Real homes - Hampshire

You can step back to the Elizabethan age in the tranquil surroundings of Higher End Cottage, with its breathtaking views across the New Forest National Park, says Jill Belcher

For half a millennium, Higher End Cottage has looked out over the rolling Hampshire countryside from its elevated position, in a secluded part of the New Forest.Tucked away, up a winding no-through rural lane, this Grade II Listed home, with its beautiful classic Elizabethan exterior, was used as a rectory for 150 years, from the 17th to 18th century.Close to Higher End Farm in the hamlet of Hale, it was part of the Breamore Estate when it was sold to Mrs Dorothy Case and her husband 55 years ago.Current owner Nancy Storry Deans recalls, “Mrs Case told me that her husband had been in the merchant navy and she had always wanted a quiet English cottage. She bought the cottage from Sir Westrow Hulse and I was told she paid �5,000 for it in 1955.“Sir Westrow put on a lean-to addition to make the bathroom and kitchen and I suspect he had the porthole put in the kitchen window for her husband as it’s like a ship’s porthole.”Mr and Mrs Case’s son, David, made full use of the cottage’s one-and-a-half acres of grounds. “He was into water garden plants, he specialised in water lilies and he even wrote a book about it,” Nancy explains. “He ran Higher End Nursery from here.”Sadly, he died from motor neurone disease when his mother was aged 90 and Mrs Case passed away in 2007, in her 100th year. New Forest idyllFormer nurse Nancy, who moved to the UK from Toronto, Canada in 1984, got to know Mrs Case when she became her carer three years ago.“I looked after her for only seven-and-a-half weeks and she left me her cottage,” Nancy explains. She says she was astonished at the bequest and has spent the last three years working on the house and, particularly, the garden.“It is idyllic,” she says as we sit on the terrace, enjoying the cottage’s peaceful situation. “You can only hear the birds and the sunsets are amazing from here because this faces south-west. Stargazing at night is wonderful because there are no lights.”The cottage still retains part of the original 1955 classic English Rose kitchen, and other units have been preserved in one of the outbuildings. The kitchen itself has views over the lawned rear gardens, which include a pond where a pair of ducks have made their home, and there is also a utility room.The beamed dining room, which has an Aga, is now home to Nancy’s own furniture. She has interior design experience and she has painted some items to blend with the traditional atmosphere of the room.The sitting room, also beamed, has a mixture of her furniture and some of Mrs Case’s items and there is an open fireplace. There is also a downstairs bathroom and utility room.A beautiful oak staircase, much of it original, leads to the first floor, where there is a double-aspect master bedroom with gorgeous views, a guest room with a recess cupboard which could possibly be made into a bathroom/shower room, subject to consent in this Listed building, and a third bedroom.

Making groundsIn the late 1940s, Nancy says, a tree fell on the cottage roof and the thatch was replaced with tiles. Outside there is a large greenhouse, garage, store and workshop as well as a shed and plenty of parking.Higher End Cottage's situation, high up in the National Park, is enviable and its grounds are large for such a relatively small property. Nancy has worked hard on the garden, which had stayed relatively unaltered from the days when it was a nursery, and it has taken up a lot of her time.“When I moved in there were flowerbeds everywhere,” she says. “It has taken me three years to get this far with the garden. I have had three years of heaven here, and it is desperately hard to leave it, but I work as a carer full-time and I just don’t have the time to spend on it.”Higher End Cottage, Hale, Fordingbridge, is on the market with a guide price of �650,000 through Knight Frank, Winchester, 01962 850333.

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