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7 bedroom country house for sale

Westenhanger, Kent

Guide Price £2,600,000

Property Description

Key features

  • 6 Reception Rooms
  • 7 Bedrooms
  • 4 Bathrooms
  • Grade I Castle & Manor House in c.14 acres

Full description

One of Kent's greatest historic houses, Listed Grade I under Restoration & Consolidation with Towers, Castle wall remains and landscaped inner court providing a gentleman's residence and a marvellous wedding venue.
For sale by separate negotiation are two remarkable 16th Century Grade I Listed barns - one now restored having a magnificent hammer beam roof structure, the other ready for conservation.

A parkland setting with mature trees, a stream and meadow, in all about 14 acres.

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Lot 1 - The Manor House
- Entrance hall, 2 reception rooms, galleried landing with lounge area, a principal bedroom and further bedroom providing bathroom and dressing room
- Second floor 1 bedroom apartment with bathroom, living room and kitchen
- Central living accommodation incomplete (potentially over three floors) with adjoining dovecote tower and medieval kitchen replica under construction.

Wedding Venue
- Outbuilding with catering kitchen, bar and toilets joining to large marquee with exit to inner court, towers and curtain wall
- Plenty of parking
- Grounds with remains of moated surrounds having external lighting, surround sound and water supply.

Lot 2 - Westenhanger Barns
- Stable Barn, built for accommodation c1525 awaiting conservation joined onto the Smythe Barn c1580 had restoration completed 2009
- A large walled area to the east of the barn once the site of a Saxon church is waiting for a landscaped garden.

Lot 3 " Workshop and plant storage area
- Currently used by the owners

Introduction & History
Westenhanger Castle is a Grade I Listed building set within an area of Scheduled Ancient Monument that has only recently been recognised as one of Kents forgotten great historic houses. Now it has had sixteen years of dedicated improvement and research into its past and royal connections it is ready for a new future.

The earliest documented occupation here dates from the year 1035 when King Canute (Cnut) conveyed his property by a charter to Archbishop Eadsin of Canterbury in the hope that he could be sure of an easy passage to heaven. The Charter document on display in the British Library is known as the Stowe Charter number 41.

After the Norman Conquest a succession of Knights occupied the twin manors of Le Hangre later known as Ostenhanger & Westenhanger, (the, de Aubervilles, the, de Kiriols, the Fogges and the Poynings). The castle was granted a license to Crenellate or fortify by Edward III in 1343 and then the curtain wall was raised to connect with the earlier stone built round tower and gatehouse.

In 1540 the property was escheated to The Crown by Henry VIII who made improvements which are recorded in The Kings Works. It remained one of many Royal Palaces until 1581 when Queen Elizabeth I gave it into the hands of her Collector of Customs, Thomas Smythe. Thomas and his wife Alice, who had lived at the castle from the time of their marriage in 1552, raised a large family of thirteen children who all benefitted from their parents considerable wealth. "Customer" Smythe as he was known became rich from his duties and many wise investments. He died 1591 owning twelve manors including Leeds Castle.

From 1996 the current owners, the Forge family, have set about saving this most significant and important ancient monument for the future and have carried out sensitive and thorough restoration work helped by English Heritage to provide the delightful and fascinating environment that now exists. Some work remains to be done to complete the manor house and restore the (second) stable barn.

Westenhanger Manor House
Approached by a long drive to the north of the racecourse the entrance into the property is through a gateway within the curtain wall opening to a large gravel reception area in front of the house. As mentioned, the existing manor house was partly rebuilt in 1701 and reduced to the remains of a 16th Century cross wing of the main hall. The front elevation has lovely mellow brickwork with entrance portico beneath a tiled roof. This section of the house is restored providing an outstanding venue for wedding ceremonies. The main reception room has a particularly fine inglenook fireplace and splendid oak beams with a second reception room having a brick fireplace and flagstone floor with under floor heating. The bridal suite comprises the exquisite bedroom with an exceptionally fine stone mullioned leaded light window (dressed stone from Caen in France) believed to date from around 1500 with ancient "graffiti" to the inner left side jamb of the window said to depict James II. There is a delightful inglenook with 15th Century moulded beam and dressing area. The second bedroom is used as a luxurious bathroom and dressing room and the galleried landing provides another elegant reception area with attractive moulded ceiling and wide window seats. On the second floor is a self contained apartment with reception room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.

