Set on the edge of Windsor Great Park, this exquisite Grade II-listed detached Georgian red brick house is the very last house on the much-coveted Bishopsgate Road. Internal accommodation extends to almost 3,500 sq ft across six bedrooms, while the wonderfully preserved and restored original interior features are complemented by sympathetic additions, including a Plain English Design kitchen and Aston Matthews bathrooms. Large mature gardens envelop the house, directly abutting Windsor Great Park, at the edge of the deer park – Royal Lodge is this home’s immediate neighbour. Access to central London is excellent, with trains from nearby Egham station taking 40 minutes, and Heathrow Airport is just 20 minutes’ drive away. Local day and boarding school options are exceptional, and opportunities for country pursuits, including polo, golf, horse riding and horse racing, are world-class.
Setting the Scene
The house is built from finely tuck-pointed red brick, laid in Flemish bond, with a restored hipped Welsh slate roof. The plan is rectangular, and box sash windows punctuate the three-bay-wide main elevation. The central doorway has a round-arched head, with a hooded canopy resting on flat pilasters. The six-panel entrance door has a radial fanlight above. What was once an eighteenth-century cottage is set at the western range, accommodating a spacious drawing room overlooking the garden – the principal bedroom is positioned above.
As part of the exhaustive renovations undertaken by the current owners, a two-storey addition was built at the rear of the house, creating additional service areas and a further bathroom above. Master craftsmen completed the restoration, and architect Brian Haward consulted on the programme of building works. All plumbing and electrical utilities were renewed, windows, shutters and plaster cornicing restored, and where necessary, replaced, and all original features were carefully preserved. Column radiators and brass dolly switches feature throughout. Additionally, a Banham security system was installed. The grounds were redesigned and landscaped with an eye to preserving the established and mature existing planting. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
White-painted electronically operated wooden gates open from Bishopsgate Road to the pea gravel carriage driveway. Mature holly bushes screen the house from the road, while a large and deep crescent-shaped flowerbed adorns the front of the parking area with shrubs, flowers and a lovely magnolia tree. A driveway leads past the side of the house to a detached garage at the rear. Carefully tended lilac wisteria envelops the entire south-facing façade, creating a riot of colour and fragrance in springtime.
The entrance porch opens to the private hallway, which has pitch pine floorboards. ‘Family Silver’ by Mulberry Imperial lines the walls above the above elegant wainscotting. The beautiful staircase lies directly ahead with a fine mahogany handrail. The ground floor rooms work on a circular plan and lead to one another effortlessly.
At the right of the hall is the library. Here, custom-built bookshelves in a classical design line the walls and a fire is set in the open hearth, with a wood-panelled surround to complement the joinery. The dining room is on the left of the hall, with a wonderful clear vista to the garden terrace beyond. This leads through narrow French windows to the drawing room, which opens onto the terrace. The dining room has contemporary wainscotting in a simple design and a working fire set in the open hearth. More wide-set French windows open to the next-door kitchen. The drawing room is a wonderfully light room, with windows at its south and west aspects, while French windows provide access to the garden terrace. The centrepiece of this expansive room is a 19th-century stone fireplace skillfully crafted in France to replicate an exquisite 18th-century design. An 18th-century English log basket is inset. The room is carpeted in beautiful deep pile cream wool.
The kitchen is off the dining room, with added access from the back hall. Limestone flags run underfoot, and more French windows open to the garden. Here, Plain English Design kitchen cabinetry painted in Paper and Paint Library‘s ‘Lead’ colour rest beneath black granite worktops. A central island unit on legs in the traditional country house style complements a five-door black enamel Aga stove, which has an antique wooden bacon rack above. Along one wall are further cupboards with hardy Iroko wood acting as a worksurface, and a bespoke slate butler sink is inset with a chrome cross-head mixer tap. The dishwasher is integrated, and an open shelf is set above for glassware and storage jars. A further fitted dresser is positioned to the rear of the room; built in a similar design by Guy Sturgess of Quantock Woodworks, it is home to an integrated fridge-freezer. There is also room for a kitchen table beside the window.
The service area comprises the back hall, a separate scullery with further plentiful Plain English Design cabinetry, a larder with slate shelves, a boot room with flower cupboard, a washroom and the boiler room. Reclaimed pamment tiles have been used underfoot and unify these most useable of spaces.
On the first floor are two bedrooms and a shower room, and the capacious principal bedroom suite, which encompasses the whole west range of this floor. A large dressing room has a wall of panelled fitted wardrobes and is papered in ‘Bowood’, a Colefax and Fowler design. It adjoins the en suite bathroom, which has a claw-foot roll-top bath positioned centrally and Aston Matthews chrome-plated brassware with a traditional shower attachment. A wall of shallow storage cupboards is set into the butt-and-bead panelling. Separate open shoe shelves have been ingeniously conceived and built by Plain English Design. The double sinks are set in a vanity unit upon legs, with wonderful views of the rear garden. Opening from the dressing room above the drawing room, the sleeping quarters are exceptionally spacious. Two west-facing windows and a south-facing window allow a gentle light into the room. The landing space on the first floor is very generous, with a window set at its end looking out to the entrance to the park. This area was once home to a bathroom and could be reconfigured as such again if required.
