£3.5m country house where Churchill's Home Guard trained is up for sale
- Credit: Savills
A huge country estate, which was used as a training ground for the Home Guard during the Second World War, has come up for sale in South Walsham for £3.5m.
It is believed that a house has occupied the site for almost 800 years, although parts of the current property were built much later - likely during the Elizabethan period - before significant alterations were made in the late 1800s.
The property, which remains unlisted, played an important role during the Second World War when the house was used as a convalescence home and the 25-acre gardens as a training ground for the Home Guard, a citizen military unit created by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to protect the country from foreign invasion.
The Home Guard operated from 1940 until December 1944, with around 1.5 million people volunteering across the country.
As a training ground, it included the inner Broad, now part of Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, which was covered with barbed wire to prevent flying boat landings. Tanks were also hidden in the garden.
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In 1947, South Walsham Hall and the estate were acquired by Major Henry Broughton, who later became Lord Fairhaven. He created the water gardens, which were later given over to a trust and opened to the public in 1975, and carried out extensive improvement works on the property -including installing a staircase made from the timbers of HMS Britannia, the flagship of Admiral Russell who led the British fleet to victory at the Battle of La Hogue in 1692.
The current owners purchased South Walsham Hall in 2001 and immediately embarked on further renovation work. It has since been re-wired and had new plumbing and heating systems installed, as well as new bathrooms and a Bryan Turner custom-built kitchen. Plasterwork has also been re-moulded and installed by a local company, and oak taken from the estate to create a beautiful new library.
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Selling agents Savills say that the house boasts a number of fine rooms offering "grandeur but comfort", with many taking in wonderful views of the grounds.
Highlights include the drawing room with its large bay window, the dining room that opens out on to the parterre and a substantial orangery. There is also a billiard room, an impressive drawing room on the first floor and eight well-proportioned bedrooms.
The gardens and grounds are undoubtedly a huge feature of the property. They are approached by a main drive, lined by topiary, which property agent Ben Rivett describes as a "truly magical entrance", and which leads to banks of rhododendrons as well as sweeping lawns and the lake.
The formal gardens are mainly designed by Verity Hanson Smith and include a knot garden, as well as the beautiful parterre which can be accessed by the orangery, dining room and kitchen in the main house.
The property also has a hard tennis court, heated swimming pool and pool house, as well as a large courtyard. Its extensive outbuildings also include two cottages.
For more information, contact Savills.
The Street, South Walsham
Guide price: £3,500,000
Savills, 01603 229229, www.savills.com