Finding the right house has never been easy. Typically, it means kissing swampfuls of frogs before one finally compromises, moves in and, with a little or a great deal of TLC, ultimately coaxes out the promised prince. On rare occasion, though, there is a house that has waited patiently, perhaps through the centuries, for one fairytale owner – and suddenly it’s mutual love at first sight. Such a house is Downs View

In the kitchen old French zinc-topped garden potting table makes superb six-foot preparation table and distressed French cupboard stands nearby.

In the kitchen old French zinc-topped garden potting table makes superb six-foot preparation table and distressed French cupboard stands nearby.

The kitchen has a traditional feel. An old French zinc-topped garden potting table makes a superb six-foot preparation table and a distressed French cupboard stands nearby

The kitchen has a traditional feel. An old French zinc-topped garden potting table makes a superb six-foot preparation table and a distressed French cupboard stands nearby

Veronica was looking not only for a home for herself and her four children but also for a large and much-loved painting of the Annunciation

Veronica was looking not only for a home for herself and her four children but also for a large and much-loved painting of the Annunciation

In the drawing room, the fireplace sports a wood burner and is flanked by two six-foot classical plaster columns. “OK, they’re a bit camp,” admits Veronica, “ but I love them and I think they work.”

In the drawing room, the fireplace sports a wood burner and is flanked by two six-foot classical plaster columns. “OK, they’re a bit camp,” admits Veronica, “ but I love them and I think they work.”

Fascinating collections of trinkets and sculptures adorn surfaces throughout the house

Fascinating collections of trinkets and sculptures adorn surfaces throughout the house

When Veronica bought the property, the hall and drawing room floors had been relaid in modern parquet. “I kept it in the hallway but it was too much in the drawing room so I covered it with seagrass.”

When Veronica bought the property, the hall and drawing room floors had been relaid in modern parquet. “I kept it in the hallway but it was too much in the drawing room so I covered it with seagrass.”

The spacious landing is home to some of Veronica’s eclectic collection of books

The spacious landing is home to some of Veronica’s eclectic collection of books

A tiny secret bedroom is hidden behind a curtain on the landing

A tiny secret bedroom is hidden behind a curtain on the landing

The centrepiece of Veronica’s anteroom-cum-dressing-room-cum-office is a terrific, perhaps French dressing table with flower motifs

The centrepiece of Veronica’s anteroom-cum-dressing-room-cum-office is a terrific, perhaps French dressing table with flower motifs

The walls in the bedroom are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Light Blue and the light brown and white unglazed curtains Veronica found in St Tropez. At the foot of the bed, by the window, stands an elegant white sofa

The walls in the bedroom are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Light Blue and the light brown and white unglazed curtains Veronica found in St Tropez. At the foot of the bed, by the window, stands an elegant white sofa

Warmth is provided by natural stripped floorboards and a beautiful little Welsh glass-fronted dresser, home to Veronica’s collection of seashells.

Warmth is provided by natural stripped floorboards and a beautiful little Welsh glass-fronted dresser, home to Veronica’s collection of seashells.

The busy vegetable patch, fenced against the voracious local bunnies, brims with produce

The busy vegetable patch, fenced against the voracious local bunnies, brims with produce

The garden itself has something of Secret Walled Garden about it with a shady maple in pride of place and beyond it the lawn rolls down to willows weeping over a stream

The garden itself has something of Secret Walled Garden about it with a shady maple in pride of place and beyond it the lawn rolls down to willows weeping over a stream

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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