Located in a quiet town nestled in the Sussex Downs north of London, Gerrards Cross is one of Britain’s most spectacular towns. It’s home to an ancient parish church, most of the churchyard has been cleared for housing and a 17th century English Tudor building at the heart of the town has been renovated. Gerrards Cross’ only historic stone home, Alms House, is also being used as a boutique hotel, a shop and guest house and is hosting more than 400 people a night.
It’s easy to see why Gerrards Cross’ famously aristocratic former owner, Lady Kensington Hughenden, now known as Lady Teddy Hodges-Endicott, built Alms House in 1760. Her house was originally inspired by William Pitt the Younger’s house in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Grade II listed building featured work by leading English architects Richard Tebbit and Charles Beaumont, a nursery and a dining room complete with separate servants’ kitchen and pantry area. When the Edwardian-era Kensington Hughenden sold her second husband, Lord Berwick Hughenden to another aristocrat the 65-year-old gave her wealth to what she hoped would be the creation of a palatial country house.
But Alms House was forced to close during World War II and was only opened to the public in 1959. It was always thought of as a wreck but in 2018 local people are set to pay millions to save it from demolition as part of a new community project.
A Historic House
It’s open to the public in the evenings but the rest of the time it is self-catering for up to 16 guests. It’s the latest in a series of successful Alms House conversions by Alms House Wiltshire who are turning them into luxury homes. Alms House Michael James Cuthbertson, has already been chosen as the perfect setting for a luxury hotel and has other offers on the table from other business people for apartments. It’s expected the sale of Alms House will take place later this year.
Kensington Hughenden died in 1979. Her two children died in the subsequent fire but two grandchildren have continued the family tradition of seeking to create the perfect family home. Touring Alms House to see how this fairy-tale building was restored is a truly magical experience.
The cave rooms are utterly enchanting and it was very easy to imagine they were magical since they were still making use of lights on all the window screens. The French windows in each window protected the ceiling of the cage room and the windows outside the cage were used for light and added to the sense of mystery.
These rooms make Alms House that much more magical and you will find yourself dreamily watching movies on the sofa as you gaze out onto the garden from the bedroom.
Surrounded by The Good Life
All of Alms House is surrounded by lush green trees and mature hedges and it’s a truly idyllic setting. The home has a pool and decking area that provides views of the countryside and the 21-metre swimming pool filled with chlorinated water.
The main summer house is spacious, comfortable and has four bedrooms. At night the terrace in the pool house has a long window into the garden and downstairs you can relax with a glass of wine in the cosy rooms. There is also a gymnasium/recreational area, terraced gardens, fruit trees and a barn-cum-office space.
Inside the summer house is decorated with fittings provided by the 1980s furnishings house-owner James Heemanson and is furnished with unbreakable medical alarm buttons.
It’s all in keeping with the charm and indulgence of the surrounding countryside, which has its own public car park, a cycle hire service, and set-out cricket nets. All of which make it a particularly good choice for the modern nomad.