The ownership of a mansion carries considerable advantages — great views, the opportunity for architectural one-upmanship and so forth — but it also has several snags. You are responsible for the upkeep of a substantial residence and its surrounding acres, a time-consuming and expensive enterprise. But you can swerve most of these costs if you acquire a section of a stately home — 7 Digswell House, for example, a property that occupies the “central and majority portion” of Digswell House, a grade II listed pile in Hertfordshire. This mansion, built in 1805, was designed by Samuel Wyatt, architect of the rather more famous Tatton Hall in Cheshire. Like Tatton, Digswell House has an impressive neo-classical portico.
Another eye-catching feature is the curved staircase that connects the three floors of 7 Digswell House, a home with a floor area of 3,888 sq ft — not palatial, but not cramped either. The kitchen and family room are in the basement, a place where the aristocrats who first owned the house would never have ventured but at that time these rooms were not the cleverly lit spaces they are today. On the ground floor there is a wide hallway with a sitting room and a dining room on either side. The 30ft-wide drawing room opens on to the terrace, from where you can admire the five acres of communal gardens while reflecting that Capability Brown and Humphry Repton were among the celebrity horticultural names who worked on the Digswell estate in the 18th and 19th centuries. On the second floor there are four bedrooms, including a master suite.
Digswell House has several former occupants of note, including Sir Ebenezer Howard, founder of the garden city movement: the best-known of these communities, Welwyn Garden City, is less than two miles from Digswell. Sir Ebenezer regarded London as a “large and unwieldy city” in need of “complete reconstruction”, although presumably he bought Digswell House in 1919 because it was an easy commute to the capital from nearby Welwyn North station: the trip to King’s Cross takes only 30 minutes.
Savills will be launching 7 Digswell House next month with a guide price of £1.5 million. The costs for the upkeep of the gardens shared with the other nine owners in the house are £120 per month.