One of the most complete surviving 14th century manor houses in the world has come up for sale

Penny Churchill announces the arrival on the market of Knightstone Manor, a magnificent and incredibly well-preserved medieval house in Devon.

A very special medieval home hits the market this week: Grade I listed Knightstone Manor in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

This house was described by Christopher Hussey in rural life (September 8 and 15, 1950) as “one of the most complete surviving examples of a 14th-century manor house”. It has successfully completed another 72 years since Hussey’s days and is now up for sale through Knight Frank for over £4.5 million, photos show.

For the past 20+ years, Nightstone has been the beloved family home of the charismatic Jan-Erik Österlund, a man of boundless energy and broad interests who ran a public investment company in his native Sweden before moving to Sweden. In 1983 he moved to England where he set up a venture capital group investing mainly in medical technology and biotechnology. Second only to his love of sailing and photography, his passion for historic homes took him to the deepest Devon in 2000, where real estate consultant Martin Lamb introduced him to a slightly altered medieval hall set in 18 acres of magical gardens. parkland and paddocks in a quiet hidden valley, a mile from Ottery St Mary and 13 miles from Exeter.

Research by Mr. Österlund shows that Knightstone Manor was built in 1380 by Thomas de Beatlesgate on land sold to him by Richard de Nightstone. He remained in the Beatlesgate family until 1494, when the last Beatlesgate died without issue, leaving the property to Lady Cicely Harington, wife of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset. Her estates eventually passed to their grandson, the Duke of Suffolk, who was executed and beheaded in 1554 after failing to install his daughter, the equally ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, on the English throne.

Gray’s estates then passed to the Crown, and in 1554 Nightstone was purchased by the wealthy Otteri merchant William Sherman, who undertook a substantial restoration of the estate, adding new windows and a new fireplace in the Great Hall. He was succeeded in 1618 by his grandson Gideon, who married Coplestone, to whose branch Knightstone passed in 1627 and belonged until about 1800. It was then acquired by Stephen Hawtrey, scion of a prominent family connected with Eton College, before being bought in 1803 by the Rev. Dr. Drury, headmaster of Harrow, in whose family he remained until 1886.

As Mr. Österlund points out, Nightstone was never expanded, although windows and stairs were replaced and two gatehouses were removed around 1700.

Like a typical medieval hall, it has a central Great Hall surrounded by other living and service areas. Together with the main house, the two wings form a central courtyard, at one end of which is the former chapel, consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter in 1381. smaller and less impressive. The Great Hall was the center of life, where the household slept, ate and entertained.

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“Only the knight and his wife had their own bedroom; they slept in a solarium overlooking the entrance and the Great Hall. The people were also smaller, and while the Great Hall has nine meters [30ft] to its ceiling, you can hit your head on the ceiling beams in several other rooms.”

During their tenure, the Österlunds, on the advice of English Heritage, installed new underfloor heating systems in many rooms. Pine floors have been replaced with 300-year-old wide oak planks, nine modern bathrooms and a new kitchen built into what was originally the chaplain’s room on the first floor of the chapel.

They also built a new staff cottage to the north, and a new block of sedum-planted, curved-roofed stables that housed the estate’s office, workshop, and warehouse.

In total, today’s Knightstone Manor offers approximately 9,300 square feet of family-friendly living space, including four main reception areas, a kitchen/breakfast room, various utility rooms, master and guest bedrooms, and four additional bedrooms in the main building with two additional bedrooms. . bedrooms, media room and wine cellar in the north wing. Additional accommodation is available at the three-bedroom Knightstone Cottage.

According to Hussey, Nightstone owes its new discovery and preservation to Colonel Reggie Cooper, who bought the estate in 1941 and laid out the gardens that same year, with its signature yew hedges and garden rooms. Cooper was a bachelor diplomat who, in 1914, worked with Harold Nicholson of Sissinghurst in Kent and Gerald Wellesley of Strathfield Say, Hampshire, at the embassy in Istanbul. Apparently “they dreamed of English manors, old stone, rich wood, gray-green tapestries and flickering candles” – a description that fits the Knightstone estate like a favorite gardening glove.

They were all passionate gardeners who, after the First World War, created famous gardens and shared their ideas with rural life circle, including Hussey and magazine founder Edward Hudson. Thanks to Lewis Atkin, the dedicated manager of the Nightstone estate, the gardens and grounds have been restored to their “Reginald Cooper glory” with only the trees and shrubs that existed in medieval times planted.

The Knightstone estate is up for sale through Knight Frank for £4.5 million.

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