High street home steeped in 300 years of history
BUILT in 1690 and given a facelift one hundred years later, this former coach house is now Grade II listed. In the age before motor vehicles, coaches would have rolled under the arch and the vehicle and its horses accommodated at the rear.
These smaller outbuildings and stables have long since been converted to separate homes, and their owners – and the Stone House's residents – share the use of the lawned garden at the end of the mews, surrounded by hedges and with trees for shade.
These days, it's cars which pass under the arch, along the mews, to the parking area next to the garden. Tall, solid wooden gates can be closed beneath the arch, which is useful during the annual Mop Fair and other events which attract hundreds of visitors to the town.
This summer, despite the inclement weather, the neighbours got together to hold a Jubilee party, using the arch as a communal umbrella.
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It is this community spirit which the Stone House owners Sue and David Hannay will particularly miss. That and the fact that they can walk to a wide selection of shops, or pop out for a bite to eat.
David explained: "We love the High Street. We can just walk out to the shops, but we are not at the busy end of the street, with all the pubs and restaurants."
And although the main street is bustling, the Hannays can still find a peaceful spot to relax. Sue adds: "I often take a cup of coffee and the paper into the garden.
"Often I'm by myself, but sometimes I'll meet a neighbour. We are going to miss it here and the neighbours are great."
Having owned the house for 10 years, the Hannays have been permanently resident for just two, having returned from 25 years living in Sydney, and stints in the USA before that.
Evidence of their travels is everywhere – in the many pieces of art, ornaments and furniture, including the unusual Balinese dining table and chairs that Sue bought during a holiday. It's been around the world with them, but no one knows where it is going to end up since Sue and David cannot decide where to move to.
David said: "We have looked at houses from the south coast to Herefordshire and I think that we will end up somewhere around here." Sue added: "We are waiting for a purchaser to clarify our thoughts."
Over the past decade, the house was home to David's late mother, who was once visited by elderly siblings who had grown up in the house. Their father, a doctor, ran a practice from the building and was sometimes required to attend Queen Mary when she stayed at nearby Badminton House.
The Stone House's original front door was moved years ago from between the two bay windows at the front, to the side of the house. Without a hallway between them, the two reception rooms on the ground floor could be enlarged. Each is 18ft long and one has a stone fireplace.
Between these rooms and the kitchen at the rear is a wide hall with an old flagstone floor and a highly polished Georgian split staircase.
Beyond the kitchen, where there's space for a table and chairs, is the glass-roofed utility room, and at the back of the hall is a wet room. Off the first floor landing is a huge bathroom and three big double bedrooms, one over the arch with oak flooring and a period fireplace. The largest bedroom has a dressing room next door, or perhaps a nursery bedroom, since it can also be accessed also from the landing.
Two further double rooms, again with oak floors, and where the servants would once have lived, are on the top floor.
These interconnecting rooms are reached via a steep staircase hidden by a latch door, which children will love. The space would combine well as a large playing and sleeping space, with plenty of room for sleepovers.
And while some families might miss having a private garden, the walled communal lawn is easily big enough for ball games.
Whether the new owners have children or not, they will be able to visit a variety of grocery, clothes and gift shops, pubs and Thai, Italian and Chinese restaurants, all within a two-minute walk. How's that for convenience?