House Hunting | February

Last months house hunting article proved pretty popular, so I thought I would share a few of my favourites from this months browsing. Compared to last months huge period properties, in need of lots of work, I have tried to add a bit more variety and I would love to know what you think of this months offerings.

01. Market Place, Charing, Ashford, Kent

First up is this gorgeous, character packed 3 bed cottage in the Kentish village of Charing, which is absolutely packed with period features, which isn’t surprising considering it forms part of the ancient Archbishop’s Palace at Charing; a Scheduled National Monument. Dating back to the 13th century, the Grade I listed property it has recently been restored by The Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust to form what the agents term a ‘deceptively spacious three bedroom house’. As well as three bedrooms the cottage has three reception rooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen/breakfast room and a separate studio in the garden.

Market Place, Charing, Ashford, Kent (Image courtesy of The Spitalfields Trust)

Market Place, Charing, Ashford, Kent (Image courtesy of The Spitalfields Trust)

Unlike the properties I tend to go for this doesn’t need any work, so you could just move in and enjoy life in a piece of British History. However if it didn’t suit your needs you woudl have to bear in mind that any works would be tightly controlled due to its Grade I listing, so this probably isn’t the property for a DIY enthusiast.

The restoration of the cottage forms the first stage in The Spitalfields Trust’s plan to restore the whole palace, after it stood empty for many years. More information, including lots of lovely photos covering the history and restoration of the building are available on The Spitalfields Trust’s website, as well as information on the work they do restoring historical, buildings at risk which would cause most people to run a mile. The trust is a small organisation which is run as a charity and it is so refreshing to see development aimed at preserving and restoring rather than profit. However this quality or workmanship doesn’t come cheap and the cottage is currently listed with Jackson-Stops and Staff for £700,000, however you would get to say you live in a palace… sort of!

02. The Old Forge, Church Lane, Kingston, Kent

So in terms of levels of work required this one is right at the opposite end of the spectrum and requires pretty much everything doing to it… right up my street!

Located in the small village of Kingston, near Canterbury the house has 5 bedrooms on the first floor and a warren of reception rooms and cooking spaces on the ground floor as well as a small flint outbuilding and a larger old forge (from which the house gets its name) in the grounds.

The Old Forge in the garden of the aptly named cottage in Kingston, Canterbury

The Old Forge in the garden of the aptly named cottage in Kingston, Canterbury

There aren’t any pictures of the front of the house, so I had a little look on google street view and was pleasantly surprised (you can check it out here). Unlike the back it is all brick and has two lovely bay windows flanking a cute little porch and the original sash windows, and although these would probably need extensive repair or replacement, it is nice that the openings have remained unaltered. My google exploration also turned up a plot of empty land next to the property, and after a little digging I discovered that the plot was also for sale with planning permission for a 3 bedroom house. So while this isn’t ideal, as you would need to put up with building work next door for quite a while, it could mean there was a bit of a deal to be had and could prove a useful way to source local contractors to help with the renovation of the cottage!

As far as I can work out the cottage isn’t listed – probably as a result of the 1960’s rear extension, so opening up the downstairs to form a modern living space, adding big doors to the garden, tweaking the upstairs layout and adding an en-suite to the master bedroom would be feasible. However it is in a conservation area, so any external works, particularly those that could be seen from the street would need to be carefully considered. Unfortunately there are no pictures of upstairs, but the few pictures there are of downstairs show lots of period features, including original fireplaces, panelled doors and cupboards and some lovely beams, but it is most definitely a project… a very big project.

However if it takes your fancy it is up for sale with Jackson-Stops and Staff for £450,000 and if you have any spare change the building plot next door is also listed (here) with Jackson-Stops and Staff.

03. Poplar Walk, SE24, London

The final property is a bit closer to home (I actually took a walk past it at the weekend to be nosey) and located in the ever popular Herne Hill, which has lots of independent shops and a great Sunday market ! So whilst most will balk at the price of this two bed maisonette, it is actually pretty good value for a two bedroom property in the area.

Whilst it doesn’t have the kerb appeal of a period conversion, it does have lots of space with two double bedrooms, a separate kitchen with space for a table, built-in storage, including a ground floor cupboard (great for a bike), big windows, so lots of natural light and a south-west facing balcony – perfect for a glass of wine after work.

The lovely south-west facing balcony (Image courtesy of Beresford Residential)

The lovely south-west facing balcony (Image courtesy of Beresford Residential)

In terms of the level of work required, I would say this falls at the lower end – whilst it does have brown carpet and the kitchen is dated, it looks to be in good overall condition, with central heating, a plumbed in bathroom and no obvious signs of damp and no major changes required to the layout, so you could work through it room by room. Also as it was constructed in the 50s/60s it is likely to be constructed with cavity walls, or at least a double skin, so warmer than a Victorian conversion.

I haven’t been able to ascertain how long the lease is, so that may be the catch and would definitely be worth looking into, however if that doesn’t phase you the maisonette is currently on the market with Beresford Residential for £400,000 – yep, that is what good ‘value’ looks like in London!

What do you think of this months picks? I think the second one is my favourite pick this month, but I would love to know what one would you go for, so feel free to leave a comment.

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