THROUGHOUT the Staffordshire countryside there are fine homes of four, five or more bedrooms that have one thing in common – very humble beginnings.
Dotted across the landscape, in villages and down shady country lanes are houses that these days find themselves in the half-a-million pound bracket, but which were once the modest dwellings of ordinary country folk - farm workers, shepherds and, of course, gamekeepers.
“There’s a gamekeeper’s cottage hidden in there somewhere,” says Maxine Reid, owner of Keepers Cottage in Rock Lane, Standon, near Eccleshall.
It’s just that it hasn’t been seen for many decades. Like hundreds of similar agricultural homes, sturdily built in the 18th and 19th centuries, Keepers Cottage has been transformed over the years.
Maxine and her builder husband Ken, have been responsible for shaping Keepers Cottage for the 21st century. “There have been several extensions,” Maxine admits. Although now retired, Ken has been kept busy during the family’s 15 year ownership of the “cottage” – now a handsome four-bedroom property in a desirable location.
He has even converted a building which used to house pigs, into a self-contained bungalow in the garden. The addition of the bungalow adds another attraction, if one was needed, to the property.
“It would be ideal for elderly members of the family, or teenagers,” says Maxine, who firmly believes a house should be a home, first and foremost.
“I’ve been into other people’s houses and they’re often pristine. That’s not how we like to live. Our house is very definitely a family home.
“We really don’t want to leave,” she says. “I’m finding it very hard. It’s such a lovely spot. It’s very quiet, and the countryside is lovely. We look down across a valley and the view is gorgeous.”
Indeed, the country around Standon is criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways, and would be ideal for nature lovers. It is also useful for commuting, being not too far from junction 14 of the M6 motorway.
Maxine, who used to work in Birmingham, knows the route well, and also knows the feeling of relief the return journey offers when one exchanges the bustle of the city for the peace of the country.
Keepers Cottage is a versatile property, but would definitely suit a family, having plenty of space inside and out.
The house is approached through a five-bar gate which opens on to a driveway which leads up to the property. There’s a handy car port and ample space for parking other vehicles. There are handsome lawned gardens to the front and rear, and there’s also a wooded area at the end of the garden.
The bungalow/annexe includes a good-sized living room, a large kitchen/diner, bedroom and shower room.
The main house has a welcoming entrance with an oak floor, leading to a sitting room with an Adam-style fireplace with a cast iron wood burner. There’s a study area, and a living room, again with a wood burner in the fireplace.
The kitchen runs the full width of the house, with lovely views to the front and rear. Also on the ground floor is a lobby and wc, plus a garden room with a vaulted, wood-panelled ceiling.
Upstairs is a master bedroom with an attached dressing room and en suite shower room. There are a further three bedrooms, plus a family bathroom.
What would that old gamekeeper, who used to call this house his home, make of all the changes?