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The evolution of the country house

Charles Darwin spoke of natural selection, and Richard Dawkins said "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." Life has changed greatly since Winkworth first opened its doors Winkworth in 1835 on  Curzon Street, Mayfair — with a country office in Brighton.    Yet, the desire for a rural retreat, away from the pace of city life still remains, as does the appeal of country schools and country pursuits. Perhaps the biggest change is time, or the lack of it, despite all the labour-saving, energy-efficient improvements that make modern life what it is. A home in the country needs to be an escape but one that allows weekends full of enjoying entertaining guests, taking walks and relaxing in the fresh country air. But a weekend house also has to be quintessentially of the country.  A country pile with land is wonderful as a main home but for weekends, without staff, it is a full-time job.  Gardens and maintenance are all part of country house ownership but can be better kept on top of little and often, rather than through lost weekend blitz's. The majesty and joy of a period building cannot be denied but will not thank you for being left fallow for five days out of every seven.  They were designed to be lived in and maintained, if not by the owners, by the staff.

Charles Darwin spoke of natural selection, and Richard Dawkins said "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." Life has changed greatly since Winkworth first opened its doors Winkworth in 1835 on  Curzon Street, Mayfair — with a country office in Brighton.    Yet, the desire for a rural retreat, away from the pace of city life still remains, as does the appeal of country schools and country pursuits. Front poppies - resized Perhaps the biggest change is time, or the lack of it, despite all the labour-saving, energy-efficient improvements that make modern life what it is. A home in the country needs to be an escape but one that allows weekends full of enjoying entertaining guests, taking walks and relaxing in the fresh country air. Signpost - resized But a weekend house also has to be quintessentially of the country.  A country pile with land is wonderful as a main home but for weekends, without staff, it is a full-time job.  Gardens and maintenance are all part of country house ownership but can be better kept on top of little and often, rather than through lost weekend blitz's. 150701_CO_241 The majesty and joy of a period building cannot be denied but will not thank you for being left fallow for five days out of every seven.  They were designed to be lived in and maintained, if not by the owners, by the staff. 150701_CO_161-Edit-Edit In order to survive, the weekend house has to remain relevant.  It must be as appealing as its older rivals and sit equally well amongst its rural surrounds . However, it can also provide the same contemporary living that works so well in town.  It can be warm, energy-efficient and easy to live with, whilst providing the character and charm of a country cottage.  Outside spaces should seamlessly flow with open living rooms, allowing al fresco dining and somewhere to enjoy the bliss of a summer's afternoon.  Equally, they should not be burdensome but be an outdoors 'room' in those glorious months from May to September. 150701_CO_286-HDR The winter is an equally lovely in a country house, with bracing walks, afternoons spent on school touch lines and days in the sporting field.  The warmth of a real fire or underfloor heating in a newly built thatched house make for an appealing place to return to. 150701_CO_127-Edit Somewhere to work from home or for a relative to stay can make the difference between a weekend bolt hole and a home you can escape to for more than two nights a week. Front porch - resized Accessibility is also key.  Close enough to get you on a fast road east or west and a mainline railway within striking distance.  But quiet enough there is not the roar of road or rail noise. This balance is achieved at The Old Dairy, at the head of the Woodford valley in West Amesbury, offers over £1,100,000. 150701_CO_344-Edit Winkworth Salisbury    

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