Property of the Day: Watergate House, Fordwich, Canterbury

This five-bedroom manor house in a riverside setting has a private boat launch and landscaped meadows

THE PROPERTY: The Grade II-listed Watergate House was originally the manor house of Fordwich, England’s smallest town. It has been exquisitely restored and modernised by the current owners over two decades. The 1.4-acre gardens were designed by the present owner, a medal winner at RHS Chelsea. Enclosed completely by ancient walls, they are secluded from the village street, with a green oak pergola echoing a monastic cloister. Inside are traditionally defined areas of formal gardens, woodland and a vegetable-growing area. Two original iron gates lead out onto the river terrace, from which boats are easily launched. Across the river two sensitively landscaped meadows are planted with specimen-trees and meadow flowers. Plans have been approved for the construction of an artist’s studio, though a garden extension or a paddock would also make a superb addition.

THE LOCATION: To the north east of Fordwich lies Canterbury, with its extensive leisure and shopping opportunities and good schools. From the nearby village of Sturry there is a rail service connecting to the high-speed service from Canterbury West to London St Pancras, which takes just under an hour.

THE INTERIOR: Arranged over three floors, the 5,858-square-foot house is formally entered through the gothic eastern door, which leads to a long hallway, tiled in 16th-century stone. This gives access to a generously proportioned dining-room with fine period features, and a drawing-room offering delightful view of the village church. The large kitchen and breakfast-room opens directly into the centre of the gardens. The older west wing comprises a traditional family kitchen and boot-room, a snug and a beautifully panelled sitting-room. A modern oak staircase rises to the first floor, where the panelled master bedroom features a wall painting that has been restored by an expert from Canterbury Cathedral and the guest bedroom suite reveals original Jacobean wall paintings. The dual-aspect library provides an elegant space at the heart of the home beside a third bedroom. From the eastern staircase the second floor has two more bedrooms, as well as a further bathroom and the studio – a large, bright space with high ceilings. 

WHY WE LOVE IT: Watergate House holds an English Heritage blue plaque on account of its historical and architectural significance. Belonging to St Augustine’s Abbey during Saxon times, it saw the Caen stone from Normandy travel past by river on its way to rebuild Canterbury Cathedral and in 1943 it featured in the classic Powell & Pressburger film A Canterbury Tale

BUY IT NOW: £2,500,000 with Strutt and Parker

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