2008: 2,000 acres of entrancing history

A highly important 2,000-acre historic agricultural and sporting estate on the Purbeck coast is being offered for sale with a guide price of £25 million.

Encombe House is one of the most distinguished country houses in the South West, the original house being substantially remodelled and extended by John Pitt, the well-known Parliamentarian and amateur architect. In 1804 Encombe was purchased by the eminent lawyer, Lord Eldon, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who became Lord Chancellor in 1806. Anthony Salvin subsequently made some alterations for the Third Lord Eldon in the early 1870s.

The house has grown in scale over time through several phases of development principally by John Pitt, then MP for Wareham, after he inherited the property in 1735 on the death of his father, George Pitt of Stratfield Saye, later the seat of the Duke of Wellington. The structure of the central block dates from an earlier house that was the ancient seat of the Culliford family. The site previously formed part of a retreat of the Abbess of Shaftesbury for more than 500 years. The interior of Encombe consists of several large rooms including a dining room with an ornate plasterwork ceiling designed by John Pitt in the style of William Kent, large arched French windows and an elaborate fireplace. A door in the dining room leads to the colonnade that links the central part of the house to the east wing. The library, remodelled by Anthony Salvin, overlooks the gardens to the south and west and is regarded as one of his greatest achievements. The hall and the staircase in the centre of the house were remodelled by Anthony Salvin in 1870 and are thought to be part of the earlier Culliford house. Encombe’s former stables were also designed by John Pitt and have a central pavilion surmounted by a clock tower. Part of the stables were converted into a dining hall used for shooting lunch parties.

In his book In Search Of The Perfect House, Marcus Binney comments that the central chimney in the form of a triumphal arch was almost certainly designed by John Pitt. He also notes that, while many 18th century country houses consist of a grand centre flanked by lower wings, Encombe is like five almost identical classical houses joined together.

Both wings at Encombe have self-contained apartments while the east wing is arranged for use as an annexe or additional guest accommodation.

Current owners Mr and Mrs Charles McVeigh acquired Encombe in 2002 and have carried out an extensive award-winning restoration of the house and the formal grounds.

Encombe’s landscape is one of the finest in Britain with Grade II listed parkland surrounding the house which is approached by a long drive winding down from the head of the valley from the village of Kingston. In the grounds and set on the surrounding downs are a number of listed follies including an obelisk erected in 1835 in honour of Lord Stowell, the brother of Lord Eldon, and the grotto formed of large stone blocks laid to form a bridge with a labyrinth and alcove underneath. Other landscape features of special interest include Swyre Head, Houns Tout, Chapman’s Pool and St Aldhelm’s Head.

A well equipped livery stable has recently been created on the site of former farm buildings in the heart of the Golden Bowl, 1,000 acres at the heart of the estate which is totally private having no public right of access. Post and railed paddocks to the north and west of the yard provide grazing and exercise facilities, while there is excellent riding over the estate itself and the network of bridleways in the locality.

In addition to the main house, which includes two self-contained staff flats, there are 10 houses and cottages and a quantity of agricultural land. Apart from the Golden Bowl there are three other secluded coombes, each leading to the coast.

Encombe also has one of the finest high pheasant shoots in southern England and its land includes two-and-a-half miles of coastline designated as a World Heritage Site.

The estate has only changed hands five times in the last 1,100 years and Savills’ Alex Lawson, who is handling the sale, said: “Encombe is without doubt one of the most desirable estates in England and the sale will attract considerable interest from buyers worldwide. It is rare for a traditional family estate with a house and location of this calibre to come to the market. It is also highly unusual to find an estate that has an exceptional principal house in such good repair, together with an estate within a genuine ring fence, offered with over 2,000 acres.”

Mark McAndrew of Strutt and Parker said: “Turning in to the drive at Encombe and catching a first glimpse of the house nestling way below you makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It is an exceptional and entrancing place.”

The Encombe estate as a whole has a guide price of £25 million. More information is available from estate agents Savills on 0207 499 8644 and Strutt & Parker on 0207 629 7282.

Bournemouth Echo, Monday 22 September 2008

2008: Appeal for new house thrown out

A planning inspector has thrown out an appeal for a new house to be built in the grounds of a listed former church in the hilltop hamlet of Kingston near Corfe Castle.

When the plan came before the council architect Barry Chapman told councillors: “The proposed new house is intended for my eldest son, Jody, who has lived all of his life in the village of Kingston, and his fiancée, who without this proposal would have no prospect of purchasing a property on Purbeck.”

