Property of the week: Why this family home is just perfect
Becky Sheaves discovers a historic home in a tranquil Devon village.
This week's star property is The Coach House in the pretty Mid Devon village of Down St Mary. This beautiful house was formerly the coach house of the nearby rectory. It now has a large chunk of the rectory's original gardens, making the property a very sheltered, secluded and private place to live, despite its convenient village location.
"It's so tranquil here, as we are not overlooked. The house faces over the gardens, with its gable end towards a quiet road, and the property has so many trees around the garden," explains owner Andrew who, with his wife Catherine, has lived at The Coach House for ten years.
"Yet when I was working in Exeter, I would stroll out of the house to the nearby railway station and be in Exeter in half an hour. It's such a scenic commute, too, through wonderful Devon countryside."
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Today, the house has three double bedrooms and one single bedroom, a spacious family kitchen (17 x 15 ft) and a beautiful living room (17 x 23 ft) and a separate dining room and utility room downstairs.
"It's the perfect family home," says Andrew. "Catherine loves cooking and the kitchen really is the heart of the house. Throughout the house we have a lovely cottage feel with features like ceiling beams and small-paned windows but because the house is on a larger scale it is spacious and very light."
The building dates back to the 19th century and was once home to the carriages and horses of the nearby grand rectory. Then over the years it played host to the village Sunday School and was, during the Second World War, the HQ of the local Home Guard (or Dad's Army). Today, it has been thoughtfully converted into a really charming village home, with a most attractive exterior and lovely accommodation indoors to match.
"It was lovely when we moved in, but we put in a new kitchen with Corian worktops – they are so practical," says Andrew, who works in local government. "We also put in a new family bathroom and a woodburning stove in the living room, which makes the room very cosy and warm at this time of year."
The gardens, too, deserve special mention. "The previous owners had been here for 20 years. The husband was a botanist and his wife was a florist, and they were both keen and skilled gardeners. Their garden design and planting schemes are absolutely wonderful, with an amazing succession of flowers and colour," says Andrew.
"Both Catherine and I are keen gardeners too, so it really has been wonderful to have half an acre of such a lovely garden to work with. As well as lots of colour and interest it is a very productive garden too, with so much fruit and vegetables growing here every year."
One of the upstairs bedrooms has a door and bridge giving access to the garden from the first floor, which is a lovely touch on summer mornings. There are two greenhouses, a summer house and an ornamental pond.
The village of Down St Mary is a pretty and peaceful place to live, with wonderful countryside nearby. "You can see both Dartmoor and Exmoor from the village, but the countryside around us is much gentler. It's the classic rolling Devon hills and very attractive," says Andrew.
There are local primary schools and shops in Copplestone, a mile away, and Bow, two miles away. Children living here go to secondary school in either Chulmleigh or Crediton. For town facilities, Okehampton is 20 minutes to the west and Crediton is 15 minutes to the east, while Exeter is 15 miles to the south and easily reached by car or by the convenient Tarka line train service, which has a stop within walking distance of The Coach House.
Andrew and Catherine, whose son Tom is now grown up and working in London as a teacher, are planning to move to South East Cornwall. "It's where I grew up and now that I am working from home, we've decided to be near our extended family there," he explains.
Their decision to sell The Coach House is an exciting opportunity for anyone looking for a characterful, well-maintained and attractive property with wonderful gardens and lots of good facilities nearby.
The Coach House, Down St Mary, Mid Devon, £500,000
Property: Peaceful period four-bed village house in pretty countryside, with a superb half-acre garden.
Location: Fifteen miles north of Exeter, in a friendly village with views of both Exmoor and Dartmoor.
Accommodation: Large 23ft living room with woodburner, 17x15 ft family kitchen, separate dining room, four bedrooms, two bathrooms.
Outside: Large and well-kept garden of 0.6 acres, including sweeping gravel drive, established planting and lots of trees. Two greenhouses, a summer house, ornamental pond, fruit trees and vegetable garden.
Agent: Helmores, Crediton, 01363 777999, www.helmores.com