There are 27 years of memories in this substantial smallholding in Kent, and it's a privilege to bring this remarkable property to the market.
Colts Hill Oast has been the family home of Mr and Mrs F. who, like some of their neighbours, hail from London and took that natural step way-back-when to seek a greener life, but one that was comfortably commuter-friendly: a particular requirement of Mr F who, for many years after moving here continued to, work in London.
"We weren't actually looking for an oast house, we just knew that we wanted something a little different,” says Mr F. “Even though this was a complete project, as soon as we stepped foot inside the entrance hall (via a scaffold board for a bridge), we just knew it would work. We hadn't even seen inside the apple store and the 16th-century barn at this point, but it had the garden we required as well that really lent itself to family life".
The ensuing refurbishment involved the major renovation of all the buildings and, in time, the field next door was purchased as well, adding approximately 5 acres to the original inventory of 1.5 and ramping up the social aspect of living here. The field, which has also hosted livestock over the years, provides a fabulous venue for all sorts of private family functions, from mini festivals to weddings with guest lists of more than 170 people. And if you're into mindfulness, try standing here late into the evening to enjoy the lack of light pollution – it's given the owners a wonderful opportunity to really admire the stars at night.
This typically Kentish building isn’t an unfamiliar site across the county, but it still draws attention and the home offers simply flawless family accommodation, extending to around 2400 sq ft. The ground floor has been extensively refurbished over the years; the two roundels either side of the entrance house a kitchen – a favourite room of Mr F with its access to that glorious sweeping garden – and there's a dining room on the other side.
Heading back through the house via the reception hall, you'll see a great-sized utility room on your left and, a short distance along the hallway, a guest cloakroom on the right just before you enter the beamed living room with doors out to the garden. The glorious oversized wood burner makes ‘cosy’ an understatement here, even though it's something of a formal room. That's because a door at the back opens into a family snug where you can watch TV and a hide away to relax with a good book.
The first floor is just as characterful, with original exposed beams everywhere. The principal bedroom located above the living area has a beautiful vaulted ceiling, views to the front and back, an en-suite bathroom, and a deep built-in wardrobe. Along with the family bathroom, two of the three bedrooms on this floor are in the original oast, so you can enjoy the prospect of furnishing and decorating two completely circular rooms. The elevated position gives much of the upper floor spectacular views across the grounds and beyond.
Detached from the main house across the crunchy gravel driveway, the apple store is divided into two sections, both with their own access. The left-hand side is a large studio or office room that was once used as a bakery, but now, empty of equipment, lends itself to all manner of business use. To the right, there's a sizeable and supremely private self-contained one-bedroom house, ideal for parents, teenagers and visitors, or possibly an Airbnb. It’s another vaulted affair in the open plan living room; the large wood burner flue stretches up to the apex and the room features a spiral staircase to a snug/office.
Set at the front of the grounds, you can’t miss this imposing building as you enter through the front gate, and it’s a little piece of history on its own. The dark timbers of the exterior and the large entrance open into a cavernous space that's a playground for tinkering, or housing anything from cars to tractors. It’s the inside where you really appreciate the history: some of the original beams stand proudly propping up the wonderful structure, and the recent roof replacement ensures this barn will continue to be of use.
In all there are around 6.5 acres, with 1.5 of these serving the houses. Along with the renovations carried out to the buildings, many improvements have been made to the grounds. An outdoor pool has made way for a sheltered lower patio that sits alongside a gazebo, complete with a log-burning fire and additional seating. Once the stove is in full swing, this area makes an almost year-round room and has been known to cater gatherings as late in the year as Christmas Day!
If you're a fan of the outdoor lifestyle, living in this part of England will feel particularly special. No corner of Kent would be complete without exceptional pubs, and the owners make the mini pilgrimage to the Poacher & Partridge and George and Dragon in Tudeley, and to Halfway House near Matfield. Tumeric Gold is the ‘go-to’ for exceptional Indian food. For something really special, the Hush Heath Winery is a true experience. You can explore the estate, eat great food and of course taste some of the best sparkling wines to come out of the UK.
The area is surrounded by shopping on every scale. Paddock Wood hosts a Waitrose, a number of local shops plus a department store. Larger retail outlets plus a cinema and bowlplex are also close by in Tunbridge Wells. The trains from Paddock Wood Station are direct to London.
If your retail therapy is more a boutique kind of thing, historic town of Royal Tunbridge Wells is a few mins in a car and along with its shopping centre hosts, “The Pantiles”, a charming parade to find interesting gifts and more and the main high street, packed with destination restaurants.
As you’d expect, there are many walks on the doorstep that take in some incredible scenery. One of these leads to the church in Tudeley Village, well-known for its magnificent stained glass windows designed by artist, Marc Chagall.
Five Oaks Green