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To the Manor Re-Born: Walk in the Footsteps of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton at this Somerset Estate

PUBLISHED: 12:40 25 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:57 20 February 2013

To the Manor Re-Born: Walk in the Footsteps of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton at this Somerset Estate

To the Manor Re-Born: Walk in the Footsteps of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton at this Somerset Estate

Audrey would certainly have approved of the stylish transformation of part of the beautiful estate of Cricket St Thomas on the Dorset/Somerset border, which was once the location of Grantleigh Manor in the hit TV series To the Manor Born

Audrey would certainly have approved of the stylish transformation of part of the beautiful estate of Cricket St Thomas on the Dorset/Somerset border. Once the location of Grantleigh Manor in the hit TV series To the Manor Born, in the latest episode of this country estate, 20 luxurious eco-lodges have been built in the Grade II* Listed parkland.

There has been exceptional interest in Swandowns individually designed two, three and four-bedroom holiday homes costing from 240,000 to 330,000. After just a few months of marketing by Knight Frank and Greenslade Taylor Hunt thereare just a handful of properties left. Chris Clifford of Knight Franks Exeter office said, Swandowns location within the heart of the beautiful West Country and all that it has to offer is unrivalled. By train, the site is only two hours from London and is within easy reach of two mainline stations, the M5 Motorway and A303, making it the perfect location for a second home. There is also great letting potential for periods when owners are not in residence, with bookings for July and August being almost sold out.

The holiday homes have been designed to make the most of their spectacular views towards Cricket House and its lakes and historic gardens. The large windows, and in most cases, vaulted ceilings, give a light and spacious feel to the houses. The homes can also give an income, as they can be let out when not occupied. Running costs are kept low with thermally efficient timber construction and super-insulation, and under-floor heating and wood burning stoves will keep you cosy. The green credentials dont stop there as Cricket St. Thomas even has a solar park to generate its own electricity.

Stephen and John Taylor, whose brother-in-law Peter Spence created the sitcom To the Manor Born, own the estate and is clearly delighted that this latest chapter in its illustrious history has been such as success. Residents have the opportunity to live as to the manor born enjoying the use of the glorious estate and walking in the footsteps of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Richard DeVere, he added.

Living in a purpose-built 21st-century house on a great country estate also has advantages as Stephen, who has experienced living a real manor house, explained: These modern homes are comfortable and easy to maintain and run, unlike a manor house with its leaky roof and cold draughts; yet they are able to enjoy the 1,000 acre parkland setting without the expense.

The Estate, which dates back to the 14th century, is steeped in history. Once home to Lord Bridport, who married Lord Nelsons niece, it eventually passed into the hands of the Frys, the famous Bristol chocolate makers. In 1966 it was bought by the Taylor family who, seeing a means of getting the estate to pay its way, opened a wildlife park in the grounds. The venture was a huge success and the Cricket St Thomas Estate became one of the West Countrys most popular attractions. The family also built a dairy and soon the 400,000 visitors were licking their way through 100 tonnes of ice cream a year.

In the '90s a more unusual spotted resident came to join the camels, lemurs and monkeys that resided in the park, when it became the location of Crinkly Bottom the home of Noel Edmonds creation Mr Blobby. Visitor numbers gradually dwindled as tastes changed and in a twist of fate, just as in the TV series where Audrey fforbes-Hamilton had to sell her beloved manor house and move into The Old Lodge, so the Taylor family sold Cricket House in 1999 to Warner Hotels and the family moved into a lodge on the Estate.

The wildlife park is now closed but the 225 bedroom hotel, which boasts an indoor pool, spa facilities, treatment rooms, a fully-equipped gym and tennis court, has become the centre piece of the Estate once more. Owners of the holiday homes at Swansdown have access to the hotels leisure complex as well as to their own heated indoor pool, housed in the reception area of the gated estate, which also has extensive lawns and gardens, and a childrens play area

Swansdown also offers access to eight miles of specially designated footpaths through magnificent gardens, parkland, wildflower meadows and ancient woodland, as well as fishing on the chain of lakes that runs through the Estate

The Taylor family still have connections with showbiz. Nephew, Hugo Taylor is one of the stars of Made in Chelsea, Channel 4s reality show. As for Audrey her alter-ego, actress Penelope Keith, has been busy working with the National Trust on reinterpreting the 500-year-old Avebury Manor in Wiltshire for the BBC One series The Manor Reborn.

Agents details: Knight Frank: 01392 848844,
Contact: Christopher Clifford 01392-848839 07769-957421

Greenslade Taylor Hunt: 01460 238 382,

Estates history:

The first mention of a manor house at Cricket St Thomas was in 1313
The house burnt down or was demolished in the late 18th century
In 1786 Rear Admiral Hood commissioned John Soane (later Sir John Soane) one of England's foremost architects to draw up plans to enlarge "Cricket Lodge"
In 1814 Lord Bridport transformed the estate by adding a little river, thus creating the present chain of lakes
In 1967 Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park was opened
In 1994 the gardens were briefly the home of Mr Blobby and Crinkley Bottom
In 2009 the Wildlife Park was closed with many of the larger animals re-homed
In 2010 the historic gardens were reopened after a major refurbishment project
In 2011 a select development of holiday homes are under construction


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