18th Century Elegance And Some 6,500sq Ft Of Space With Views Over The Citadel Of Rye

The Victorian elegance of Mountsfield House stands in stark contrast to the town’s history of smuggling and piracy.

Some 20-odd miles to the south of Bewl Water, the historic Cinque Port of Rye stands at the confluence of three rivers — the Rother, the Tillingham and the Brede — where the high land of the Weald reaches the coast. In medieval times, Rye was an important port for the shipment of Wealden iron. It was later a haunt of smugglers, who met in the town’s Mermaid Inn until, in the late 18th century, the notorious Hawkhurst Gang was finally dispersed and its members hanged.

The extremely pleasant drawing room.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the town was much favoured by writers, playwrights, artists and musicians. Today, its location on the edge of Romney Marsh, less than two miles from the sea, ensures that it remains one of the remotest and least populated areas of South-East England.

Now that’s a proper dining room.

For Christia, Lady Ampthill, who, in 1998, bought one of the town’s landmark houses, Grade II-listed Mountsfield House on Rye Hill, from the owner of the Mermaid Inn, Rye is quite simply ‘the ideal place to live’. Mountsfield House, now for sale through Will Peppitt of Savills at a guide price of £3.95m, was built in 1776 by Thomas Phillips Lamb, who was MP for Rye and the son of Thomas Lamb, a long-time mayor of the town, who lived at Mountsfield Lodge next door. In the early 1800s, the house was owned by the South Eastern Railway company, which billeted workers there before selling in 1849 to a Mr Plomley, who removed the top storey when putting the house back in order.

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The light and spacious kitchen, with the new orangery to the rear.

Mountsfield House had been on the market for years and was in dire need of renovation when Lady Ampthill moved in and embarked on a root-and-branch programme of repair and modernisation. She also created the property’s 2½ acres of lovely gardens and grounds, including the secluded walled garden, which is a particular source of delight; local designers were commissioned to create a large orangery to improve the original kitchen and the back of the house.

The property viewed from above, with Lady Ampthill’s manicured gardens and the garden flat visible in the top left.

Approached along a tree-lined drive, the house stands on the outskirts of the historic hilltop town with views towards the citadel of Rye. Originally timber-frame with mathematical tiles to create the illusion of a grand, brick-built house, it later saw the addition of stone and stucco details and porches. Mountsfield House offers some 6,500sq ft of elegant, well-planned living space, including four main reception rooms, six bedrooms and six bathrooms. Further accommodation is available in the two-bedroom garden flat and the converted stables.

Mountsfield House is for sale with Savills for £3.95 million. For more information and pictures, click here

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