Country Hideaway With Vivid Past

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WOTTON-UNDER-EDGE, ENGLAND -- Rumor has it that when King Edward II was murdered in 1327, one of the conspirators, Baron Thomas de Berkeley, escaped blame by claiming he was visiting Bradley Court.

Now, as then, Bradley Court is a fine hideaway. It is on the scarp that slips from the gentle countryside of the Cotswolds toward the River Severn, 20 miles, or 32 kilometers, south of Bristol, near the village of Wotton-under-Edge and down the road from Highgrove House, home to Prince Charles.

The sales listing says that behind its hefty oak door are three living areas and a kitchen-cum-breakfast room. Downstairs, there are cellars. Up, there are a master bedroom, five other bedrooms and three bathrooms. Up again, there are offices tucked away under the eaves. Outside, there are gardens amounting to 9.09 acres, or 3.68 hectares, workshops and two apartments in a coach house.

Those are the facts, but they do not capture the romance of the place -- both its history and the current owners' décor, which combines solid elm floors and studded doors with formal portraits and a cherub-festooned 16th-century mirror they discovered in Vicenza, Italy, and a grand 18th-century fireplace that was found in pieces in a nearby cellar.

The asking price is £3 million, or $4.8 million; furnishings are not included.

(The most recent figures, released in July by the real estate agency Knight Frank, show that the value of prime country property in Britain fell in the second quarter for the fifth consecutive quarter, bringing values at end-June to 4.8 percent less than the same point in 2011.)

The house that the baron visited was built in 1209 and replaced in the 16th century with a Tudor building, which was expanded in 1790 with the addition of a graceful Georgian wing.

Today, the manor faces the world with a simple, almost austere, elegance -- much like that seen in a 1710 engraving that hangs in the house and that the owners plan to leave as an inspiration for the buyer. Two polygonal towers stand on either side of a gabled front porch; the walls are lime-washed in a mellow yellow, without the softening touch of ivy or climbing roses.

That spare aesthetic changes indoors, which has been maintained carefully by the current owners, the furniture designer Thomas Messel, 61, and his wife, Pepe, 57, a painter.

The Tudor portion of the house, which originally was one large hall stretching the entire length of the building with a single staircase to the upper floor, is now divided into a dining room that is almost 24 feet by 17 feet, or 7.3 meters by 5.2 meters; a library; and a small armory lined with swords and flintlocks.

The kitchen was once a collection of small rooms but now totals almost 30 feet by 18 feet, improved with the help of Mr. Messel's cousin, the Earl of Snowdon, the photographer and former husband of the late Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

"After one lunch he said, 'Give me a sledgehammer, and I'll sort out the kitchen. It's something I have always wanted to do,"' recalled Mr. Messel, who bought Bradley Court 30 years ago.

Now a total of three spiral staircases lead to the five bedrooms upstairs, all quirkily connected to one another with steps and short corridors and filled with four-poster beds and fireplaces.

On the ground floor at the rear of the house is the Georgian drawing room, with its intricate cornicing and 14-foot sash windows. They look out onto the gardens, which are sectioned by old dry stone walls. There are lawns for croquet and bowling, an arboretum of rare trees planted by Mrs. Messel, a sheltered wall garden and floral borders.

The grounds also feature a ha-ha, a trench that separates the gardens from the countryside without affecting the view, and a gazebo made of bricks fired in Tudor times that the English Heritage organization has listed as being of special historical interest.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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