway, with a cobweb fanlight above, aged flagstones underfoot and a sculptural cantilevered stone staircase at its centre. Exquisite cornicing in a rosette and waterleaf pattern is supported by a dentil projection underneath. Door architraves are similarly ornate, with beautiful mouldings that echo the plasterwork found throughout the house. Pale, chalky colours such as ‘Cornforth White’ and ‘Wevet’ by Farrow & Ball characterise the space and indeed, the ensuing spaces, lending a soft quality to the light within.
To the right is the dining room, leading effortlessly into the kitchen, with exceptional strapwork plaster ceilings in the neoclassical style unifying both rooms. Fenestration at both aspects allows natural light to flood in, while Russian pine boards run underfoot; cupboards have been built into nearly all of the alcoves. The dining room has an exquisite chimneypiece at its centre; the kitchen has appliances by Gaggenau and is designed for cooking and entertaining, with beautiful verdant views across the garden. Work surfaces are topped with Carrara Oro marble, which sits atop stainless-steel cupboards; a capacious, deep blue glass-fronted cabinet opposite is home to crockery and glassware. Twin pantries lie on either side.
Ascending the stone staircase, a magnificent drawing room is positioned at the front of the first-floor plan to take advantage of views of the row’s private gardens through two tall sash windows with original shutters. This room has exceptionally generous proportions and a remarkable Greek key plasterwork cornice, typical of the late-Regency period. A working fire grounds the room and affords intimacy to the grand space. Positioned to the rear is the withdrawing room, historically used for board games and music, but currently used as a bedroom with wonderful views of the garden and its own separate shower room.
The main bedroom can be found on the second floor; this is a beautifully decorated space with soft limewashed floorboards, plentiful storage and a spacious en suite bathroom overlooking the garden. The upper storey of the house is home to three further bedrooms, one of which is currently used as a walk-in wardrobe. Original chimneypieces and joinery feature in all the rooms, including the charming bathroom, which is home to a cast-iron bath discovered in the house’s vaults and repurposed with patterned tiles by Fired Earth.
The lower ground floor is currently organised as a two-bedroom apartment with an additional bathroom and kitchen. Natural light floods in through lightwells to the front and rear. There is an original built-in dresser in the main living room and a glass-paned butler’s pantry with a dumb waiter. The main bedroom is decorated in wallpaper by Colefax & Fowler. A bathroom with a claw-foot bath is positioned in a domical vault, which was once a cold store for meats.
The Great Outdoors
Entrance to the walled rear garden is through a ground floor boot room with storage and a separate WC. The garden has been beautifully landscaped into a series of tiers and is surrounded by deep beds of herbaceous planting. An immaculate lawned area is the centre point, with a top paved terrace acting as an informal alfresco dining area surrounded by climbing roses. Directly behind the garden is secluded conservation woodland, known locally as ‘The Secret Garden’ and owned by the local Kingswood school, while directly in front of Sion Hill Place are communal gardens for the exclusive use of residents of the terrace.
The glorious High Common is minutes away, while nearby Royal Victoria Park provides a wonderful green expanse and is home to the revered Botanical Gardens. For further adventures in nature, the Cotswold Way lies directly to the north of Bath and myriad walks and hikes are available in the greater surrounding Somerset countryside.
Out and About
Bath is well served by outstanding retailers and restaurants, with a particular focus on independent provisors. Colonna and Small’s, Corkage, Landrace Bakery and the weekly Farmer’s Market are of particular note, while at the foot of Sion Hill is the Marlborough Tavern. The city’s cultural distractions are plentiful, with brilliant theatres and galleries; The Holburne Museum, the Fashion Museum and The Edge arts centre all hold world-class exhibitions.
The area is renowned for the quality of its independent and state schooling, including St Stephens’ Primary School, King Edward’s and Prior Park College. Royal High, Royal High Junior School, Kingswood School and Kingswood Preparatory School are directly behind Sion Hill Place and mere moments away on foot.
Transport links are excellent, with Bath Spa train station at the southern edge of the city centre – around a 30-minute walk from Sion Hill Place or a short car journey – providing a direct line to London Paddington in under 80 minutes. The M4 motorway lies to the north of the city and is quickly reachable by car.
Lease Length: 286 years (492 years from 24th June 1815)
The Bathonian painter William Hayes took out a lease on this plot – formerly named Lower Crannells – in 1809. He commissioned John Pinch the Elder to build a palace-fronted Regency terrace in what was then considered a secluded and remote location. Positioned to take full advantage of its glorious southern prospect, the terrace – made up of just nine houses – was completed in 1818 and is considered Pinch’s finest residential work.
Bath was recently included in Time Magazine’s edition: “The World’s Greatest Places of 2021” and is the only city in Britain to achieve Unesco World Heritage status, which continues to be vehemently protected. Uniquely situated in a hollow in the hills, the surrounding Somerset countryside makes an incredible backdrop for the city. Founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans, who famously used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa, it became an important centre for the wool industry in the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, under George III, it developed into an elegant city with neoclassical Palladian buildings.
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