by Aspect County

The Owl House, Lamberhurst

The former weekend home of socialite and brewery heiress Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, has come to the market in Lamberhurst, Kent. The Owl House is a Grade II listed home dating back to the 16th century, set within historic gardens and surrounded by countryside, seven miles from Tunbridge Wells. 

Savills The Owl House Lamberhurst 1

Previously forming part of a larger country estate, The Owl House takes its name from the Owlers’ who took up the smuggling of wool from the Kent/Sussex coast to France in the late 1600s, when trade was outlawed to protect the textile industry. They communicated from their hideouts at night by calling to each other like owls. 

In 1952, the five-bedroom house was bought by Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, socialite and brewery heiress (daughter of Ernest Guiness), as her weekend home. She loved to entertain and her guests included members of the royal family: Princess Margaret, Princess Marina Duchess of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Joan Aly Kahn together with her son Prince Amyn. 

Lady Dufferin renovated the house and created a wonderful, professionally-designed garden which extended beyond the current boundaries. The garden was opened to the public in 1960 by her friend Raine, Viscountess Lewisham, later Countess Spencer. 

The estate was divided up in 2006, when the current owners bought the property and since then, it has been carefully brought up to date. Notable features include the cat slide roof’, crooked chimney and the unusual revolving hanger set into the main beam of what is now the dining room, said to be for hanging skeins of wool. The property has aged oak timbers, oak drop latch doors and inglenook fireplaces, with lovely views to all sides over the extensive grounds.

The gardens wrap around the house to all sides, extending to about 4.27 acres in all, made up of different areas including park-like and woodland areas. To the front of the house, the grounds are enclosed by an impressive brick wall and there is a wide paved terrace and an arboured walk-way. A pretty pavilion provides a focal point on the site of a former grass tennis court and there is woodland beyond the boundaries. 

In addition to the main house, there is an annexe with living area/games room, bedroom and shower room over a detached, cart-style three-bay garage with a kitchenette on the ground floor. 

Charles Lang of Savills Tunbridge Wells says: This special house has a long and interesting history and is in a rare, country estate setting, yet it is so convenient for family life being close to Tunbridge Wells as well as Frant Station at Bells Yew Green.” 

The Owl House is being marketed for a guide price of £1,950,000.