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Coldharbour

New Price: 849,950    SOLD

Coldharbour has two claims to faim - the first is its stunning location, perched near the summit of Leith Hill, the highest point in south-east England, and the second is its association with the late actor, Oliver Reed, who made Coldharbour his home for many years and whose alcohol-fuelled exploits in the neighbourhood are now part of local history.

The actor bought a huge period pile, Broome Hall, in the 1970s and proceeded to lavish money on its renovation, apparantly taking any film work offered in order to fund his project. Broome Hall is a Grade II listed stone mansion, dating originally from 1750 although most of the the building is late Victorian and displays the typical grandiose gothic-influenced style of that period. After Oliver Reed left Broome Hall, the property was bought by a developer and divided into individual wings, with some new apartments built in the grounds and estate buildings converted into further homes. Number 3 Broome Hall occupies a substantial rear wing of the main house and enjoys jaw-dropping views across Surrey and Sussex.

The entrance to the house is disappointingly tucked away at the side of the original mansion, positioned close to neighbouring homes and front doors. But sometimes it is immensely satisfying to hide a grand interior behind an unassuming entrance so that the visitor enters unprepared. Certainly once inside, the house expands to grand proportions, and the high ceilings, big windows, panelled doors, tall skirting boards and superb architectural flourishes create an historic and elegant setting.

The front door opens into a small outer hall with access to a generous cloakroom containing wc and sink. A set of double doors, partly glazed and arch-topped, leads the eye down the main hall which stretches for almost forty foot, like a backbone, through the house. The hall has a pale wooden floor with a decorative border and a dado rail. Another set of double doors, again partly glazed, opens into a large drawing room (23'10 by 13'9). This room has a huge window looking over the rear garden and distant view, plus a set of double doors leading into a glassed-in loggia. The windows in the drawing room have original folding shutters (as do other windows in the house) and there is a pale grey marble fireplace. Fitted shelves and a cupboard occupy a recess by the fireplace. A small, insignificant window at one end of the room looks onto a neighbouring property but could easily be obscured by curtains or a blind. The enclosed loggia (11'5 by 6'7) leading off the room has double glass doors out to the garden and a large gothic-style window. The floor is stone-flagged and the loggia has the ambiance of a Victorian conservatory, an ideal setting for wicker chairs and large potted palms.

Next to the drawing room is a very large dining room (19'6 by 13'11) which has two tall windows with views and the most amazing fireplace. The latter is huge with an overmantel, all in dark oak, but with beautiful painted tile insets in soft tones of blue, cream and gold depicting a fantastical array of characters, animals, ships etc like Victorian child's picture book. A similar fireplace, possibly the work of Walter Crane, was sold at auction for 8,000!

The dining room has doors to both the hall and the drawing room, as well as to the kitchen which again is a big room (19'5 by 13'11). The period elegance of the property has been maintained in the refurbishment of the kitchen with its cream cupboards, dark granite worktops and pale wood floor. A tall window gives a rare view across the front approach to the mansion - a gravelled drive above which towers a magnificent cedar of Lebanon. The kitchen has ample space for a large table and chairs at one end, with room to spare. In fact, the eating end of the kitchen boasts period oak panelling, highly carved and very decorative (all the kitchen units and equipment had to be placed away from this period feature). How many kitchens have period panelling like this - presumably this room once had a grander purpose? Also at this end of the kitchen are double doors leading to another glassed-in loggia, the twin of the one leading off the drawing room. To have one such garden room is wonderful, to have two is outrageously extravagant. Like its twin, this garden room has a stone-flagged floor and arch-topped windows and doors to the garden. Both garden rooms are connected by a paved terrace topped by a canopy which makes yet another wonderful outdoor "room".

Back in the hall, a flight of stairs leads down to the basement where there are an amazing five rooms all with excellent head-height and leading off a central hallway. These rooms range in size from 23'1 by 18'11 to 11'4 by 9'9 and are currently used as utility rooms and for storage. The basement has been tanked by the current owners, and though it has no natural light, it is a wonderful extra space that could be used in lots of different ways - a games room, gymnasium, hobby or dark room could easily be created. For a family with teenagers, the space would be ideal for music-making or a home cinema.

The stairs to the first floor are a simple straight flight- obviously the original main grand staircase occupies a different wing of the house. The landing is long, but irregularly shaped with a huge wide middle section, so big it accommodates a large sofa with ease. It also has a small angled bay window with original shutters and an amazing view. Let's examine this amazing view, which is also enjoyed from all the reception rooms and bedrooms. To begin with, the outlook is across a manicured lawn surrounded by wide, formal gravel paths that terminate in a stone balustrade topped by wide-bellied antique stone urns. Beyond the balustrade, the ground drops away to wide rolling green pastures and small copses, with a large lake visible in the middle distance. Further away, trees and fields all merge and are fudged into an ongoing and billowing sea of greenery, rolling into the far distance, until the outline of the South Downs meets the vast expanse of sky. It has been estimated that the view stretches for thirty-two miles. Such a panoramic view is a rarity. It requires the combination of a high vantage point and an unhindered, open vista across almost one hundred and eighty degrees. It is the reason for Broome Hall's existence.

