Cut-price country living: Rent in the grounds of a country estate

Cut-price country living: Renting in the grounds of a country estate is affordable and can offer long-term security

  • Country estates are proving popular with those working from home
  • Tenants can rent a seven-bed house for the same price as a London flat
  • We speak to some of those who have made the move 

The once wise words, ‘Why on earth would you throw money away on rent when you could buy?’ have a hollow ring now, with so many people unable to afford to buy their own homes.

Some, though, are choosing to rent instead of being saddled with a mortgage.

And country estates are proving particularly popular among those looking to enjoy the countryside and work from home.

Idyllic: Pretty cottages on the Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire. country estates are proving popular among those looking to enjoy the countryside and work from home

Modern-day tenants are no longer required to work on the estate as part of a ‘tied’ arrangement, help out at grouse shooting events or doff their cap at the Lord of the Manor. 

And according to Savills estate agents, it is possible to rent a seven-bedroom manor house on a country estate for the same cost as a two-bedroom flat in SW1, London.

There are scores of country estates in England alone, many with up to 300 properties for rent. 

Tenancies tend to be secured after a six-month trial and then, if a contract is negotiated, the property can be a home for life.

Dr Marvin Firth, 37, moved into a cottage on the Overbury Estate in the hamlet of Conderton near Tewkesbury, Gloucester, with his partner Kane in August.

Previously, Marvin lived in a flat in South Kensington. While in the area for Kane’s work, they wondered what it would be like to live in the village after seeing a renovated Grade II-listed thatched cottage with two outbuildings for rent.

‘On the day we were due to be interviewed, my appendix ruptured,’ says Marvin. ‘It was a signal to slow down. We took the cottage and haven’t looked back.’

Marvin has rented out the London flat and the couple love their new home, which is worth at least £500,000, but will never be for sale.

They pay £975 a month and, while they are responsible for its decor, any repairs or structural works are done by the estate’s tradespeople. 

The estate is owned by Lady Penelope Bossom and her husband Bruce, who live between the Elizabethan manor house, Overbury Court, and London.

‘The estate has a real mix of people,’ says Marvin. ‘There’s a retired carpenter, cricket journalist, Pilates instructor and retired Armed Forces personnel. It’s like living in the middle of Thomas Hardy country.’

Former London dwellers Debbie and Mervyn King took on a derelict barn that is part of the Tissington Estate in Derbyshire in 2014.

They sold their B&B business and used the funds to renovate Darfield Barn, paying just a peppercorn rent to compensate them for the investment in the property. It will never be theirs, but they don’t care.

‘Mervyn has a son from a previous relationship and whatever is left will be his. We are happy with that,’ says Debbie, 58.

Former London party girl Angela Egan, 61, is embracing country life in a cottage on the Fitzwilliam Estate in Malton, Yorkshire, where she moved in 2015.

‘My house is gorgeous. It has four floors, but it is very narrow with small doors,’ says Angela.

‘To reflect that, I only pay £800 a month. As a middle-aged woman, I have more of a social life than I would in London.’

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