The second floor is home to three further bedrooms and an additional bathroom. The bedroom set in the rear has been configured as a study and library, with bespoke bookshelves and cupboards designed by Brian Haward. The ceiling height is excellent, and the joinery almost reaches the top, with wonderful classical architraves and butt-and-bead backings. Windows in both north and east aspects make it a lovely room to work in the mornings. The central landing with extensive partially boarded loft space above opens to a further bedroom, while the bathroom is positioned at the front of the plan. It employs more butt-and-bead panelling on walls, and chrome-plated brassware is also by Aston Matthews. The bath also has a shower attachment, and the oval ceramic pedestal sink is reclaimed from the old Savoy Hotel. The largest bedroom on this floor is a large bipartite room with wide set wedding doors allowing either part to be closed off for convenience, possibly for use as a dressing area or for an infant. Windows are set at both north and south aspects, flooding the room with light.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens at The Gate House envelop the house and feel immensely secluded. They have a private entrance gate to Windsor Great Park with the open deer park near the rear, seen clearly through estate fencing.
York stone terraces wrap around the northern and western elevations, facing the park. The French kitchen windows open to the primary terrace, which leads to a verdant lawn bound by willow fencing and mature trees and shrubs. A tall yew hedge separates this section of the garden from the western range of the grounds, which have for many years been held on a Crown License. Mature trees surround the spacious lawn, and the deer can be seen through the greenery.
To the west of the house is the secondary York stone terrace. Opening from the drawing room’s French windows, it is a wonderful place for drinks in warmer months. It overlooks a further immaculate lawn bound by deep flower beds. A stunning iron serpentine pergola wreathed in pale lilac wisteria leads through a pebble-laid path to the private entrance gate to the parkland beyond. As part of the current Crown License condition, the King commands the tenant to ‘tend and cherish’ the wisteria. It is believed Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, often stopped to check up on the flowering and general health of the plant on her way home to Royal Lodge, directly passing The Gate House.
Additionally to the beautiful gardens, there is a detached garage with a slate tiled pitch roof at the end of the driveway, with a spiral wine cellar underneath offering a 1,800-bottle capacity. Electricity and plumbing have also been installed for convenience, and entry is both directly through the garage’s wooden double doors from the driveway and a side entry door from the rear garden terrace. A potting shed with a glass pitch roof is to the side of the garage, facing the garden.
Out and About
The Gate House is brilliantly positioned, close to Englefield Green and Virginia Water to the south and Windsor to the north for more extensive amenities. All three have excellent national and independent provisors, while the university town of Egham has further comprehensive shops, cafes and restaurants, including a large branch of Waitrose.
Excellent restaurants and quality public houses are plentiful locally, and include noted establishments Coworth Park, The Wentworth Club, The Waterside Inn and Fat Duck in Bray, The Latymer Restaurant at Pennyhill Park, Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers in Marlow and more locally on Bishopsgate Road itself, The Fox and Hound.
While the 5,000-acre Windsor Great Park is excellently positioned for horse riding, walking and other country pursuits, the surrounding area has further opportunity for sports, either participatory or merely spectator. Racing can be found at Ascot, Windsor, Epsom, Kempton and Sandown Park Park, while polo clubs include the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park itself, The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club is in Winkfield and Cowdray Park slightly further afield. Golf aficionados are also well catered for with some of the best courses in the country, including at Wentworth, Sunningdale, Swinley Forest, Queenwood and Foxhills.
Excellent local schools include the brilliantly local Bishopsgate School, St John’s Beaumont, Eton College, St George’s School in Windsor, St Mary’s Ascot, Lambrook, Papplewick, Heathfield, The ACS and TASIS International Schools, Harrow School, Wellington College, Strode College and Wycombe Abbey for Girls. Royal Holloway University of London, housed in a magnificent building modelled on the French Chateau de Chambord, is also nearby.
The Gate House is just 10 minutes’ drive from Egham train station, with direct services to London Waterloo taking just 40 minutes. Heathrow Airport is 20 minutes’ drive away, and Farnborough Airport for private flights is just 30 minutes’ drive. Central London can also be reached by car quickly and is just 40 minutes’ drive away, while junctions five and six of the M4, for access to the West Country and Central London, are each fifteen minutes away.
Council Tax Band: H
The Gate House has a fascinating history, beginning before its current incarnation as a handsome red brick Georgian home. Originally 18th-century cottages and two storeys high, in the very early 19th century, it is understood the now-house was cubed out, a tuck-pointed façade added, and a second storey built on top. Interior modifications were made to reflect the elegant neoclassical architecture of the time.
The house was believed to be called Garden Cottage originally and part of the Bishopsgate curtilage. The house was later separately conveyed in 1937 subsequently renamed The Gate House. Artistic representations of The Gate House and the surrounding area include a bodycolour drawing held in the Royal Collection, painted in 1801 by Paul Sandby, that illustrates the entrance to the park and The Gate House in its prior incarnation as a cottage. Sandby had links to the house and area, as his brother was Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park.