Little Bucksteep is a handsome Grade II-listed farmhouse located in the beautiful and tranquil High Weald in East Sussex. Originally built in the late 17th century, with modifications made in the early Georgian style in 1717, it is set within almost eight acres of beautifully designed gardens and grounds. The main house is replete with countless preserved historic features and has six bedrooms, while a separate oast house offers further independent quarters with three bedrooms and generous living space; total accommodation extends to over 6,300 sq ft. The mature gardens have been thoughtfully landscaped over many years into a series of beautiful ‘rooms’ and encompass an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, paddock and enchanting Italianate sunken garden.
Setting the Scene
The main house is built from Ashburnham brick with a timber frame, while a steeply pitched clay tile roof unifies the primary and secondary ranges of the building. Architectural details of note include the very fine winding staircase, linenfold panelling in what was the original entrance, and a majestic open-hearth fire in the living room. Chamfered joists and wood lintels can be found throughout; fenestration is a beautiful mix of leaded casement and box sash windows. The house is a palimpsest of sorts, with later additions blending harmoniously with the original structure. The oast house complements the main house beautifully in materiality and design, with the roundel of the structure in a similar brick, its later phase built from honey-hued sandstone, and all crowned as the main house with a clay peg tile roof. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The house is approached via a private, tree-lined gravel driveway culminating in a substantial forecourt with space for several cars. The principal entrance is to the main house’s easterly wing, through a York stone terrace and opening to the large entrance hall. A study and utility room with a home gym above lie in this range, while the hall itself leads immediately to the main living areas.
The dining room has a beautiful chimneypiece with an open grate fire rescued from Hever Castle. Reclaimed elm boards run underfoot and flow through grand wedding doors to the spacious kitchen, which faces the inner courtyard garden and terrace. Thick pale-grey granite sits atop bespoke oak cabinetry, and a six-door electric Aga marries tradition with modern convenience. A large walk-in pantry is positioned to the rear, and there is a generous full-height cellar.
The living room lies at the rear of the plan, with a handsome inglenook fireplace, 12ft bressummer and glorious woodburning stove. Above lie three of six remarkable framed sets of Protestant Baptist texts from the 1750s, which are dotted around the house and describe its links to the area. Windows at all aspects frame verdant views and invite light in; French windows open immediately to the elegant Italian sunken garden.
An exceptional and grand winding oak staircase leads to the first floor, where three generous bedrooms lie, each with a beautiful en suite bathroom. At the apex of the house on the second floor are two further bedrooms, which have cathedral-like volumes care of the exposed high ceiling pitch. The beautiful oak frame is most evident here, where dormer windows and conservation roof lights allow light to flow through the rooms. A shower room off the spacious landing services both bedchambers.
The oast house lies to the west of the main house and is entirely private. The historic parts of the building form the main body of the house, while a more recent single-storey addition clad in weatherboard with a pitched roof creates further living space. The main living room has a glorious exposed oak frame and capacious ceiling height, with an open-plan kitchen allowing for a sociable life. A cosy sitting room leads to the main bedroom situated in the roundel, with a mirror bedroom above; these are exceptionally unique spaces with great character. A third bedroom and family bathroom also lie on the first floor. This house could be used for holiday lets to generate a handsome yield; it could also be used for additional family accommodation or for staff.
The Great Outdoors
The surrounding gardens are exceptional in their diversity of usage, yet all sections unify and flow together effortlessly. The walls and primary architecture of the gardens, including the barley twist loggia, were completed in the 1920s with more than a nod to Gertrude Jekyll, a noted garden designer of the time.
The Italianate garden is planted simply with white standard roses and lavender, while mature wisteria covers the rear of the house. The parallel borders at the south lawns have been planted with colour in mind, where peonies spring to life at the end of May. Roses are abundant throughout; there is also a separate azalea garden and camellia walk.
An open summer house offers wonderful shaded outdoor accommodation in the warmer months. There is also a large pond with a central footbridge, kitchen gardens, a sizeable greenhouse, an orchard, and several terraces.
Further exterior buildings include a triple garage, a single garage with a garden tool store, a fully functioning workshop, an exterior utility room, and additional stores.
Out and About
Nestled in the landscape of High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dallington village is exceptionally pretty and well served by local amenities including a post office, village hall, recreation ground and primary school, as well as the excellent Swan Inn. There is a local farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and a superb butcher in the nearby village of Broad Oak, along with the Tottingworth farm shop.
The nearby market town of Heathfield offers an excellent range of shops, including a Waitrose and the well regarded Cuculo Deli. Further afield, the historic town of Royal Tunbridge Wells is home to an exceptional range of larger provisors, eateries and plentiful cultural distractions. Antique hunters are well served locally, with great antique shops and auction houses in Battle and Lewes.
There is an excellent choice of both state and independent schools in the area, for day pupils and weekly borders. Dallington CoE primary school is a very good local primary school, acting as a feeder to Heathfield Community College. Additional independent schools include Bedes, Vinehall, St Ronan’s, Claremont, Benenden, Tonbridge School and Mayfield School.
The nearest mainline station at Etchingham is easily accessible from Little Bucksteep – a mere 15-minute drive away – with services to London Bridge taking one hour and 4 minutes precisely.
Little Bucksteep is originally thought to have been part of the greater Bucksteep Manor – an area of some 600 acres dating to the 13th century – with the house’s Georgian phase built in the early 18th century by Thomas and Sarah Bennett, whose initials are still marked within the wall at the main elevation. Pevsner recorded the building as having the appearance of a ‘lesser gentry’ house, yet the interior appears somewhat older in parts. The house’s secondary range, now encompassing the main entrance, was built in 1919 in a wonderfully harmonious Arts and Crafts style. The oast house is believed to have been built in the early 1700s, with the two-bay addition as it currently stands added a few decades later.
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