Do you yearn for an historic home - then why not make a bee line for one of England's best preserver villages? We asked Mary Wilson to find a Tudor example, and a field trip deep into the Herefordshire countryside ensued.
Herefordshire is famous for many things including the Hay-on-Wye book festival, its eponymous cattle and several home-trown pop musicians including Richard Ashcroft and Eillie Goulding.
But for anyone with architectural bent it's the county's 'black and white' villages, which take their name from the whitewash and black timber Tudor houses they contain.
And Weobley, pronounced 'Webley', is the best-preserved of these and is, with the exception of the tarmac roads, occasional road sign and street lighting, a community preserved in aspic with 1,000 residents living in homes of 600 years or more vintage.
But Weobley shouldn't exist. Many of its neighbours were damanged or burned down when Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr rose up against English rule during the 15th century, sacking many local towns and villages including Holt, Oswestry and Welshpool, although neglect and fires in Weobley during the 19th century nearly did his work for him.
The village was originally laid out either side of Broad Street and its building names are suitably Tudor including Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Ye Olde Gifts & Tea Room, and the Tudor Guest House. But this is not some quiet Disney attraction - Weobley has a thriving economy and plenty of shops, pubs and eatieries.
Weobley Castle (not to be conufsed with an identically named one on the Gower Peninsular) used to lie at the southern end of the village, but this fell into disrepair in the 14th century. Many locals plundered the stone from the ruins, and the castle now lives on as stone fireplaces in many of the village's homes.
But the village is also a 'marmite village'. “You either love them or hate these houses,” says a spokesperson from Fox Grant, which is selling The Throne, a large Tudor house in Weobley. “People either enthuse about them or steer clear because their Grade II* listed stastus makes them difficult to renovate or alter”.
The Throne is one of three Tudor houses currently for sale in Weobley. It used to be the Unicorn Inn, but its name was changed after Charles I stayed there, albeit briefly, during the Civil War in 1645.
The Grade II* listed house dates from the 16th century, when it was a farmhouse to Throne Farm. The property has many fine period features and typically for this period of house – uneven floors, walls and ceilings.
It also has a rare timbered ceiling in the drawing room laid out in a chequered design and a section of carved timber and panelling in the hallway that archeologists get very excited about.
Hilly and Tim Clement have lived here for 12 years and are only moving to downsize. “We love the character of the house and it’s very comfortable” says Hilly.
The six bedroom, four reception room house which on the market with Fox Grant for £445,000 also has an adjoining period barn with workshops and an artist’s studio. Both this and the attic could be converted into extra accommodation with the planning consents.
Or how about Unicorn House, an early Grade II* listed house with exposed beams throughout and an impressive stone fireplace in the sitting room.
The four bedroom house, with small courtyard garden and patio, is for sale through Brightwells for £365,000. The same agent is also selling a four bedroom Tudor cottage near the village centre for £335,000. Another three bedroom Tudor cottage, called Beam Ends, is for sale for £235,000 through Nicholas Craddock.