The country house where Stephen Fry went to school has become a spectacular £6m house in the Cotswolds

Stouts Hill has been everything from prep school to timeshare but is back to its best as a vacation home – and it’s on the market. Penny Churchill is watching.

It has been exactly four years since the Grade II* listed Stouts Hill in Ouley, near the Dursleys, Gloucestershire, was last sold on the open market. Since then, the beautiful Cotswold stone country house, a rare example of very early Georgian Gothic architecture, nestled in a picturesque hidden valley on the edge of the Cotswold Escarpment, has been spectacularly transformed back into its original grand family status. home, which was a preparatory school from 1935 to 1979, when Stephen Fry and Rick Mayall were among its students, and a country house timeshare from 1983 to 2019.

The house is currently listed for sale through Savills in Cirencester for an estimated price of £6m – almost £4m more than its final sale price in 2019, which speaks volumes for both the amount of work done and for market movements during the year. these last few unusual years.

Stouts Hill stands on 20 acres of gardens and grounds, which includes a lake and a tennis court, and offers over 13,700 sq. study, library, kitchen/breakfast room and eight bedroom suite.

It includes five two-bedroom cottages with a rental income of around £70,000 a year, as well as a large party shed.

Recording in rural life (July 5, 1973) Country house expert James Lees-Milne, who worked for the National Trust from 1936 to 1973, traces the early history of Stouts Hill.

Although the name of the architect is not officially recorded, the date of its construction is confirmed on the bat as 1743, and the initials “TG” point to Timothy Hyde as the man who built it, having inherited the property and a “comfortable fortune” from his father. father, also Thomas Hyde, in the same year.

The Hydes were prosperous tailors who, for generations, married wealthy but not patrician local families. Two generations of Hyde’s daughters married the Clutterbucks of nearby Frampton in the first half of the 18th century, and Stouts Hill’s close resemblance to the neo-Gothic garden house built for Richard Clutterbuck at Frampton Court suggests that both houses were almost certainly designed by William Halfpenny. .

A former carpenter and author of several sample books, Halfpenny took over the practice of the Bristol architect John Strahan, builder of Frampton Court, after the latter’s death in 1740, and is known to have designed in both the Classical and Gothic styles.

According to family records compiled in 1830 by Mary Ann Haven, a collateral descendant of the Hydes, Timothy Hyde was a “rogue” who intended to rise above his social position: “He maintained the best society in the county, such as the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, Berkeley, the etc. This man wrote to London for his mistress! His friends (not very choosy in their manners) sent him down one deceased – then he turned in the same quarter after another, and another was sent, from which come the Hydes, who are now found in the county in various lower strata of society. life.’

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In the end, “women, architecture, and keeping up with the Beauforts led to Hyde’s downfall. Even his modest small fortune could not resist their demands. When he died intestate and insolvent in 1780, his rightful heir, his sister’s son, William Hyde Adey, was forced to sell whatever was left,” says Lees-Milne, adding: “Stouts Hill was already on the market. when, one fine morning in 1776, the Rev. and Mrs. William Lloyd Baker set out for Bath in their carriage and pair.

Having presumably climbed Frochester Hill, they were soon paddling along a flat stretch of road on the ridge of the Cotswolds near the village of Nimpsfield. To their right was the Berkeley Valley and an incomparable view of the Severn Estuary.

“Suddenly they were struck by the sun reflected in the window panes of a modern house in the grove below them. To their delight, they discovered that it was for sale, and immediately proceeded to buy it. The deal, due to mortgage loans and the extremely difficult financial situation of its owner, turned out to be protracted, and it was not until the mid-1780s that the Lloyd Bakers were able to move in.

The Reverend William Lloyd Baker lived at Stouts Hill until his death at the age of 79 in 1830. Thereafter, the house was leased to a daughter and her husband, Colonel Benjamin Chapman Brown, whose family remained until the early 20th century.

Olive Lloyd Baker then transferred him to Harding Preparatory School, which moved there in 1935. Renamed Stouts Hill School, it later enrolled not only actors Stephen Fry and Rick Mayall but also Captain Mark Phillips among its students before closing it. doors 1979

Stouts Hill is being sold through Savills for £6m. see more details and photos.

Escape the city and relax in the idyllic beauty of the Cotswolds.

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