Set amongst idyllic South Gloucestershire scenery, this Grade II-listed 18th-century house was once the village school. The house has undergone exquisite renovation by Rachel Cropper, enhancing its many traditional features while integrating modern interventions to a very high standard. Built in traditional yellow Cotswold stone, its double-fronted, symmetrical façade is instantly recognisable as characteristic of the area’s local vernacular. The house stretches to over 2,000 sq ft, with four spacious bedrooms; set within a generous plot, there is also a large double garage with ample parking. Though ensconced in quiet countryside, Dyrham is a short drive from the M4, with train stations at Bristol Parkway and Bath both easily accessed in around 20 minutes.
Setting the Scene
The area of Dyrham has ties to Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The village as seen today grew around the spectacular ancient manor house, Dyrham Park. The Grade I-listed manor and immense parkland are now owned by the National Trust and are just a short walk from the front door. Within the picture-perfect village is a close-knit community; there is a rotating gardening club and an especially active Women’s Institute. At Christmastime, carols by candlelight are hosted in the local village church. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
Approached down a quiet country lane, the house is set behind a low stone wall. A stone path leads to a period wrought iron gate, opening onto a pretty front garden. A stout timber door painted in elegant tones of Farrow and Ball ‘Sulking Room Pink’ is set under a flat hooded porch with moulded brackets. Three light casement windows, many with original ovolo mullions still in place, are arranged across the handsome façade. Entering into a central hall, narrow pamment tiles are laid in a herringbone pattern; on the far side is a door to the rear garden, creating a useful cross passage. A cosy sitting room is arranged around a stunning 18th-century dressed stone fireplace of striking proportions. Luxurious wool carpet by Crucial Trading stretches out underfoot, and creamy-toned walls in Paint and Paper Library ‘Clean White’ are accented by radiators echoing the same peaceful hues in ‘Wimborne White’ from Farrow and Ball. A dining room lies on the opposite side of the plan. Centred around an original open fire, the room flows naturally on into the kitchen.
Open plan in design, the stunning kitchen has high-pitched ceilings and is flooded with natural light through Crittall windows painted in Little Greene ‘Hammock’ that line the walls on two sides. When opened, the space becomes a wonderful indoor/outdoor room with a patio immediately outside. Underfloor heating runs throughout much of this side of the plan. Bespoke fitted cabinetry by Sola is set to one side, and further dining and living areas have been loosely organised in opposite corners of the room by the current owner. The hand-crafted kitchen is topped with a work surface of Strata Argentum in ‘Riverwash’ by Neolith, and sweeping Italian porcelain tiles run under foot; a Lacanche range completes this meticulously considered room. The large, walk-in larder is accessed via a hallway with further bespoke cabinetry. A perfectly-formed laundry utility room lit from ceiling lights is tucked alongside. A side return to the front of the plan has been turned into a stunning office space with separate access.
Ascending to the first floor, two large bedrooms are arranged around a central landing. The principle bedroom is adjoined by a pretty en suite shower room while the second bedroom has ample built-in storage. A tranquil family bathroom is centrally placed, tiled in beguiling shades of pink. The freestanding bath by Lusso beckons, while the room’s airy sensibility is enhanced with fluted glass Crittall doors along one side. An Arabescato marble basin with brass taps completes this beautiful space. On the second floor, two further bedrooms have been arranged amongst exposed beam work. Dormer windows in each large bedroom take in sweeping views of garden and surrounding countryside. Floorboards running throughout the first and second floors are period elm timber carefully reclaimed from the home’s original fabric.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens surrounding the house were carefully planned during the extensive refurbishment. Borders have been planted with herbaceous perennials and evergreen shrubs. A substantial lawn lies to the rear of the plan, bordered by woodland and a babbling brook beyond. A sweeping patio is directly off the kitchen. With local light stone South Cerney gravel, the space is ideal for entertaining in warmer months. The double garage clad in Siberian larch timber completes the outdoor space.
Out and About
The house is perfectly positioned for easy access to the surrounding Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset countryside. Nearby, the village of Marshfiled has vital amenities covered, with shops, a doctors surgery, tearooms and cafés. Hinton, also in easy reach, is home to a sensational pub named The Bull. Another local favourite, The Cross House, can be found in Doyton. By far the most notable local attraction is the spectacular 17th-century house and garden of Dyrham Park–maintained by The National Trust–where visitors can dig deep into history, gain valuable gardening tips, and even learn how to build a bug hotel. There are two cafés located within Dyrham Park, and village residents are given free access to the house and parkland. Likewise, the popular Peto Gardens at Iford Manor, The Tithe Barn, the Saxon Church at Bradford-on-Avon, and the beautiful Cotswold village of Castle Combe, recently voted the prettiest place in Great Britain, are all easily reached. Lucknam Park is also nearby, with stables, a hotel, a spa, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. A Waitrose can be found at Chipping Sodbury, around 15 minutes away. The buzzing centres of both Bath and Bristol are nearby, 15 and 25 minutes away by car respectively; both are home to a huge variety of culinary, cultural, and sporting venues.
The house sits in the catchment area for a good selection of both private and state primary and secondary schools.
Chippenham train station is around 25 minutes drive away, with journeys to London Paddington taking 70 minutes on the fast, direct mainline, which calls at only three other stations.
Council Tax Band: G
The site of Dyrham Park has been occupied since the Bronze Age – if not before – with remains of barrows and worked flints discovered nearby. In 577, a great battle was waged here with the Saxons defeating the Britons before capturing Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath. The battle was a significant victory for the West Saxons in banishing the Britons into Wales and Cornwall.
In 972, the estate belonged to Pershore Abbey in Worcestershire. It is recorded in the Domesday Book being transferred from Aelfric to Thurstan fitz Rolf, a Norman soldier. The manor itself was first documented in a 1311 survey during the occupation of Sir William Russel. The survey included a description of the hall, a high great chamber, and wine cellars. This structure was rebuilt in 1466. The house was owned by leading naval administrator brothers William and George Wynter from 1571. Sir William was a commander in the war against the Spanish Armada in 1588. The brothers invested in Sir Francis Drake’s 1577 project to circumnavigate the globe. By the time their heir, Mary Wytner, married William Blathwayt in 1686, the house was in dire need of repair.
Blathwayt is largely credited for turning Dyrham into the opulent baroque manor seen today, complete with 274 acres of formal gardens and parklands used to support fallow deer. Blathwayt employed an architect named William Talman, and prestigious landscapers George London and Henry Wise. He employed colleagues from America to source luxury walnut and cedar timber to build the panelling and stairs. Other features include gilt leather wall panels from Amsterdam, a tea table from Java, and Carrara marble from Italy. The generations after Blathwayt squandered his fortune and had to sell items from the house to pay off their debts. The house and gardens fell into disrepair. Lieutenant Colonel George tried to buy back the art and furniture when he inherited the house in 1844. He also spent heavily on renovations including central heating, kitchens, new roofs, and upgraded servants’ quarters.
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