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3 Bedroom flat Church Way, Ecton £429,000

The exceptional, three bedroom apartment is set within splendid, historic Ecton Hall, offering spacious, elegant living, within a truly magnificent setting

Looking out over Ecton Hall’s extensive parkland, Christopher Kelly still recalls the very first time he walked into his apartment nine years ago. “After coming back from Australia in 2010, I was looking for a property to buy close to London,” he recalls. “I was keen for something with space and my brother-in-law suggested Northamptonshire. We looked at lots of different places but this one just blew me away. It was completely different from everything else I had seen – I remember coming into the drawing room and thinking it was big enough to play cricket in!” The impressive apartment was well-proportioned and was unusual in that it offered three double bedrooms. “It had been beautifully converted and had the most stunning views,” he adds.

Surrounded by exquisite communal gardens, and with access to picturesque countryside, Ecton Hall is a spectacular Grade II* Listed building. With 16th century origins, it is believed to have been in the hands of just three families since the Norman Conquest. It is thought the Montgomery family were presented with the estate by William the Conqueror and held it until 1575. It was then owned by one Thomas Catesby, whose descendants sold it the Isteds in 1712. It remained in the hands of the Isteds and their kinsmen the Sothebys until the mid 20th century, when it stood empty until its redevelopment in the 1980s. It was Ambrose Isted who redeveloped Ecton Hall in 1756 in a Strawberry Hill Gothic style, using golden-brown sandstone from a quarry at Mears Ashby. It was later extended in 1889 for Sotheby family. Among its many claims to fame is the fact that literary great Samuel Johnson is said to have visited in 1764.
Set on the second floor of the magnificent building, Christopher’s luxury apartment retains much of its original grandeur, while also providing a high degree of contemporary comfort. It is accessed via a communal reception hall and then a lift. Steps from the private, internal entrance hall, where there is a cloakroom, lead down into an inner hall. To the right, this opens into the capacious drawing room, which features an elegant fireplace and is filled with streaming sunshine. “This is a stunning room, with incredible views,” he says. “There is space in here for sofas, a dining table and chairs, which are great for dinner parties, and a study area for when I choose to work in here instead of in my office.”
The large, well-equipped kitchen can be accessed from the drawing room, as well as from the hall. All three bedrooms have built-in wardrobes and the master bedroom benefits from an en suite shower room. There is also a family bathroom. “The balance of accommodation here is really very good,” he observes. “I use my third bedroom as an office and enjoy looking out over the gardens as I work.” From the apartment, there are far-reaching views beyond the grounds, across pasture and woodland. “There are often sheep grazing out in the fields,” he adds. “It is all very English, which – coming from Australia – was exactly what I was looking for.”
Christopher has enjoyed the balance of country living and convenience the property has afforded him. “There are lots of places to walk in the area and the whole village is in a conservation area. There is a 17th century church next-door and Ecton itself has a lot of history.” The village is a place of pilgrimage for many Americans as Benjamin Franklin’s ancestors lived here for over 300 years. Several generations of the family were village blacksmiths, working on a site where the Three Horseshoes now stands. “This is an idyllic place to live and yet it is also within easy reach of supermarkets, shopping areas and gyms, as well as Northampton. It takes just 15 minutes to reach the station, with trains into London, and then the journey is just 50 minutes. It is also easy to travel to Birmingham.”
Now relocating for reasons of work, Christopher admits he will miss his quintessentially English home, with all its space, history and grandeur. “Living here is like being in a little bubble: you can enjoy your privacy if you choose or you can join in with events, such as the summer and Christmas parties,” he says. “Everyone else who lives here is very friendly.” He adds: “I will miss everything about being here when I leave. It has been a fabulous place to live.”

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