Buy Of The Week: Westland Farm

Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the magnificent internal spaces in this Surrey farm conversion, says Mary Wilson
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The Independent Online

When you first see Westland Farm in Ewhurst, Surrey, you would imagine that it's a typical Surrey tile-hung 18th-century farmhouse, inside and out. But as you walk through the front garden with its asymmetrical hedges of miniature rosemaries and slate spiral sculpture, you get a clue that it might look a bit different once through the double front doors.

"When we bought the house six years ago it was dark and dingy, but we fell in love with the location," says the wife of the owner, a city high-flyer who does not want to be identified.

"It's surrounded by its own plot, so is totally secluded and very peaceful and has wonderful views over to Pitch Hill. It also has a lovely drive through its own grounds past a charming bluebell wood with a little stream running through. We could see our three children playing Swallows and Amazons there."

The family's move was quite a gamble as the house was considerably smaller than the one they were moving from. But they wanted the outside space to build stables, as four out of five of them were mad keen on riding and they were banking on being able to extend.

"We moved into the original house three months after buying Westland Farm, having renovated and decorated the existing building," she says. "Then we put in for planning permission to demolish the adjacent bungalow and build a much larger wing. Luckily we got it."

This wing is one enormous double-height room, measuring 38 feet 9 inches by 21 feet. At one end, there's a spiral staircase leading up to a gallery, where their master bedroom and bathroom now is. Under the gallery is the dining area, but away from this is a massive living space with vaulted ceiling, huge fireplace made from Portland stone and at one end of the room, a triple-height cathedral window.

"We have put in a few green oak beams, but we didn't want it to look too heavily beamed, and these are all uplighted," the owner's wife says. "The original house has quite low ceilings, so we have put in a few old beams, which we bought from a reclamation yard in Dunsfold, in the sitting room, the library and the kitchen to give the rooms more character."

The kitchen used to be much smaller with a conservatory behind it that led off the sitting room. "The planners allowed us to trade the space of the conservatory to double the size of the kitchen, which is now 32 feet long," she says. "We've made a large pyramid light in the ceiling above the kitchen table and put in two sets of double French doors with wood frames at the far end, so it's very, very light. You look over the terrace and the back garden and when the doors are open, it feels as if we are sitting in the garden." In the kitchen are maple units with shelving over, Italian under-heated travertine marble flooring and an Aga.

The hallway is another massive space. This was originally about two thirds of the size - so not a bad size, but they had to extend it to join up the house to the new wing. On one side there are double glass doors leading out into the entrance hall, where they have put in a skylight and on the other, an oak and glass panel looking through to the kitchen. "When you come in through the entrance doors, you can see right through the house to the garden, where we have a Nick Fiddian-Green sculpture of a horse, which looks magnificent," she says. "The specification to the architect was to concentrate on height and light and he has totally transformed the house."

The gardens themselves are spectacular - a joint effort by her husband, who had strong views on how the garden should look, and the renowned garden designer, Anthony Paul. It was previously very enclosed with lots of little paths, trellises and fences. "You couldn't see the views or the pond from the kitchen at all," says the vendor. "And there was no colour in the summer, only magnolia trees and rhododendrons, which are over by then. We wanted colour to go right through to October. In the winter, there are lots of grasses, which have great movement and look fantastic with rain or frost on them."

As her husband is a fan of Japanese gardens, there are two - one of which is full of miniature bamboo plants, grape hyacinths and ornamental maples, plus an asymmetric rill running through it, which is like a small canal going vertically and horizontally with a series of small waterfalls. The other is a water garden laid out beyond the tennis court.

Throughout the garden, there are unusual pieces of sculpture which they have bought over the years from Hannah Peschar's sculpture garden (she is married to Anthony Paul) and even the pool has a different feel to most, created by surrounding it with exotic grasses, banana palms and colourful planters placed against a yellow ochre painted wall. "In the summer, it really does feel as if you have been transported into the tropics," she says.

And in order for the house to feel as one, they changed all the window frames to match up with the new ones, put in several new windows to balance the house from the outside and stripped off all the old tile hanging, so the whole of the exterior looked identical. "We wanted it all to age together," she says.

Get the spec

What's for sale: A period farmhouse in Ewhurst, Surrey with five bedrooms, four reception rooms, large kitchen/breakfast room and a two bedroom cottage.

Serious kit: Lutron and John Cullen lighting, Philippe Starck fittings in the bathrooms, wine cellar, swimming pool, tennis court and stabling.

Other benefits: Barn with planning consent, lake, tree house and 36 acres of paddocks and woodland.

Buy it: Westland Farm is for sale through Browns (01483 267070) with a guide price of £2.95m.

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