This handsome double-fronted detached Victorian villa lies in Lyncombe Vale in Bath, Somerset. Located just south of the city centre, the house is in a wonderfully bucolic setting, surrounded by open fields and woodland, yet is just a 10-minute walk from the main town and Bath Spa train station. Set over two expansive storeys with five bedrooms, one set into the pitch of the roof, total internal accommodation extends to almost 2,700 sq ft. In addition, a separate coach house has been converted into an independent one-bedroom studio. Beautiful mature tiered gardens lie at the front and the rear, and there is parking for several cars in the driveway.
Setting the Scene
A wonderfully peaceful semi-rural location, Lyncombe Vale is comprised of three sections of fine houses, each with its own name. This house lies in the centre of the central section of houses, named ‘Sunnybank, a reference to its southerly position immediately facing the Lyn brook. Historic maps show that this house was originally named The Brooklands, an additional reference to its position opposite a brook. The house is surrounded by nature; deer are often seen in the fields opposite, and the sound of owls hooting gently undulates in the vale in the evening.
The coach house was built in the early 1880s and the main house later the same decade. Standing proud from the other houses in the row, it is positioned in a wide-set plot, double the width of the others on the row and was built specifically for the speculator-builder. It is constructed from fine honey-coloured limestone ashlar in a neo-Palladian design. Canted bay windows are complemented by beautiful stonework, including an exceptional ornate stone doorcase, with ionic pilasters supporting a leaded transom light and entablature with a split pediment above. Large box sash windows punctuate the façade, and a hipped tile roof crowns the structure. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house has been completely restored and renovated in recent years. A skilful yet sympathetic reimagining of the original proportions allows for contemporary living with an exquisite finish. Standout features include oak parquet flooring, restored box sash windows and cast-iron radiators. A brilliantly conceived two-storey glass addition is set at the rear of the house, with both floors connected by an elegant spiral staircase.
Set behind a low wall and a bank of laurel bushes, the pea gravel driveway leads immediately to the coach house at the rear, with parking for several cars beside the front garden.
The entrance to the main house is through the ornate exterior porch and roundhead six-panel front door, to the spacious inner porch, and through glass wedding doors to the main living space. The open central staircase lies directly ahead.
To the left is the kitchen and dining room, the dining space currently set into the canted bay window overlooking the road; a warming wood burner is nestled in the open hearth. Walls throughout the ground floor are painted in the soothing pale clay tones of ‘Clove’ by Edward Bulmer, and floors are oak parquet, both here and throughout nearly all of the rooms in the house. Decorative Victorian plasterwork and ceiling roses help define the historical context of this now-open room.
The kitchen area is positioned at the back of the room, where a freestanding island unit creates a central focal point. Partially formed of antique science laboratory workbenches, the worktop is copper clad with an inset sink and brass bibcock taps. Further base-level storage cupboards are positioned at the side of the room, painted lead grey and topped with slate. A Falcon range stove is set within the hearth, and French doors open immediately to the garden terrace. A separate pantry with open shelves and Carrara marble worktops is accessed through antique glass doors; it has deep double sinks and a concealed laundry area. There is also a scullery and a separate service entrance here, acting as a boot room and leading to a downstairs WC.
A library sits at the front of the plan. A wonderfully enveloping room, it has a working fire set in the original chimneypiece and views out to the front garden through a large bay window. Elegant dentil cornicing frames the elevations beautifully. At the very rear of the plan is the two-storey contemporary glass addition. On this floor, this space is used as the living room. Here, multiple panes of full-height glass windows and French doors open on two aspects, allowing a wonderful flow between inside and out.
The open staircase leads to a spacious landing on the first floor, where there are four bedrooms; a further spacious bedroom is nestled into the apex of the house. The principal bedroom overlooks the open fields opposite, with a brass bateau tub set into the bay window and a working fire positioned in the original chimney piece. Plasterwork is particularly fine in this room with a wonderful acanthus leaf pattern cornice, and ceiling rose. There is a separate WC and walk-in wardrobe area set to one side. Two further bedrooms share a beautiful shower room encased in slate tiles with unlacquered brassware.
Set into the glass addition on the rear of this floor is an exceptionally light bedroom, surrounded by full-height glass windows. A wall has been finished with hand-stencilled paintings by the artist Kaffe Fassett. A separate bathroom next door has a tall roof pitch with an inset rooflight, adding an impressive sense of volume to the space. A cast-iron clawfoot bathtub is complemented with further unlacquered brassware.
