Victorian house on a hill bordering National Trust land

ASHDOWN HOUSE – a five-bedroom property which is on the market with Warminghams – is a great example of how to build a house on a hill.

It is located in the pretty riverside village of Streatley, with views over the River Thames and the Goring Gap to Ipsden on the other side of the valley.

The garden is organized in sections that rise up the hillside, and there is a wonderful sense of height, light and space all around.

The top of the property borders the National Trust land of Lough Down, on the edge of the Berkshire Downs, where you can wander through miles and miles of fields, woodland and gentle hills dotted with summer wildflowers.

Jeremy and Emma Oakley have lived at Ashdown House since 2015, and it has been a wonderful place for them to welcome and entertain their children and grandchildren over the years.

It was built in 1901, originally as two small chalets which were later joined together, and it was extended about 30 years ago.

The couple completely renovated the place shortly after moving in, installing a new kitchen, new bathrooms and new flooring, upgrading the electrics and central heating system and redecorating the whole thing.

They have taken care to preserve some of the charming elements of the time. “It really is a Victorian house with high ceilings and thick walls,” Mr Oakley said. “There is a black and white checkerboard tile floor in the upper veranda which is original.

“And in the main entrance hall is an original Victorian window, which has many small square panes, and in the middle of this is a glazed cross. It was originally, I think, part of the estate of a local religious order, like many houses here.

The front porch door is also at least 100 years old — it was renovated by a glazing specialist when the Oakleys moved in — and they gave the original sash windows the same care and attention.

Downstairs there is a large traditional living room with a curved bay window, French doors and fireplace, and there is also a separate family room.

The stylish kitchen leads to a dining room/conservatory with two sets of doors which open onto the garden. There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms on the first floor, and two further bedrooms upstairs on the second floor.

One of the most unusual and eye-catching features of this home is the spiral staircase that leads to the upper veranda, with its black and white tiled floor.

This bedroom is technically on the first floor but, as the house was built on a hill, you can walk around the beautifully landscaped garden from here.

Since moving in, Mr and Mrs Oakley have filled the garden with their favorite plants and trees, although the basic structure of the levels rising up the hillside was already in place when they moved in.

Ms Oakley said: ‘When we got here, even though the garden was already landscaped, it was full of ground elderberry, so we completely removed everything.

“When you go up through the upper veranda, you look at the edges of the garden.

“If you were in a very large Edwardian house, that’s how it would have been laid out – you would have had gravel terraces and then you’d walk there looking at what you’ve built underneath. So it was a very easy garden to design.

The garden has two level lawns and a gently sloping third, two sets of stone steps and a terrace, numerous well-stocked borders, mature hedges and sycamores. There is also a flat area at the very top, which was once a tennis court, where you can play cricket or football without worrying about the ball rolling down the slope.

The entire property is fenced to make it rabbit proof. There is a detached garage by the gravelled driveway and parking lot, four outside taps for easy watering, outside lighting and a summer house.

Mr and Mrs Oakley are now retired and their children and grandchildren have all grown up, so they hope to move to a smaller house on flatter ground in the middle of the village.

Mr Oakley said: ‘We both play golf and are a five minute walk from Goring and Streatley Golf Club – so it will be hard to walk away – but the house is tailor-made for a family. When we had the grandkids here they had so much fun, it’s a great garden to play in. Ashdown House is on the market with Warmingham at an indicative price of £2,350,000. For more information or to arrange a viewing call (01491) 874144.


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Raymond I. Langston