An outstanding mansion restoration project in the village of Denton, near Canterbury, has come to the market through Savills.
Denton Court is a Grade II* listed mansion in a private position within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, hidden from sight by bucolic rolling parkland. The property is about eight miles equidistant of Canterbury and the coastal town of Folkestone.
‘The Manor of Denton’ as it was once known, is on the site of a much earlier substantial building, possibly dating prior to 1086 when The Domesday Book, Liber de Wintonia was completed. At that time, ‘the Manor of Dentetone was given to Odo, Bishop of Baieux and Molleue who held it of King Edward as tenant; the sub-tenant, Ralph de Curbespine held it of the Bishop’. The Manor ‘was worthy of sixty shillings, arable land of three teams, four villans, with two borders have one team’.
Over the following centuries, the manor changed hands a number of times and in 1574, a new mansion was built by William Boys. Between 1792 and 1910, Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges, who was educated locally at Maidstone Grammar School and The Kings School, Canterbury, and later became an English bibliographer, genealogist and member of parliament for Maidstone, acquired the house and set about restoring it and landscaping the surrounding gardens and grounds. In 1860, having been partially destroyed by fire, the estate was sold to William Willats who then rebuilt the mansion, retaining as much as possible including the two western gables, hence the impressive main frontage now faces south instead of west. Passing down through several generations of Willats, Denton Court has more recently been in the same ownership for more than 50 years.
The Grade II* listed house, designated as a building of Special Architectural Interest and Historic Note, is approached over a long private drive, flanked by estate fencing and rolling parkland with expansive views over the formal gardens and beyond to the south. Within the grounds there is a detached, two-bedroom Victorian gatehouse and a detached four-bedroom cottage, together with an extensive range of adjacent period workshops, outbuildings and former stables, all set in just under 27 acres.
With its ornate southerly facing façade and faded elegance in evidence, the principal house presents a substantial restoration project. There is a wealth of features throughout, including high ceilings with decorative cornicework, wooden wall panelling and flooring, impressive sash windows, many with working window shutters; period fireplaces in the reception rooms and a majority of the bedrooms; and a number of similar features from a bygone era. Of particular note are the spacious rooms, with southerly vistas over the gardens and towards the parkland being enjoyed from most of the formal reception rooms. These lovely, light-filled rooms include a former ballroom, drawing and dining rooms, and a billiards room.
A grand central reception hall of excellent proportions features panelled wainscoting with a large, open fireplace to one end and a sweeping staircase leading up to the first floor, where the open gallery runs along three sides.
The bell corridor, so named as the original working bells are still in place, links the front hall to a further collection of rooms, including laundry/utility rooms, office/store rooms, a bathroom, the former kitchen with original cupboards and range still in situ, the current kitchen/breakfast room with AGA, a larder with slate shelving, a shower room and a separate WC.
An enclosed, covered walkway houses the old water pump and has a number of rooms located off it, which include several staff rooms over two floors, a cold store with mesh windows and a WC.
The cellar has four storerooms, one with wine bins and old bee holes and one which would have been used to house coal for the original coal fired boiler system.
There are two staircases to the first floor which has a total of nine bedrooms, a dressing room, three bathrooms, WC and a sewing/linen room. On the second floor are eight further bedrooms in varying states of disrepair, a tank room and access to the roof.
The Victorian gatehouse, which is subject to a lifetime tenancy, is on the left-hand side of the long drive to Denton Court. It has a sitting room, dining room with wood burning stove, kitchen, two bedrooms, a shower room and separate WC, along with its own pretty, enclosed garden and parking.
As the drive continues, a spur leads off to the north of the main house, passing the wide, well-trodden steps up to the walled garden and arriving at a brick laden area of parking in front of the former stables, outbuildings and the former coach house, now known as Court Cottage. Inside, the cottage benefits from well laid out accommodation, including a split-level sitting / dining room, kitchen / breakfast room, four bedrooms, a family bathroom and en suite shower room. Adjoining Court Cottage are various period outbuildings including wood stores, machinery mower stores and a workshop.
The gardens, grounds and land extend to about 26.87 acres and provide an enchanting backdrop. To the south lie the formal gardens with expansive lawns, central box parterres, wide gravel pathways stretching away to stone balustrading dividing the formal from informal yet equally delightful, undulating parkland. Within the grounds there are an array of beautiful, ancient trees providing a colourful display of foliage throughout the seasons. Several paddocks, which are down to grazing, complete the property.
The village of Denton has a village hall, ancient church and a pub, while Barham village, 2.6 miles away, has a village store and a post office. The medieval city of Canterbury, 8.5 miles from the property, with its cobbled streets and old buildings, is home to the famous cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to The Marlow Theatre, as well as a substantial range of shops, supermarkets and restaurants.
Julien Hunt of Savills says: “This magnificent country house presents a substantial restoration project, offering potential purchasers a rare opportunity to acquire a building of this historic stature and substance, and revive it to its former glory while introducing a touch of the 21st century to create a grand country home or a boutique hotel, subject to planning.”
Train services run from Canterbury West to London St Pancras in about 55 minutes and Canterbury East to London Victoria in 1 hr 36 minutes. A high speed service can be found at Ashford International station which gets to London St Pancras in 37 minutes. There are also trains from Shepherds Well station (5.6 miles) to London Victoria.
Denton Court is being marketed jointly by Savills and Finn’s for a guide price of in excess of £2,750,000.