Marianne Swinkels discovers a right royal treasure in the shadow of the Blaise Castle Estate
It’s fair to say I was left in a bit of a ‘two and eight’ (aka a right old state) when the call came in. An invitation to view the right royal Highgrove House no less! Moi? Given I’m more of a serf than a seasoned socialite and cannot distinguish a cucumber from a courgette (answers please anyone?) why would Charles and Camilla want me to take the tour of their splendidly palatial pad and organically gorgeous gardens.
Personal panic soon somersaulted into flattery. And flipped into fantasy: ‘Bristol Magazine honoured by HRH after global search for property writer’. And then anxiety. Can one wear jeggings? How does one address the two Cs? Must one refuse or graciously accept elevenses or other proffered refreshment?
But then I clocked the postcode. A leafy location in evocatively named Coombe Dingle, reassuringly Wikipedia listed as ‘’a desirable area to live”. So there you have it. I dropped the ‘igh’ and put in a ‘y’ and happily hot-footed it to Hygrove House in a well regarded street adjoining the 650 acre parkland of the Blaise Castle Estate. Now this I thought, as I meandered en route down the nearby wooded limestone gorge accessed by walkways and bridle paths, a verdant semi-rural setting within easy reach of Westbury-on-Trym and little more than a trio of miles from Bristol centre, really was my cup of tea. You can even stroll your way to Clifton from here. Sublime. And Charles and Camilla will simply have to wait….
This Hygrove would have greatly pleased a real, if short-reigned, monarch. Built in 1906, right in the middle of King Edward VII’s time on the throne, it is a splendid example of Edwardian architecture. The housing boom at that time, sparked by a rise in the new middle classes, led to a demand for airy, large homes on generous plots on the outskirts of towns and cities. Gone was the need for servant quarters and the ornate and fussy details so loved in the Victorian era. Long hallways, wide staircases and larger, lighter, well-proportioned and simpler designed rooms were the order of the day. New found affluence allowed for elaborate external decoration: multi-paned sashes and casements with stained leaded glass, carved woodwork, balconies, verandas and porches, large panelled painted doors, sweeping gables.
These were – and still are – generous, confident homes which well reflected that untroubled slice of time between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the outbreak of the First World War. Many would say that this was the era that produced Britain’s highest quality homes. A time when domestic architecture was arguably at its very best and which, more than a century on, remain desirably hot on the property market.
Hygrove can easily boast these handsome Edwardian credentials. And offer a whole lot more besides. History hasn’t messed about with this multi-receptioned, five bedroomed home and over the years previous owners have extended and altered the house with great sympatico and sensitivity. It’s what ticked all the boxes for the current vendors who moved here six years ago, ending a long search for their perfect property. They were smitten by the space, light and flow of the place and its landscaped gardens, its wrap around flagstone terrace and wisteria clad balcony accessed from the master bedroom. Hot tub, veg patch, BBQ patio, large summer house, dovecote, boules area, ample driveway parking and double garage behind electrically operated hardwood entrance gates… Need I say more about a Hygrove which lends itself to large scale entertaining, and peace and tranquillity in equal measure?
Oh yes I must. From the second you enter, the residence oozes culture, character and charm. Acquired from the couple’s extensive travels, the home provides a showcase for numerous objects d’art, artefacts, trinkets and instruments gathered from all over the globe. It is this rich and eclectic collection of craft from Columbia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nepal et al., which lifts the period property, already boasting a wealth of original features, right onto the next level. A superb mix of features, funk and functionality. What a winning combination.
And nowhere is this better evidenced than the capacious, colonial style conservatory, cum orangery, cum all in one dining/ sitting/gym/entertaining room – a vast 1,000 sq ft of spread of glazed, open plan year-round leisure and living space which connects to the adjoining and amply AGA’d terracotta tiled kitchen/living room like a dream. Talking of which, I’m off to kiss a few toads so that I might live happily ever after at Hygrove with my own charming, and highly obedient, prince.
JULY PROPERTY PROFILE Where: Hygrove House, Grove Road, Coombe Dingle, Bristol, BS10 7RH
What: Detached 5 bed Edwardian family house in private third of an acre gardens neighbouring Blaise Castle estate. Orangery/conservatory circa 1,000 sq ft. Double garage, summer house.
Guide price: £1,595,000
Agent: Hydes of Bristol (Clifton Office), www.hydes.co.uk Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 0117 973 1516