Mr Chapman won permission for the church to be converted into a house some 30 years ago. He urged councillors to back the application to demonstrate wholehearted commitment to encouraging young people being able to get homes in their local communities.

Councillors went to see the site in June 2007 and then backed their planners with a refusal.

Appeal inspector Olivia Spencer says the former church sits slightly outside the main group of properties and forms a part of the conservation area with its own distinctive character.

The new architect-designed two-storey house would be below the level of the church and have little impact on the street scene. However it would be clearly seen from a footpath and from another view would be the only village building to be seen.

She thought: “The resulting apparent extension of development would disrupt its green setting and that of the church.”

A minimal number of trees were proposed to be removed to make way for the new house.

However the inspector thought the small windows proposed on its southern side would lead to a gloomy interior which could lead future residents to press for the removal of more trees.

Published in Bournemouth Daily Echo, Saturday 20 September 2008

2008: The chance to take up Arms

The lease at The Scott Arms in Kingston, near Corfe Castle, is being offered by Christie & Co on behalf of Punch Taverns The Scott Arms is a character detached public house in an elevated position with outstanding views over Corfe Castle.

Internally the trading areas provide for over 100 customers while the garden has seating for over 200. The pub benefits from three-bedroom owner’s accommodation and a two-bedroom staff flat.

Tonya West, of Christie + Co, said that it represents a good opportunity for existing or aspiring retailers to operate a quality public house business.

In January 2006, Punch Taverns instructed Christie + Co to let approximately 650 pubs. Christie & Co is also offering leases at The Red Lion and The Black Dog in Weymouth.

Bournemouth Echo, Tuesday 16 September 2008

2007: Memorial to two plane tragedies

A memorial for the victims of two plane crashes has been unveiled at Purbeck.

An RAF Swordfish Mark One aircraft from RAF Gosport crashed near Corfe Castle on March 18, 1938, killing three people.

On June 15, 1945, an RAF Liberator Mark Four aircraft from RAF Transport Command’s 232 Squadron also crashed there, killing 27 passengers and crew.

Bournemouth Echo, Thursday 1 November 2007

2006: Motocross club saddened by farm bike ban

Organisers of a youth motocross club say they are shocked and saddened by the council’s decision to ban the use of motorbikes on a Purbeck farm.

Two clubs have now been kicked off West Hill Farm in Kingston by Purbeck District Council, despite being located in a 2,000-acre site and only held on Saturday afternoons.

One organiser, Vincent Page, of the Off-Road Promoters Association, says he carried out noise level tests to ensure there would be no impact on nearby houses. He said: “We did everything within the rules – we didn’t touch the land, we provided insurance and safety measures. The police are always asking for somewhere for young bikers to go, and this was perfect – it’s ridiculously remote. “Now these kids have nowhere and they’ll just go back on the streets where they are a nuisance.”

The clubs were set up in response to last year’s call by the Local Government Association to seize and crush nuisance mini-motos and hand out Asbos to the riders.

Ady Solomon, who ran a club at West Hill Farm until the council threatened enforcement action against him earlier this year, said: “We wanted somewhere for kids to go that was safe and out of people’s way. “We had all ages and backgrounds, and it was fantastic. But then the council stepped in, and their attitude has been disgusting.”

Purbeck planning board says it received “a considerable number of complaints” about noise and the “principle of allowing such activities in the Area of Outstanding Beauty”. Principal planning officer Alan Davies said: “Who knows how this thing might snowball in terms of car parking, physical and visual impact on the environment and noise? We are simply bringing it under council control. There are places that have planning permission in the area which they can use, with proper facilities, and if they want to submit a planning application it will be considered on its merits.”

The farmer who runs the land, Steve Fry, says none of the complaints actually came from Kingston residents and were drummed up because the council did not like the principle of the club.

Officers say the letters of complaint are private and chose not to discuss where they were from. The letters were not shown to the councillors on the planning board before they voted on the ban.

Bournemouth Daily Echo, Tuesday 12th September 2006

2005: Obituary: Violet Constance Naomi CHAPMAN

CHAPMAN VIOLET CONSTANCE NAOMI. Passed away peacefully at Alderney Hospital on February 20th 2005 aged 88 years. Much loved and missed Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. Funeral Service at St James’ Church, Kingston, Corfe Castle on Tuesday 1st March at 12.00 noon. Flowers may be sent to James Smith F/D, 60a Kings Road, Swanage. Tel (01929) 422445

Bournemouth Daily Echo – 26 February 2005

2004: Mourners fill church in tribute to popular priest

Hundreds of mourners packed into Kingston church to say their final farewells to a popular parish priest.

