Georgian charm with wow factor

Adding a new extension onto a beautiful Georgian village house has the potential to be a disaster but the owners of Middleton House in Syderstone completed theirs with such attention to historic detail that it has turned out to be a triumph.

Adding a new extension onto a beautiful Georgian village house has the potential to be a disaster but the owners of Middleton House in Syderstone completed theirs with such attention to historic detail that it has turned out to be a triumph. Kathryn Cross visited the immaculately restored family home which is on the market with Sowerbys for £760,000.

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When James and Lucy Basset bought Middleton House 10 years ago it was a shadow of the home that now stands proud in the middle of this unspoilt village.

Belonging then to an old carpenter Fred Harper the Grade II listed house was sorely in need of some TLC with no heating, dry-lined walls throughout and leaking roofs.

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But then James and Lucy were a young couple with bags of energy and a love of antiques and decided that taking on such a big project was something they would put their hearts and souls into. So, although progress was sometimes painstakingly slow, as layers of neglect had to be removed to reveal the very shell of the house, the result is a testament to their dedication.

From the moment you enter through the front door with its fanlight window the house oozes charm and character.

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You get used to ducking through doorways which, although wider than you would get in a modern house, are a good few inches shorter. But then once you are in the main reception rooms the ceiling heights are ample and typically Georgian with large sash windows letting in swathes of light.

Downstairs the dining room and sitting room are of similar size and accessed to the right and left of the front door and staircase with a further linking corridor at the back of the stairs creating a lovely flow. Original fireplaces have been found in nearly all the rooms but the most spectacular has to be one in the sitting room which was actually a former Victorian bread oven and was discovered by peeling away no less than three other fireplaces that had been gradually added in front over the years.

But pass through the sitting room and you get a real “wow factor” in the new extension which houses a fantastic kitchen/breakfast room. Designed by Brian Turner the hand-crafted units are topped by beech work surfaces and centre stage is the stunning red four-oven Aga which the couple acquired second-hand from a windmill in Weybourne. To this day James is bemused as to how it had fitted in a perfectly circular room.

The long table central to the room also provides a useful running circuit for children, so he says, and with four-year-old twins and a two-year-old the house definitely has put the needs of the family in mind.

In fact the extension has also provided much needed extra bedrooms for their growing family with a double aspect family bathroom with stunning views over the surrounding countryside and is accessed via a second staircase out of the kitchen.

And their attention to detail is evident from the outside because every brick used to build the extension had to be cut to size to blend in with the existing brickwork, a job that took one man five weeks to complete.

Three further bedrooms complete the home upstairs, each with south-facing sash windows and a bathroom, believed to be formerly the bedroom of Mr Harper's sister-in-law, looks over the rear of the property. One can only imagine how cold this north-facing room must have been before the Bassets took it in hand.

Outside space is ample for the most energetic of children with the kitchen leading out onto a west-facing flagstone terrace with steps leading up to the main garden which is primarily laid to lawn but is enclosed by mature hedging and established trees giving a very secluded feel.

The house is also set back from the road and fronted by a formal lawn with access by a pretty latched gate and gravel path to the front door which gives visitors the chance to admire the stature of the house immediately.

To the right of the house are three attached cottages which are now in separate ownership but were once part of Middleton House and you can see inside where landings would have been and doorways to link through to these properties when it was built, back in the mid-18th century.

According to the deeds the house formerly belonged to the Marquis of Cholmondeley and was sold for the princely sum of £4765 in 1904. It has appreciated a little since then - now on the market for £760,000 - but whoever buys it will not only get a piece of history but a practical family home.

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