Laura Cartledge learns that with some ‘chocolate box’ properties you never know what you’re going to get.
The number of bedrooms, a downstairs loo and outside space are three popular demands when it comes to house hunting.
However Louise Jackson and her family were seeking something else as well.
“We lived in Hampshire and the property we were in was in a village but it didn’t have a strong sense of community – that was what we were looking for,” she reveals.
“That and getting the children in place before they started secondary school.”
Having slowly spread the search further afield, the Jacksons came across Slindon and the appeal was instant.
“We were very taken with the village straight away,” confesses Louise. “It has a lovely story to it, like the shop which opened.
“It used to be an old forge and the village raised enough to complete the renovation and now it is a community shop – owned and run,” she enthuses.
“In fact you’ll find, at this time of year, when all the local produce is coming out that if you have any surplus figs or plums they will be on sale there.”
With the location ‘ticking all the boxes’ the next step was to find a place to call home.
“We found Flint Cottage in the August of 2012,” recalls Louise. “It has just got a lovely feel to it.
“It’s a nice, easy flowing, house. It is hard to say what it was exactly, we just walked in and we knew.”
This is despite the 1700s signature property needing some attention.
“The work started straight away; there were lots of things that needed addressing – boring bits like guttering, repointing and the fencing,” Louise explains.
“I always say we have done all the grotty jobs,” she smiles. “It is about letting the house breathe – that is how I like to think about it.”
There’s certainly a feeling here which makes your shoulders relax, perhaps it is the simple décor or the big bright spaces.
“You see the front and think ‘that is lovely’ but then there is so much more to it,” she admits. “It looks like a very chocolate box house.”
But with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, five reception rooms and then a separate barn there is no compromising accommodation for character.
In addition to the feature fireplaces, original chimney and beautiful beams, the home has some hidden quirks – including a hidden door in the formal sitting room.
“It just looks like a bookcase, it has books on it, but it opens into a secret study,” explains Louise.
“The house has a cellar as well which was an old water tank and in the kitchen there is a hatch door.”
While out in the garden, among the Mediterranean style paved patio and quintessential cottage planting, is a sunken well – all of which can be enjoyed thanks to Louise’s labour.
“Because the garden was overgrown for our taste we took the decision to take it back to the basics,” she says.
“We completely stripped it out, then I did all the groundwork before someone came to replant it.
“That was a big job, but now it is just beautiful. It is a real cottage garden – you’d never guess it had been there only a couple of years.”
The main house, made of two buildings which are believed to have been linked 40 years ago, sees a hay loft and cottage make the most of the sprawling countryside with views from all angles.
However ‘the most exciting bit’ which Louise says ‘never fails to catch my breath’ is the barn situated to the north of the main gardens.
“From the front it looks like a small space but when you go in to the living room it just opens up,” she enthuses.
“It is a beautiful space which could be used for all manner of things – we were originally thinking of renting it out for Goodwood.”
The versatile space has been completely modernised and features a mezzanine bedroom, new bathroom, kitchen and flooring all under a stunning vaulted ceiling.
“Where we have taken the house to means there is still lots of opportunities for people to make their own mark on it,” insists Louise.
“I’ve really enjoyed it, it has taught me a lot.”
There’s no doubt it has been quite a project, and clearly one the family have relished, so why are they leaving?
“It’s a very difficult decision we have made, but things change and move on,” she replies.
“It is lovely and we still love it. I caught myself the other day saying ‘I don’t think I am done with Slindon yet’. You don’t appreciate it until you are in it.”
Flint Cottage is on the market at £1,185,000 with Pegasus Properties, 21 High Street, Arundel, call 01903 884545 or visit pegasusproperties.co.uk for more details
August 10, 2015 Interiors and Property