This wonderful Grade II three-bedroom barn conversion in Kent lies in a peaceful village close to historic Canterbury. Built as a granary in the 18th century, the house has retained many original features, such as exposed beams and voluminous proportions, which have been irresistibly blended with contemporary additions to create a warm house full of charm. Nestled in a third of an acre of garden, with mature trees and a verdant lawn, it is both wonderfully rural yet is ideally located for easy access to London, with regular trains running from Canterbury West in under an hour.
Setting the Scene
Set at the end of a farm track, the house is part of a small cluster of converted original farm buildings. Surrounded by rolling fields, it is wonderfully rural, with the babbling River Stour within easy reach, providing country walks along the river and into Stodmarsh Nature Reserve from the front door. Built from red brick in a Flemish bond construction, the original granary was extended in the 19th century to create the lovely house it is today. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is accessed through a wide wooden field gate leading into a pretty front garden planted with colourful Cornus shrubs; there is parking for at least four cars with ease and space to easily overflow outside the gates. Entry is to a neat entrance hall with space for hanging coats and stowing shoes. This leads to a brilliantly bright, glazed, central corridor that runs through the middle of the conversion. Straight ahead is the vibrant living room, which is open to the kitchen and dining room.
The living room is a well-thought-out space, which is both light and cosy. It is illuminated by a pair of skylights set into the roof while an arched Crittall-style window and a set of French doors open to the garden. Floorboards run underfoot, here and in most of the house, and the walls have been painted in a rich ‘Card Room Green’ by Farrow & Ball, creating an enveloping space. Above, exposed beams have been painted white, drawing the eye upwards to the vaulted ceiling, adding drama. A fireplace is set in the corner with a wood burner that warms the room on colder days.
Next door is the kitchen and dining space, accessed through an open door frame, allowing light to flow around the plan. There is plenty of cabinetry in the bespoke kitchen, painted in the moody ‘Downpipe’ by Farrow & Ball, adding depth and complementing the lighter worktops. A butcher’s block adds a rustic touch. A Lacanche dual fuel range cooker and extractor is perfect for the keen cook, while a pair of windows sit above a large butler’s sink, framing lovely views of the garden. There is space next to another arched window for a large dining table and chairs, making the room perfect for cooking while entertaining.
The entire first floor is given over to the primary suite, sitting above the former grain store and accessed by stairs leading from the main corridor. Here, hardy sisal carpet runs underfoot, and walls have, again, been finished in white, which maximises light drawn in from French doors leading to the garden. A bespoke walk-in wardrobe with automatic sensor lighting provides plenty of extra storage. An en suite shower room is painted in soft pastel tone of ‘Alabaster’ by Bauwerk, creating a sense of luxury and calm. Maitland & Poate reclaimed Spanish tiles line the floor, while the shower is clad in rich green Zellige tiles, creating a pleasing contrast.
On the ground floor are two further bedrooms and a family bathroom. Both bedrooms have exposed beams and garden views, while the bathroom has a cast-iron roll-top bath that matches the ‘Nightshade’ by Bauwerk on the walls. Bathroom fittings are almost exclusively from the Cast Iron Bath Company.
The Great Outdoors
Outside, a large area of decking is the perfect spot for entertaining and barbequing on a summer’s day. A small lawn leads to a wooden summerhouse with electricity, which could be used as an office. The garden is bordered by mature willow trees and a bamboo hedge, with beds filled with rosemary, thyme and lavender. The front garden has been left wild but established apple and pear trees burst into bloom in spring.
Upstreet is a small rural village with plenty of walks from the house into the nearby Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, with some of the best bird watching in the country. There is a convenient shop and 17th-century pub, the Royal Oak, located in the village.
Sturry is an eight-minute drive and has a farm shop, a butcher and plenty of other facilities. Canterbury city centre is under a 20-minute drive. A world UNESCO site, it is renowned as a cultural centre and for its excellent places to eat and shop. Particular attractions include The Marlow Theatre, Lilford Gallery, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, and the beautiful Westgate water gardens to be experienced on foot or by punt. There is also a Curzon Cinema annexed to Westgate Hall, a much-loved community centre and event space. The city has a wide selection of cafes and restaurants, including local favourites Kitch, Wildwood, and Marlowe’s Restaurant.
The area is a delightful pocket of culinary experiences with The Pig at Bridge Place and a number of Michelin-star restaurants, including Fordwich Arms, which is a quick 10-minute drive by car.
Home to the independent King’s School, Canterbury, the city also has three excellent grammar schools, Barton Court and Simon Langton (Two separate single-sex schools).
Canterbury West mainline station is a 20-minute drive away and runs fast services into St Pancras in under an hour.
Council Tax Band: E
Built on the banks of the river Stour, there has been a settlement where Upstreet has been since Roman times. The river was used as an important highway, connecting nearby Canterbury with the waterways of the Continent through to the Medieval period. Today, traces of this history can be found in the line of fortifications built along the coastline at Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lympne. The route that the Romans used to connect these fortifications, today a long-distance footpath known as The Saxon Shore Way, passes directly through Upstreet.
Upstreet’s history over the years reflects agricultural Kent’s broader history. For centuries, the surrounding area was used as farmland, known for its grain and fruit production. In the early 19th century, Upstreet and its neighbouring communities garnered national attention through widespread uprisings by agricultural workers. ‘The Swing Riots’, named after the fictitious character ‘Captain Swing’, whose swinging stick of the flail was used in hand threshing, were the result of impoverishment and exploitation of the agricultural workforce by wealthy landowners. Matters came to a head with the implementation of mechanised threshing devices, which meant lower costs for the landowners but a significant spike in unemployment among the workforce.
Much of Upstreet’s recent history has been linked to the expansion of the area around neighbouring Margate. Despite being a popular seaside resort during the Victorian period, Margate subsequently fell out of fashion as holidaymakers began increasingly looking towards the Europe. In recent years, regenerative projects – like the establishment of the Turner Contemporary in 2001 – aimed at building on the town’s historic and cultural legacies have seen it transformed into a fashionable creative hub.
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