This handsome Grade II-listed former schoolhouse has been carefully converted by the current owners, creating a wonderfully characterful home. Positioned in the middle of the pretty village of Lower North Wraxall, Wiltshire, which in turn sits in the Cotswold AONB, the house has bucolic views over nearby rolling hills and woodland. Unfolding over 1,500 sq ft, including a lofty living space which was once the schoolroom, the house is completed by a garden with a refined planting scheme, bound by Cotswold stone walls.
Setting the Scene
The original late Georgian building was constructed in 1832 as a school for local children using squared rubble stone with slate roofs and coped gables. The first design included one schoolroom and a schoolhouse for the teacher at the southern end. The original schoolroom still has its bell turret on its northern gable, and the whole building is punctuated with the original stone-mullioned windows crowned by hood moulds.
The current owners have recently restored the house, bringing the schoolroom back to its former glory, removing a false ceiling and revealing its soaring ceilings and wooden beams. The Cotswold stone has been lovingly repaired and repointed. Elsewhere they have revealed expanses of stonework throughout the house, sensitively updated the kitchen and bathrooms using carefully chosen materials and landscaped the garden. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is set back slightly from the road behind wrought-iron railings. A front door, which would have opened into the original schoolhouse, now opens into a dining room, complete with smart, panelled walls and a wood-burning stove. Behind part of the panelling is a cleverly concealed and spacious under-stair cupboard, currently used for storing bicycles. Between the dining room and a utility room – complete with additional worktop space and a hidden sink – there is room to hang coats and kick off boots. A guest WC and shower room sit adjacent.
The kitchen lies in what would have been a later lean-to addition to the house. Comprising white cabinetry and wooden worktops, it has a door which leads to the garden, set among clerestory Critall windows that frame views over surrounding countryside. It is also complete with a large ceramic butler sink. Hardwearing travertine tiles line the floor.
Steps lead to a corridor, where a row of hooks that children would have used to hang their coats before the school day are still found. A door leads to the voluminous sitting room, where three large windows bathe the room in light throughout the day. An expanse of bookshelves line one wall, whilst a second wood-burning stove warms the space in the winter months.
The original schoolhouse is now home to three bedrooms, all of which have pretty views over the village, gardens and countryside, as well as their original floorboards. Two bedrooms still have their original stone fireplace surrounds too. The family bathroom has been fitted with a luxurious freestanding bath, whilst marble tiles line the walls.
The Great Outdoors
The owners wanted to create a pretty and usable garden, with space for outdoor dining and a perch from which to sit and drink coffee whilst looking over the village, with its romantic views. They installed walls in local Cotswold stone, with steps which lead up to a raised area—the perfect spot to add a bench. South-facing, the garden is a real suntrap.
On the northern end of the house – formerly where the second school room stood – is a parking area, with space for two to three cars. There is also a passageway which leads behind the house, to an outbuilding which is currently being used as a workshop.
Out and About
North Wraxall Parish consists of a community of five villages and hamlets in north-west Wiltshire, including Ford, Mountain Bower, North Wraxall, The Shoe and Upper Wraxall. The local community is very active, with a village website which lists all the local events and clubs hosted in the community hall. There is an Ofsted-rated “Good” pre-school, and the house sits in the catchment area for a good selection of both private and state primary and secondary schools.
The Old School House is perfectly positioned for easy access to the surrounding Wiltshire and Somerset countryside. The beautiful Cotswold village of Castle Combe is only five minutes away, recently voted the prettiest place in Great Britain. Lucknam Park is also five minutes away with stables, hotel, spa and a Michelin Star restaurant.
Dyrham Park is on the house’s doorstep, and The Peto Gardens at Iford Manor, Lacock Abbey, The Tithe Barn and the Saxon Church at Bradford-on-Avon are also easily accessible. Bath is a 15-minute journey by car and the popular Cotswold towns and villages of Tetbury and Malmesbury are a 30-minute drive away. There is a good selection of supermarkets, farm shops, cafés and restaurants all within a 20-minute drive.
Chippenham Station is around 10 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: E
In 1832, permission was given by the Lord Manor, for the school and house to be erected on what was some waste ground in the village. ‘The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church’ contributed a total of £35 towards the school. Its main cost though was financed by the area’s clergyman, who also became responsible for its upkeep.
Before North Wraxall School had been built, there is evidence from a parliamentary investigation, dating back to 1818, which describes that the education of the village’s children was adopted by Michael Wayatt, the Rector. Since he presumed that the parents would not be willing to sacrifice their earnings for the expense, he funded a Sunday school for around fifty children himself. The report stated that “(the) parish being agricultural, and the children employed as soon as they can walk.”
The original school would likely have catered for around 30 children; desks would have been placed along the wall, where the children were taught reading and sewing by a mistress, and writing and swimming by the parish organist. In 1869, the schoolroom was raised and a wooden floor was installed, with an additional schoolroom built at the same time. In 1879 a third extension was added, raising the schoolhouse by a storey.
The Broad Head mark carved on the end of the school building has historically been used as a reference point for surveying and cartography.
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