Romancing the ROYALS
PUBLISHED: 00:16 08 November 2011 | UPDATED: 14:47 20 February 2013
If you're after a bit of royal history to go with your wow factor, look no further than this Holyport Manor, near Maidenhead, says Mink Kapferer...
Photography courtesy of Savills
Rumour has it that Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward used to stay at Langworthy when it belonged to the Mountbattens. Hmm. Not bad as far as royal rumours go. But add to that the one about HM The Queen and Prince Philip meeting for the first time ever in the grounds of Langworthy - and you've potentially got a right royal romantic residence on your hands!
But for Dean Graham and his wife, it wasn't the tales of dashing princes and royal trysts that sold them on Langworthy - it was the overriding warmth they felt about the property as a whole.
'Rumours are just rumours,' says vendor Dean, 'But when we first saw Langworthy, it was the warmth as well as the history surrounding the place that really struck a chord with us.'
Dating from the 13th Century, Langworthy has had a wonderfully colourful past, thanks to its many different owners - including the Crown in the 15th Century. Forming part of Lynden Manor, Langworthy was rebuilt in the mid-19th Century. And then, in the 1950s, when passed on from the Mountbattens into the hands of an architect, the original five-acre manor was divided into three plots. Langworthy is arguably the prettiest of these.
'There was once a moat surrounding the original Manor and there's still evidence of that here at Langworthy,' says Dean. 'There's a brook running around part of the house which is very pretty. We wanted to make more of a driveway to the house, so we cut into it a little, but we still wanted to retain some of it, so as not to lose that historical element.'
And it's precisely this historical element that the Grahams have been so keen on preserving that makes Langworthy extra special.
When you walk into Langworthy, you feel as if you've stepped back to Tudor times - and brought all your mod cons with you. 'Most of the time when you're faced with a property dating back to the 13th Century, all you can think of is the nightmare of bringing it into the 21st Century in terms of plumbing, electricity and heating. You imagine you'll just be throwing money at it forever in an effort to keep it functioning. But we made sure that's not a worry for Langworthy,' says proud Dean.
The couple and their two young children moved into the five-bedroom, four bathroom (three en suite) Langworthy in 2003. Then, for a year, the whole family moved out again, so that full renovation work could be done on the right hand side of the house, which was desperately in need. 'Yes, we restored and renovated the place, but we did it without losing any of the fantastic original features,' says Dean. The impressive 53-foot reception hall still houses its original barrel-vaulted ceiling and the big period oak staircase is breath-taking in its beauty. Throughout Langworthy, the architraves, beams, doors and ceilings are all original and add to the welcoming feeling one gets from the house. 'There may be a lot of history here, but I haven't heard of any hauntings or anything.' says Dean. 'It would greatly surprise me if anyone had ever felt anything spooky here, because all we've ever felt is warmth. I put it down to all the big, heavy oak everywhere and the great open fireplaces.'
Which brings us to the Graham family's favourite room at Langworthy - the drawing room.
'We love spending time in this massive, but cosy room,' Dean goes on. 'The smell of the old oak is just fabulous - and at Christmas time with a big tree, covered in lights and a roaring fire on - you just can't beat it for real festive cheer. 'It almost has a Church-y feel to it, too, what with the old oak beams, the leaded light windows and the herringbone brick.' But it's the privacy and security of Langworthy's fully enclosed, walled grounds that have made the house so perfect for the Grahams' children. 'We're not overlooked by anyone, which is great. And we can let the kids play in the gardens without worrying that some intruder may have got in - they're perfectly safe and secure. And for us, it's the tranquillity, the peacefulness and the calm of the gardens that we'll really miss.'
Dean suspects it's one of the oldest living gardens around. 'The massive Magnolia tree is one hundred years plus, as are a lot of the flowers. There's a gorgeous scent wafting through the gardens - particularly when the old roses are out. And it looks so beautiful in the spring, when the tulips come into their own, too.'
But that's not all. Just when you're wondering whether the property could be any more desirable, you stumble upon a two-bedroom detached cottage with an open-plan reception with kitchen area, cloakroom, kitchen, bathroom and own garden. It's being sold as part of the Langworthy package and definitely adds to the overwhelming atmosphere of space, privacy and elegance.
Langworthy is a short walk from Holyport Village Green - an attraction itself, complete with a duck pond and two gorgeous 'olde worlde' public houses.
So if it's history, warmth and character you're after - with 21st century convenience on tap - you'd have to go a long way to top lovely Langworthy.
Langworthy is on the market for 1.7m. For more information call Savills Windsor on 01753 834 600.