The detached coach house is built from the same limestone ashlar as the main. It is adorned with climbing roses that ascend to the two pitched dormers on either side of the pantile roof. Quadripartite full-height folding glass doors open to the main living area, where the entire interior is clad in pale matt-varnished plywood. A kitchen area is set along the rear wall, and there is a separate wet room. The double-height seating area has a dramatic roof pitch and expansive Velux windows, flooding the room with light. A mezzanine bedroom is set above.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens have been thoughtfully reimagined in recent years, yet great care has been taken to protect the integrity of the original landscape design and more mature tree specimens. The front garden has been wonderfully designed with myrtle, yew, Buxus, rosemary and euphorbia. These plants surround a shallow pond with cherry and pear trees. Wisteria winds its way around the side elevation of the house, enjoying the south-westerly light.
A spacious stone courtyard terrace wraps itself around the rear of the house and is the perfect spot for entertaining. A series of verdant terraces lead upward to the protected woodland and fields at the end of the house. There are raised beds for vegetables, a chicken coop, a built-in barbeque area and a pond set variously on different tiers. A summer house is at the top of the garden with views of the vale below. A canopy of ancient trees provides shady spots here on summer days and a separate seating area and firepit. The planting is diverse, featuring damson, greengage, apple, pear, medlar and quince trees, with plentiful shrubs, herbs and flowers, including yew, mint, bay, rosemary, viburnum, and roses. There is also a bike shed and a log store to the side of the house.
Out and About
Bath has a particular focus on independent shops, restaurants and cafes. Widcombe Parade is just five minutes’ walk from Lyncombe Vale and has a great assortment of cafes, restaurants and shops. Just over the Half Penny Bridge and into town are firm Inigo favourites Colonna and Small’s, the Beckford Bottle Shop, Cafe Lucca, Corkage and Landrace Bakery. The weekly Farmer’s Market at Green Park is excellent for fresh groceries, while the Olive Tree restaurant, Bath’s only Michelin-starred establishment, is just off the famed Circus. 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 green spaces of Alexandra Park and Lyncombe Hill fields are a short walk away, while Royal Victoria Park in the city centre provides a beautiful green expanse and is home to the revered Botanical Gardens. The National Trust Skyline Walk is moments from Lyncombe Vale with exceptional views through six miles of local meadows and ancient woodlands; it begins in the beautiful Prior Park Landscape Garden, managed by the National Trust and featuring the famed Palladian Bridge.
At the end of Lyncombe Vale is the Two Tunnels Greenway walking and cycling route. The Greenway is a revitalised former railway line that includes a mile-long tunnel. It offers an opportunity for walkers and cyclists to travel on level ground from the city centre to the outlying villages of Somerset, with onward cycle connections to the Bath-Bristol cycle route as part of the Sustrans national cycle network. The house is also in the Avon Greenbelt for additional local and county-wide walks. For further adventures in nature, the Cotswold Way lies directly to the north of Bath, and numerous walks and hikes are available in the greater surrounding Somerset countryside.
Bath is renowned for the quality of its schooling and includes King Edward’s, Ralph Allen School, Prior Park College, Royal High, Royal High Junior School, Kingswood School and Kingswood Preparatory School. Closest to home is the excellent Paragon School, one minute’s walk away for children ages three to 11.
Transport links are excellent, with Bath Spa train station positioned on the north bank of the river Avon – around a 10-minute walk from Lyncombe Vale – 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 in just 20 minutes, while Bristol airport is around 20 miles away, or 40 minutes’ drive.
Council Tax Band: G
Sunnybank sits on what was the village of Lyncombe, which existed until the Saxon period, after which it formally became part of the city of Bath. Combe comes from the Celtic word ‘cwm’, meaning ‘valley’, and Lyn is the name of the brook that runs through it.
Georgian Lyncombe, to the south of Bath’s centre, provided a rural refuge from life in town and was fashionable with the local well-to-do of the early 19th century. There were three pleasure gardens in the vicinity, and Lyncombe Vale was a famous beauty spot. In a letter to her sister in 1801, Jane Austen described a walk along the Lyn Brook – where this house now stands – as ‘very beautiful’. Parts of Lyncombe were also later known for wool production from the 1820s onwards.
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