The idea of owning a country estate is often better imagined than reality. It’s a bit like having a yacht – sure, it might look lovely, but it costs a fortune to maintain and staff.
But there is a very different kind of second-home ownership currently being masterminded in the Cotswolds.
Imagine owning a 550-acre estate, with numerous lakes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and an astroturf football pitch. You’ll have a five-bed lakeside house with views across an official site of scientific interest. You don’t need to worry about maintaining the gardens or the house, as the whole thing will be managed for you.
Let’s say the wood runs out in your home’s log burner. Well, a groundsman can drop a new bag round to you in minutes.
You don’t need to be on the Sunday Times Rich List to have a slice of this, either. At Lower Mill Estate, the whole idea is to give you access to a country estate without any of the headaches. Indeed if you buy a home here you can rent it out with a return of up to 8%.
The homes are a testament to the notion of sustainable living, built by Conservation Builders. Think renewable timber, rainwater harvesting, and organic living roofs.
Keel House is the embodiment of open-plan living: the groundfloor flows seamlessly from kitchen to dining to living rooms areas
You don’t have to buy one to experience this lifestyle. We stayed at Keel House to get a flavour. Based on a Cotswolds barn, the contemporary home is one of the many different styles you can choose from on the site.
Keel House is the embodiment of open-plan living: the groundfloor flows seamlessly from kitchen to dining to living rooms areas.
In the centre is a long dining room table positioned directly beneath a three-storey atrium. At the top is an asymmetrical glass roof, which allows natural light to flood the space – or, in the evening, a window to the stars.
The entire lakeside half of the house is essentially a wall of glass, every room enjoying floor-to-ceiling views. Two of the guest rooms also share a terrace that’s perfect for sundowners.
If the weather is being predictably unpredictable, then you might be better off at the on-site spa
And then there’s the wider estate. How about a leisurely walk immersed in nature, where you can spot everything from rare great-crested grebes to beavers (brought back to the English countryside by the Estate in 2005)? Or, for a more active exploration, rent a mountain bike or kayak across one of the beautiful lakes.
You could even grab a paddle board if you want to look like one of the beautiful people in the brochures.
If the weather is being predictably unpredictable, then you might be better off at the on-site spa enjoying the steam room or a massage. It’s what a Lord would do, after all.
The Lower Mill concept is an enticing one: all the appeal of being part of the landed gentry, without the crucifying bills, red trousers or double-barrelled names.
For rentals: habitatescapes.com
For buying: lowermillestate.com