- Grade II listed farm house
- Three receptions
- Six bedrooms
- Two bathrooms
- Outbuilding and garage
- Reception hallway
- Kitchen & Utility
- Two WCs
- One acre of land
Before you even step over the threshold, an acre of land within which the house sits is there to absorb and enjoy. Consisting of several gardens, a croquet lawn with a beautiful backdrop of hillside and woods beyond; a courtyard patio that is perfect for enjoying the afternoon sun; an orchard and allotment area with apples and pears; a greenhouse and a vegetable patch. Most charming is the 'inner garden' - an area enclosed by the original, listed iron railings that surround the house. This is a perfectly safe haven where young children or pets can play. Outside, on the fringes of the plot, are two listed outbuildings, a garage and many more trees for adventurous older children to climb and to make dens.
One enters the hallway via a well- proportioned front door with ivy clad walls to either side, to discover the most ancient area of the property. Original flagstones, a huge open fireplace and exposed beams set the tone. This is a home that will need some time, love and, of course, money to create an interior with the 21st century comforts and conveniences that we covet today. But what it currently lacks in terms of spec, it more than makes up for with its abundant character and endless original features, which are clearly the reason why it would make such a fantastic renovation project and future home.
To the left is the formal, wood panelled drawing room with a large fireplace and unusual round bay window that looks onto the inner garden. To the right, a cloakroom and, beyond that, a dual aspect sitting room with wood burner and superb views onto Francis Woods. Behind the staircase, at the back of the entrance hall, is a study/playroom with an original built in corner cupboard and chimney. It would make a perfect 'snug', were the fireplace to be reinstated.
Steps lead down to a large dining room with a separate wine storage space. Again, the chimney recess could accommodate an Aga, if the new occupiers chose to change the room's use. A kitchen and utility room lie beyond, the latter housing a second fridge and appliances, as well as plenty of wall and base units. The kitchen, which has a large range oven and handmade elm and oak units, leads onto a boot room with outside access - the perfect 'holding space' when returning home with a muddy dog from one of the many woodland walks that are within striking distance.
Upstairs, original wide oak floorboards lead to six individual double bedrooms. The master has many exposed beams, a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom. Bedroom two is double aspect. Bedroom three, currently used as a study, overlooks the courtyard patio. A family bathroom, separate WC and linen cupboard are also found off the long, wide landing. Bedrooms four, five and six between them feature wonderfully high ceilings, exposed beams, a fireplace and even a patch of wattle and daub, revealing the original construction of the house, which dates back to the 1490s.
HISTORY, RUMOUR & LEGEND
There are a wealth of stories behind this fascinating old property, with the ones that are trickier to substantiate being just as fascinating as those based on fact. It's not just in the past 50 years that Vale Farm has attracted occupants who have come, and stayed.
A previous owner, a farmer named James Gurney is recorded in parish records as living there in the 1890s and his local family ties go all the way back to 1538. Indeed the Domesday Book of 1066 reports how land in the area of the farm was held in common by owners and tenants alike, who collectively had 26 ploughs, but only enough oxen to pull 21 of them. The surrounding woodland supported 1650 pigs.
So, with the land around Vale Farm being arranged according to this medieval, open-field principle many farmers did not have all the plots that they were responsible for in the same block unless and until they did swaps with others - a lengthy process known as Enclosure. In 1843, James Field, the occupier of Vale Farm, had part of his land at White Hawridge, which is further along Vale Road near the Black Horse Inn, where it was intermixed with other farmers' strips. These strips can still be seen today on the hillside near the pub.
Stories abound about the house and its occupants. The current owners recall an enthusiastic visitor more than a decade ago, who claimed she was the surviving relative of an admiral who had once lived at Vale Farm. Could she have meant local dignitary Robert Ward, who was Commissioner for the Admiralty and Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the late 1700s.
Equally intriguing - and with concrete evidence in the form of original iron bars on two of the upstairs bedroom windows - is the story of how local girls were isolated and kept safe at Vale Farm during the typhoid epidemic that killed at least 20 people in the village in 1871. "Either the bars were to keep the girls safe from falling out, or to stop local boys shinning up and creeping in!" says the vendor.
Chesham has a reputation for religious non conformity - Catholic controversialist Robert Harding was burnt at the stake as a heretic, accused of conducting prayer readings in English rather than the customary Latin. So it could well be that the attic of Vale Farm will reveal the priest hole - of which the owners have been told - if and when it is eventually opened up in any future renovations.
And no local history would be complete without a smattering of celebrity! D H Lawrence was a near neighbour of Vale Farm, renting one of the Bellingdon Farm cottages on Hawridge Lane in 1914, where he penned his novel The Rainbow, about three generations of farmers coming to terms with industrialisation.
Please note we have not tested any apparatus, fixtures, fittings, or services. Interested parties must undertake their own investigation into the working order of these items. All measurements are approximate and photographs provided for guidance only.