The lake house, Hoe Gate
There has been a mill on this idyllic spot at Hoe Gate since the Domesday Book, and today Rudley Mill is a uniquely beautiful home with all the comforts of modern life, says Jill Belcher
For several years, Ian and Corina Voller lived in a cottage close to Rudley Mill at Hoe Gate, just outside the picturesque Hampshire village of Hambledon.“We got to know the former owners, Carol and Michael Bassett, and asked them to give us first refusal if they ever sold,” says Ian. “They had done a lot of work on the mill and spent a huge amount of money on it.” Eight years ago, Ian and Corina’s dream came true and the couple, who run the long-established Portsmouth-based quality corset company Vollers, moved in with their family. Since then, they have continued to upgrade and improve their gorgeous home, which is not listed, in a manner which is sympathetic to the mill’s original architecture.Approaching the mill, along country lanes and then the driveway which leads to a courtyard area beside the stable block and outbuildings, you are immediately aware of its secluded and peaceful setting. The mill’s entrance hall provides a place of welcome and warmth, with its wood-burning stove and beams.
The kitchenIan showed me into the kitchen, where we were joined by Corina, who explained that they had recently re-fitted the spacious beamed room, with its Aga and Travertine marble tile floor, and built on the orangery which has French doors to the gardens. It provides a wonderfully light entertaining space, where family and guests dine on beautiful and eye-catching wooden furniture, made in Thailand from recycled agricultural equipment. There is also a cloakroom and a utility room on the ground floor. The dining roomDoors lead from both the orangery and the hall to the dining room, which looks out onto the front of the house and is a more formal entertaining area. “We took the ceiling down to expose the beams and we exposed two of the walls,” Ian explains.From the entrance hall there is a door to the ‘snug’, now used as a study but which would have been the original sitting room of the mill house. It has a fireplace and stairs down to a small flat, which has a separate entrance, sink, hob and bathroom.“This would be ideal for an au pair or relative or to be let to someone,” says Ian.More stairs from the snug lead up to the original working part of the mill, where there is now a spacious, beamed drawing room with an open fireplace, windows to the front of the house and French doors to the large terrace at the rear. “We have a 15ft deep lake in the grounds from about November time from the springs,” says Ian. “You can see it from the French windows. It would have driven the mill and the mill wheel was beyond the outer wall of this room.” The bedroomsUpstairs is the original master bedroom, with its dressing room and en-suite bathroom. “Carol and Michael put this into one bedroom but we have been planning to divide it back into two and then there will be four bedrooms upstairs,” Ian explains.There is a further bedroom and another bathroom, before you mount the stairs to the new master bedroom, which has a huge ‘wow’ factor.Once the top of the original mill, accessible only by an external staircase, this magnificent room has beams, skylights and a balcony looking out over the rear of the grounds and the lake. Wheels which used to hoist the grain are still to be seen in the wall and ceiling. There is an en-suite attached to this room.“This bedroom and in fact the whole house is very light and airy,” says Corina. “Every window in this house looks onto a view, there are no public footpaths and no electric pylons.”
The groundsSet in grounds of about nine-and-a-half acres and with a stable block, paddocks, gardens, lake and woodland, this is a home which feels as though it has been here forever and, in a way, it has.“There has been a mill here on this site, because of the freshwater spring, since the Doomsday Book,” explains Ian.Described in Hampshire Treasures as circa 17th century, it is believed that the present mill ground its last corn around the start of World War Two.“The house is in the middle of the plot and there are gates leading onto lanes, ideal for horses, but it is now too big for us,” Ian explains. “Our sons, Jack and Michael, are now 17 and 15 and growing up and we are planning to downsize.“We think it is a really nice and unusual house, houses like this don’t come around very often, and we feel very, very privileged to have been able to enjoy it.”Rudley Mill in Hambledon, �1,499,000 through Hamptons International, Liphook, 01428 722031.