I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas home tour today around Surrey England. I visited five very different houses with the oldest built in 1640. Each house was charming in its own way, but I was impressed by the two oldest homes and how nicely they have been restored. The British take great pride in restoring their oldest buildings, preserving the original architectural beauty while bringing them up to modern standards.
A few months ago I don’t think I would have completed this tour on my own. I had to drive a fair distance between the houses, in and out of little villages and on and off the large motorways. Sounds easy to me in the U.S. but it is a little more complicated here. Both Lance and I have gotten much more comfortable with our driving. We have also learned to trust the Sat Nav in the car. We just plug in the post code with the town and street name, and it always gets us there. The challenge is not to over think it. Sometimes it takes us in completely the opposite direction to catch the motorway or go around a congested village, but in the end we always reach the destination. So today, I just plugged in the coordinates and off I went.
Home tours always have the most amazing houses. The first was originally built in 1640 as a hunting lodge and then rebuilt again in the 1740s. Now take a closer look at this house. It’s not what I would imagine as a 350 year old hunting lodge?!
The property around the home was lovely with two deer grazing away on the grass in front. The current owners are related to the Guinness family and purchased the home nine years ago. It had not been lived in for 30 years prior. This house had so many rooms it was hard to think of what they could be used for.
I loved this room with the large round table that seats 8 for dinner.
House 2 was a recently built house on a golf course. Sounds very American, but it had a few definite British twists. My two favorites were the fireplace in the entry way which greeted you right as you walked in the front door, and also this little surprise in the center of the house. This is the best way to have a pool in England. You never have to worry about the rain or cold and you can swim year ’round. This house had grand features but was a comfortable family home, plus they had a Chocolate Lab puppy that was just too cute.
I also appreciated the lovely sitting garden to the side of the house.
The fourth house was middle-aged at around 120 years old. Interestingly it was set right on the street which is common for homes of this era. Horse drawn carriages could drive right up to the back door of the house for deliveries. The original front door now leads into their back garden; the entrances have traded purposes. This house was much smaller but had been nicely updated to make good use of the space.
Last but not least was a home that was being sold by the American owner. She had just completed a significant remodel and was going to return to the U.S. The entry way originally had a two-sided staircase which they simplified to expand the space.
They also had this great sky light in their sunroom. Sunrooms or conservatories are very common in England even on small simple homes. Sunshine is a precious commodity and we want to soak up every bit of warmth.
Originally I planned to write two posts, one on the Christmas decorations and another on the architecture, but I quickly learned that the British decorate for Christmas very subtly, not a lot of collections or over the top rooms. Each room simply had a few Christmas items to not over shadow the beauty of the house. I also want to point out that each of these homes was very warm. The older houses have fireplaces in most rooms and they all felt cozy despite their size.
The slide show below has many more pictures. The photos from each house should be grouped together. Enjoy!