Sun House, Arundel
With links to art history and exquisite interior design, Laura Cartledge finds a property sure to put a smile on your face.
Sun House, in Arundel, is head and shoulders above other properties – and not just because it boasts an elevated position at the top of the town.
Currently owned by Spencer and Freya Swaffer, the Georgian house also has a place in history.
“Painter John Constable stayed here,” explains Spencer. “It was owned by his namesake, George Constable, who was a brewer here.”
Perhaps it is this link with the past that drew Spencer and Freya to this stunning three-storey home.
The pair run an antiques business. In fact Spencer has owned his shop just a stone’s throw away on the high street for 41 years.
“We love finding things that need waking up,” admits Freya, “we could just see what it was going to be.”
“The moment we walked through the door it just felt like home, even before we had legions of men doing any work on it,” Spencer adds.
Initially five months were spent stripping the building back.
“We did everything we needed to do in the beginning – everything since has just been honing it, fine tuning,” says Freya. “It has just been a really enjoyable and very long project.”
Now, while the exterior is double fronted and formal – with its red door among the red brick flanked by columns
and palm trees – the interior echoes that of the Swaffer business; ‘effortlessly glamorous, achingly stylish; old money
grandeur with a humorous undertone’.
No detail has been overlooked, even down to some that many would just see as fixtures and fittings.
This ranges from all of the radiators, which have been replaced with original 1870s period models, to the feature floors.
“Some of the floors upstairs are pottery boards,” says Freya. “The ones in my studio still had the clay circles on them from where the pots were rested before they were fired.”
Then there are the fireplaces. Freya grimaces as she recalls the work it took to remove the gloss paint from the ornately carved example in the dining room while the one in the living room also has a tale to tell.
“I found the fireplace in the middle of the night in a field in Nottingham,” laughs Spencer. “It took eight years to find and I knew straight away it was the one for the house.
“The shop is over 6,000 feet so we are constantly bringing home vans full of stuff,” he reveals. “Things have come from all around the world.”
“A lot of people can cope with just having somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat,” Freya adds. “I think because of what we do for a living we are really uncompromising with the things we live with.
“It is the character we love. Everything we have I remember where we bought it, who we bought it from and what we were doing.”
So have there been pieces destined for the shop that have never made it there?
“We have been lucky enough to keep things,” smiles Freya. “But sometimes it will be really frustrating. We will have a piece in the shop which is drop dead stunning and it won’t fit in the house. Other things come and stay for a little while.”
Thankfully they do have a lot of room to play with and the symmetrical nature of the house, thanks to the front door being in the middle and windows either side, makes for a very comfor table living space.
Turn left as you enter brings you to the sitting room and adjoining German fitted kitchen, while bearing right brings you to the palatial dining room.
This floor is completed by the cloakroom and a separate laundry which Freya admits is the room she’ll ‘miss the most’.
“Everyone should have one it is just so practical,” she says.
Curving upwards is the central staircase which brings us to the landing. The generous dimensions of all the rooms is best showcased here as, measuring nearly 20 ft by 12 ft, it also doubles up as a study.
Two bedrooms, two dressing rooms and a breathtaking family bathroom occupy the rest of the space, while a door leads out to the garden.
This unusual access is thanks to the hillside location and the side of the plot, completely hidden from the front, comes as a beautiful surprise.
Here mature landscaping, raised beds and a bespoke Alitex Victorian summerhouse all weaved together by artisan paths lovingly crafted by Freya herself.
“The garden is just wonderful in all weathers,” grins Spencer.
“We also built the greenhouse which is more like a sun room,” Freya explains, “and we have a mature asparagus bed, which is just lovely.”
The couple moved to Sun House 14 years ago, having previously lived above their shop, to better accommodate their family.
Now it is just the two of them, hence the desire to downsize.
“I suppose you haven’t been upstairs in about four years?” Freya asks Spencer. “I did go up the other day and was shocked how many rooms there are up there,” he replies – with three bedrooms, a playroom and another family bathroom you can understand why.
Plus there is still the wine cellar, with its antique majolica floor, and a double garage to take in.
“Every room goes together to make this a lovely home. It has met every need,” says Freya. “I feel spoilt to have all this and say ‘I don’t want it anymore’ but it is time to do it again.”
Sun House is on the market with Sims Williams, 8A High Street, Arundel, for a guide price of £1,750,000. To find out more, call 01903 885678 or visit www.simswilliams.co.uk
March 28, 2014 Interiors and Property