Raydon Hill House is a wonderful Grade II-listed house in the exceptionally pretty and peaceful Oxfordshire village of Wroxton. The main house has six bedrooms and is a seamless amalgamation of two houses, based on an L-plan and replete with countless original features from the 17th and 18th centuries. There is also a fully restored stone barn and a charming three-bedroom double-fronted cottage attached; in total, accommodation extends to over 6,000 sq ft. The gardens have been thoughtfully landscaped into a beautiful series of ‘rooms’ and abut the grounds of Wroxton Abbey, an important Jacobean country house with 56 acres of beautiful grounds.
Setting the Scene
Raydon Hill House was originally a farmhouse linked to Wroxton Abbey. Its primary east-facing vernacular range was built in the 17th century, while its secondary, more polite section – facing south to the gardens – was built around 1721. The original house was made from locally quarried, squared coursed ironstone; the Georgian wing was built using ironstone ashlar, with a steeply pitched slate roof unifying both ranges. Roof dormers feature at the rear elevation, as do beautiful leaded casement windows. Chamfered joists and wood lintels can be found throughout. Of exceptional note is the closed well staircase with wedding doors entrance, one of the most important examples of its kind in England.
For more information on the village of Wroxton and Wroxton Abbey, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The scenic village of Wroxton lies within a conservation area and is situated in the north of Oxfordshire, close to the Cotswolds borders. Entrance to Raydon Hill House is just off Mills Lane at the edge of the village, through electronically operated gates that open to a pea gravel courtyard with room for multiple cars. The buildings are positioned on a horseshoe plan around the private central courtyard.
The principal entrance is to the main house via a characterful stone porch. A stone-flagged hallway connects both sections of the house, with the Georgian range to the left leading immediately to the sitting room, a relaxed and cosy room with a capacious inglenook fireplace and a 12ft oak bressummer. This room leads directly to the airy drawing room, which has original oak floorboards, beautiful fielded wainscoting and an elegant chimneypiece. Light floods in through two casement windows that have panelled shutters and window seats set within, to enjoy verdant views of the gardens.
The primary range of the house is to the right of the hallway, which leads to a handsome dining room with characterful oak beams. Adjacent is the kitchen, a generously proportioned room with seating for up to 10 people – perfect for relaxed kitchen suppers. The dramatic open hearth is home to a triple Aga and the exposed timber ceiling lends a unique strength to the room. The handmade cabinets are painted cream and topped with untreated oak worktops. A barn door leads onto the court, providing an additional, more casual, entrance; a boot room, utility room and WC are positioned to the side, off a secondary hallway. Original stone floors characterise all these rooms.
A closed well oak staircase rises from the sitting room to the first floor and the first of three bedrooms; it also provides access to the large cellar below. The main bedroom is a mirror of the drawing room, with a wonderful quality of light care of the south-facing aspect and views over the gardens and thatched rooftops beyond. A dressing area with plentiful wardrobes leads to a spacious en suite bathroom. There are two further bedrooms and bathrooms on this floor, positioned within the 17th-century wing. Three bedrooms lie on the second floor at the apex of the house, with exposed beams set within the pitched roofs. The main space within the primary range is still to be developed on this level; it would accommodate a very generous bedroom suite, subject to planning consent. Additionally, a space exists between the two main bedrooms on this floor that would make an excellent Jack-and-Jill shower room.
An enchanting stone cottage is positioned opposite the main house. It has a comprehensive plan, with a central hallway and staircase, a generous kitchen, a utility room and a living room, as well as three double bedrooms, a family bathroom and its own private garden. Currently used for holiday lets and generating a handsome yield, the house could also be used for additional family accommodation or for staff. The Grade II-listed barn lies adjacent to the cottage; a cathedral-like space, it is double-height with conservation skylights set within the soaring pitched roof. It has a homely wood-burning stove and restored stone walls and floors – it would make an excellent office space or home studio. Expansive glass fenestration leads to the wild meadow bank.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens measure around one acre in total, with three defined principal areas. Extensive, immaculate lawns unite the different sections; all are well stocked with a rich variety of plants including mature wisteria and lavender, as well as peach and plum trees. The protected laurel hedge was planted in Tudor times as part of the abbey grounds; the only other listed laurel in England can be found at Blenheim Palace. Wroxton Abbey’s grounds surround Raydon Hill House’s entire gardens and ensure a wonderful level of total privacy.
Key features of the gardens include a marquee lawn, which is raised above a wild meadow bank. A lavender walk leads to a croquet lawn, surrounded by yew trees and with a convenient irrigation system. A pretty rose garden with seating has been particularly thoughtfully designed, and there is a wide grass path leading to the rear of the cottage, which is the original carriage driveway. There is also an orchard walk and a lovely play area for younger children. Views extend from the top of the gardens to the abbey’s grounds and a protected neighbouring paddock.
Out and About
Wroxton is one of the most unspoilt villages in the country and is thought to be the most thatched village in England. It was the original ‘chocolate box’ village, which featured in paintings on Cadbury’s chocolate boxes in the 1800s; it is still regularly photographed and filmed. Today, the village hosts an annual fete, a gin club, a cinema club and countless activities throughout the year. A particularly friendly and neighbourly village, it is centred around a village green and duck pond with swans, ducklings, and its famous thatched duck house.
The village is perfectly positioned for access to many other towns and amenities. Banbury is the nearest town, a short drive away, with a branch of Waitrose and many other provisors. Wroxton is also equidistant from Oxford and Royal Leamington Spa. Soho Farmhouse is a 20-minute drive away, as are popular Cotswolds villages such as Chipping Norton. Visitor attractions include many National Trust properties, most notably Upton House, Broughton Castle and Warwick Castle, in addition to countless scenic walks.
The selection of local schools, for both state and independent, is outstanding. Great Tew Primary is nearby and has been rated as one of the best state primary schools in the country. Nearby secondary schools include Bloxham, Tudor Hall, Kingham Hill and Rugby.
Transport connections are excellent. Banbury station is a 15-minute drive away, with trains to Marylebone station taking 55 minutes, while the M40 is a 10-minute drive from Wroxton for direct access to central London. Additionally, Birmingham International Airport is just 40 minutes drive, with direct routes to most European cities and holiday destinations.
Wroxton village was historically part of the grounds of Wroxton Abbey, an Augustinian priory later rebuilt as a fine country house by William Pope, the 1st Earl of Downe, in the early 17th century after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Pope also founded Trinity College Oxford; similarities in design architecturally link the two. The village is recorded as having a church since 1217. It is on an important and ancient ley line, which runs between the Rollright Stones in Long Compton and the village of Chipping Warden. All the local cottages are built from dark honey-coloured ironstone – many of them thatched and dating from the early 17th and 18th centuries – and set in a bucolic and gentle dip within the landscape.
Wroxton Abbey’s grounds surround Raydon Hill House’s entire gardens and ensure a wonderful level of total privacy. The abbey’s gardens were first established in 1727 and were partly converted to the serpentine style between 1731 and 1751. There is a serpentine lake, a cascade, a rill and a number of follies by Sanderson Miller: a Gothic dovecot, the Drayton Arth and the Temple-on-the-Mount. There is also a formal flower garden in the classic English style at the south side of the house; particularly enchanting in the early summer.
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