The Rev Robert Watton died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 59 just months after taking early retirement.

His eldest daughter Hannah, 20, said: “The church was full and people were standing out in the rain. We were really happy lots of people came as it makes you realise how much of an effect he had.”

Mr Watton spent 13 years as rector of the Parishes of the Purbeck Hills and was chairman of governors for St George’s First School at Langton Matravers. Up to 100 paintings by the school’s children, aged two to eight, were placed on display inside St James’s Church for his funeral. He retired for health reasons in October 2003 and at his new home near Exeter he had been enjoying walks on Dartmoor.

Churchwarden Don Pratt, who worked with Mr Watton for 11 years, said: “The news came as a shock, especially as Robert had been enjoying his retirement. Everyone was saddened and all send their condolences to Robert’s family, including his daughters Hannah, Jess, Susie and grandson Joshua. Robert was a faithful priest and touched the hearts of many by his care and ministry at baptisms, weddings and funerals. He will be long remembered in the villages, and with tourists through the popular summer services he developed at St Aldhelm’s Chapel.”

His funeral service was conducted by long-standing friends Canon Humphry York and Father Kenneth Noakes.

Bournemouth Echo, Thursday 19 August 2004

2004: Obituary: Reverend Robert N K WATTON

WATTON Revd ROBERT N K. Former Rector of Langton Matravers, Worth and Kingston. Died suddenly at home on 4th August 2004. Beloved Dad to Hannah, Jess, Susie and Grandad to Joshua. The Funeral will be held at St James Church, Kingston on 16th August at 2pm. A jubilant Service at Robert’s request, black is not necessary. Family flowers only please but donations for ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres UK’ may be sent to James Smith Funeral Directors, 60a Kings Road, Swanage. BH19 1HR. Tel 01929 422445.

Bournemouth Daily Echo, 11 August 2004

2004: Manor farm up for sale

Well-known Purbeck family, the Scotts, are selling an historic manor house they had planned to make their family home. Rupert Scott, who sold Encombe House, near Kingston, two years ago for a reported £16million, has now put Afflington Manor Farm on the market for an estimated £2.25million. Afflington Manor Farm, between Corfe Castle and Swanage, is a Grade II listed 17th-century manor house set in 360 acres.

The Scott family are believed to be dividing their time between Purbeck and the south of France. The family still owns a substantial amount of land in Purbeck along with a number of properties. Afflington Manor Farm had been the subject of heated debate among planning chiefs at Purbeck District Council over a complex set of proposals for alterations. Objections were raised over the cumulative effect of the alterations but, after months of negotiations, planning chiefs finally gave the go-ahead on plans which included building a swimming pool and converting pigsties into boiler and changing rooms.

The courtyard manor house is believed to date from 1620 but the building is currently stripped internally in preparation for a complete renovation.Some of the original features are still intact including flagstone floors, shuttered windows and exposed beams. The building had been extensively remodelled during Victorian times and little had changed since. More recently it was used as accommodation for farm workers. The sale is being handled by FPDSavills

Daily Echo (Bournemouth) published Friday 9 July 2004

2004: Victorian stairs to be ripped out

A Victorian staircase at an historic manor house in Purbeck is to be ripped out despite calls from conservationists that it should be saved. Purbeck district councillors approved the plan after a visit to Afflington Manor Farm at Corfe Castle, once an important property in the 17th century which oversaw the manor of Afflington. The grade II listed building has undergone alterations over the centuries but had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

It has been bought by the Scott family – former owners of Encombe estate which they sold in 2002 for a reported £16 million. A complex planning application seeking a series of alterations to Afflington Manor Farm had already been approved by Purbeck district’s planning committee. Planning chiefs have now agreed to a separate application seeking permission to remove a nineteenth century staircase to allow the creation of a void for new stairs to give the impression of a ‘grand hallway.’

The scheme was opposed by Purbeck district council’s conservation expert along with English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Conservationists argued that the staircase was worth preserving to show how the house had developed over the centuries. At a planning committee meeting to decide on the application, Cllr Fred Drane said: “It does not appear to me to be something of great importance. I would suggest we allow the staircase to be removed.”

Cllr Malcolm Shakesby said: “There is nothing in what we have got here that recommends me to think it’s worth preserving – it has got no beauty in my mind at all.” After hearing that English Heritage had not visited the house, Cllr Shakesby commented: “If English Heritage are going to make these sorts of decisions they should take the trouble to investigate it.”

Daily Echo (Bournemouth , Wednesday 3 March 2004