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Dream Home or Fawlty Towers? Manor for Sale

April 15, 2010

If your dream home, like mine, lies on a sceptered isle, then join me for a little virtual property hunting. Since this is a dream home we’re talking about, let’s dream big, and start with £5,000,000 (about $7.7 milllion).

I found a place for us, in Surrey, an easy hop to London. It’s brick, “Dutch gabled” Brook Place, which draws its name from prior owners, the Atte Brokes. Nice family. They lived in the area in the 1200s.

Oliver Cromwell

But worry not that the manor house itself is “old” — it didn’t even show up in local property records until 1618, in Cromwell’s day. “Inside, the house retains a 17th-century charm, with low ceilings and impressive brick hearths in the main rooms on the ground and first floors,” writes the Times of London. Several rooms are fitted out with Dutch paneling. The overall architectural layout is said to mimic a Greek cross and conceal a supposed “priest’s hold” in the walls, hinting at Papist loyalties among its builders, the Times notes — pretty daring given the rigid Puritanism of General Ironsides, as Cromwell was known.

Today, the property encompasses 16 acres containing a lake and, in the lake, an island. Its lovely 17th-century timber-framed barn, complete with bar and minstrel’s gallery, makes an ideal setting for weddings:

The three-bedroom cottage will prove useful, as you’ll undoubtedly be entertaining lots of visitors from the States:

True, the place was last renovated in 1927, and you do have every right to tug discreetly at my sleeve when the estate agent employs phrases like “blank canvas” to describe its current condition. Yes, the property is (historically) listed with license for a “sympathetic” (read pricey) renovation. And let’s not even ask what condition the swimming pool is in!

But c’mon! Have you ever seen anything sweeter than this Granary?

It even has a folly (if a rather pathetic one):

Yeah, I know the estate agents say they can’t vouch for the heating system, and it seems more than a little suspicious that their site features no interior photos. True enough it’s been on the market since at least 2005 (when the asking price was actually lower!) But this blogger wasn’t born yesterday, baby! The whole spread can be ours for only four million pounds.

That leaves a full mil for the overhaul!

King Richard II

We have Shakespeare to thank, by the way, for the “sceptred isle” epithet. It comes from John of Gaunt’s dying words in Act ii, Scene 1, of King Richard II:

This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

You won’t soon find a real estate agent who can top that marketing copy!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 10:39 pm

    i love the lines at the bottom of your post. i used to have them on my wall at my office before i moved to the uk.

    hope you’re well!

    • April 15, 2010 10:43 pm

      That’s some classy office decor, Meg! Beats the hang-in-there kitty poster, any day.

      I’m great — working at National Children’s Museum for 6 more weeks and wish it would never end!

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