The grounds are based around the original moated courtyard ground plan of curtain walls, towers and drawbridge with 17th Century plans demonstrating what a huge and important building it once was.
There is further land away to the north up to the east Stour stream attractively laid out to grassland and trees. Much of the curtain walls have been stabilised including towers, especially the delightful Rosamund's tower in the centre of the north wall adding to the peaceful ambience within the landscaped gardens of the inner court including the thatched gazebo.
Set at right angles is the Smythe barn - a magnificent barn of great quality with an exquisite hammerbeam roof usually reserved for buildings of high status. The barn, of internal measurements approximately 107' x 25', was added by Thomas 'Customer' Smythe in 1580 at the time he lived with his family at the castle. He was appointed Collector of Customs during the reign of Queen Mary I until 1581. The property had been escheated to the Crown in 1540 when Henry VIII claimed it for his daughter Mary as an added Palace for the Crown. The rag stone walls incorporate four splendid wagon porch doors beneath a Kent peg tile roof over the magnificent hammerbeam roof structure.

The Barns
Also available are the two Westenhanger barns, also within the scheduled monument - both of immense architectural and historic importance and both Listed Grade I. The earlier, constructed to the west is the stable barn dating from circa 1525. It is believed that the ragstone used to build this barn was salvaged from the Saxon Church of St John which was de-consicrated circa 1440. Certainly the carved arches and canopies appear to be of that era. The original purpose was to accommodate the various trades people employed by the Lord of the Manor. The overall internal measurements are about 128' x 18' and the barn requires restoration with scaffolding currently in place.

The conservation team led by John Forge won the Angels Award for 2011 donated by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and English Heritage for the finest craftmanship in saving the 'at risk' Smythe barn.

Further land extends away beyond the barns and east Stour stream to the north up to the railway line. The east Stour stream flows under the northern end of the Smythe barn and close by are the remains of an historic old water ram which originally provided the water supply to the castle.

Wedding ceremonies are conducted in either the gazebo or within the main reception room of the house and combine with the setting to provide an outstanding wedding venue. The outbuilding in the south west corner provides the beautifully equipped catering kitchen, characterful bar and toilet facilities and adjoins the extensive marquee arrangement with the reception area and the main dining and dance area.

Reconstruction and restoration at the rear is incomplete but well advanced. Immediately behind the main front section is an existing old structure which will be a further three storey accommodation where substantial second floor beams are in place beneath the tiled roof. The thick walls of brick and stone have leaded light windows and the remains of an ancient W.C. known as "garderobe chute".

The dovecote tower in the north east corner, in itself of fascinating architectural merit and history which has an exquisitely restored roof and originates from a defensive tower later adapted to accommodate doves with approximately 420 nesting boxes. The first floor and the old oven have still to be restored. Adjoining is the medieval kitchen, a masterpiece of reconstruction, well progressed of brick, with dressed stone and oak framework incorporating massive chimneys. The roof is currently being lined but is not yet tiled.

Agent's Notes
The Castle and medieval barns may be sold separately, then the vendor reserves the right to retain the in-situ scaffolding, the workshop with a small area around it and plant storage area together with a right of access.
We understand the Barns and any area of land surrounding the barns may be subject to VAT which would be added to the selling price at the current rate.

The land parallel to the railway on the north boundary has been granted Planning Consent for an earth bund to be erected which could afford protection in the future.

The vendor reserves the right to honour forward wedding bookings.
The historical information has been researched and provided by the Forge family.

Property Information

Postcode: CT21 4HX

Services: Mains water, electricity (3 phase) and drainage. LPG Storage Tank.

Fixtures & Fittings are excluded from the sale but various items are available by separate negotiation.

Local Authority: Shepway District Council - 01303 853000
Council Tax, Rates & VAT - To be Confirmed

Viewing Arrangements: Strictly through Jackson-Stops & Staff Tel: 01227 781600

Travelling from London towards Folkestone leave the M20 east of Ashford at Junction 11. Take the third exit and follow the route signed Hythe taking the first exit on the next roundabout. Proceed for about 0.5 of a mile turning right at the sign to Folkestone Racecourse and when you reach the racecourse you will see the sign to Westenhanger Castle 50 yards past the racecourse entrance. Follow this drive around to the left which leads up to the castle entrance.

More information from this agent

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Listing History

Added on Rightmove:
08 November 2012

Map & Street View

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