6 September 2002

Ideal country estate is top of autumn agenda

By Andrew Shirley

STRUTT & Parker is about to kick off its autumn marketing campaign with what the firm is describing as the "quintessential country estate".

Pinpointing exactly what defines such a property would provoke much debate amongst land agents and owners, but with a large principal house in an attractive location and a good range of secondary dwellings, the 350-acre Lower Bowden House Estate, near Pangbourne, Berks, seems to fulfil the most important requirements.

However, one more unusual feature is a range of buildings with a capacity far in excess of the productive capabilities of the estates Grade 3 soils. The main grain store, for example, could handle in excess of 5000t of corn. This is due to a farming company with 1400 acres on its books using Lower Bowden as its base. The company has an agreement to continue the arrangement until harvest 2003.

With a 10-bedroomed house overlooking rolling countryside across impressive gardens – complete with pool, tennis court and a splendid tree house – the property would seem ideal for the successful city businessperson and family, especially as London is only an hour down the M4, but would they be interested in owning such a large chunk of arable storage space?

Agent Natalie Price thinks so; even if the buildings are not used for agriculture. "This is something for somebody to get their teeth into. They could convert them into light industrial or storage space."

Another unusual aspect of the disposal is that the estate, unlike the majority of recent sales, is only being offered as a whole. "We did consider splitting it but decided there was more value in keeping it together," says Miss Price, who is confident the sale will achieve more than £5.5m. "You dont have to be very punchy on your valuation figures to get to the guide."

As well as the main house, there is an immaculate four-bedroomed farmhouse, a coach house, which with planning consent could make an extremely interesting dwelling, and four cottages, some of which are agriculturally tied. A large parcel of amenity woodland with potential for a shoot or leisure use is also included.

Lower Bowden is owned by a trust set up by previous occupant the Cardy family, but for the past 10 years the main house has been rented out. The tenants liked the area so much they have purchased their own house nearby.

"Rather than finding new tenants the trustees of the estate decided it was a good time to sell," notes Miss Price.

Local agent Daniel Gilbert is also acting for the vendor. &#42