The main bedroom is, not surprisingly, a huge room (22'2 by 13'11) with a big window and a wall of fitted wardrobes and drawers, plus another double fitted wardrobe. A door leads into a very generous en-suite bathroom, containing a large shower cubicle, bath, wc and twin sinks, accompanied by some fitted cupboards. There are two more bedrooms on this floor, both of good size (13'8 by 11'6 and 13'11 by 10'1). Both have windows with distant views, although only the larger has fitted wardrobes. Even the family bathroom in this house has a period elegance. It is entered through double doors ( who has double doors to a bathroom?) which have an arch-topped architrave. The bathroom is spaciously equipped with large shower cubicle, a free-standing bath on feet, wc and sink. The room has a tall window overlooking the front drive.

A further staircase leads up to the top floor where there are two more huge interconnecting rooms beneath beamed ceilings. The first room, which is open-plan with the staircase, is 31'5 by 20'9 maximum and has a brick fireplace at one end and two windows with views. A door leads into a small cloakroom containing wc and sink. This enormous top-floor room would obviously make a great games room (snooker anyone?) gymnasium or home cinema. A door leads into yet another large room (25'10 by 16'7) currently used as a home office but which could also be a bedroom (thereby providing four bedrooms plus games room on the two upper floor of the house). There is ample space to create an en-suite at one end of the room and luckily the required plumbing is located at this end of the property. This room also of course has a magnificent view.

This wing of Broome Hall rejoices in boasting a very special garden. Not only is there the formal section immediately to the rear of the house, with its rectangular lawn and wide gravel paths, but there is also a secret garden to one side, accessed by a courtly gravelled walk. The secret garden extends down a gradual slope and features a magnificent long brick pergola, covered with climbing roses, a round lily pond and, at the bottom, in a beautiful, leafy setting, the original oval swimming pool that was once Oliver Reed's but is now empty and derelict. Indeed, viewed in the depths of winter, the pool has an air of melancholic beauty, a sad and symbolic reminder of a life once lived to the full and now extinguished. For Broome Hall was the actor's expensive plaything and Reed's life there was full of drunken escapades, high spirits and largesse - the restoration work took much longer than it should because at lunchtimes he would encourage the workmen to down tools and join him for a drink - the rest can be imagined.

The private garden is full of wonderful mature trees and plants - a huge Japanese maple by the pool and a giant wisteria covering the canopied rear terrace. For while the "frontage" of this property may be disappointing, the rear facade delivers the necessary grandeur and panache. As the rear faces almost due south, the covered terrace must be ideal for shady summer sitting and is also very private, although parts of the garden are overlooked by neighbouring properties. There is side access to the rear garden via wide iron gates and a double garage in a block a short distance away. The approach to the house is by a long concrete drive shared by the other properties on the estate, including converted outbuildings and a small block of apartments which are close neighbours.

The setting for Broome Hall could hardly be more idyllic. It is surrounded by some of Surrey's most beautiful countryside, a landscape of rolling fields and magnificent trees, where pheasants patrol the winding country lanes and are more commonplace than people or cars. It is very much an away-from-it-all location and a car is needed for most journeys, but yet, because of the proximity of other properties, the house is not isolated and could be ideal for a someone looking for a home they can lock up and leave for long periods. The location also provides wonderful opportunities for walking, cycling and horse-riding.

The village of Coldharbour is just over a mile away but although it has a very popular pub, there are no shops. Dorking is the nearest town (approx ten minutes' drive) and has supermarkets, a wide variety of shops and restaurants and a leisure centre. Trains from Dorking take approx 50 minutes to Waterloo and Victoria. For frequent flyers, Gatwick is close and reached within thirty minutes.

 

Pluses - Grade II listed house with architectural features
Large reception rooms
Huge kitchen/breakfast room
Big main bedroom suite
Enormous adaptable top floor rooms - office, games room
Five large tanked basement rooms
Two period garden rooms
Professionally restored and attractively modernised
Stunning views from most rooms
Attractive, private garden with period features
Garden and house face almost due south
Mature wisteria, rose arbour and secret lily pond
Approach is through grand estate grounds and period buildings
Located in an area of great natural beauty
Lovely country walks
Famous former owner


Minuses - Only a wing of a property
Just two receptions on the ground floor
Entrance is through a shared courtyard
Disappointing frontage
Parts of the garden are overlooked
Car needed for access to shops, station etc



For further details contact estate agent:


Hamptons International 01306 885466

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