The Coleridge family, the previous owners of The Chanters House, had always lived in Devon but the family moved to Ottery St Mary in 1760 when John Coleridge became headmaster of The Kings School. He settled his ‘Tribe’, as he called his four daughters and eight sons, and this was the first of five remarkable generations distinguished by intellectual energy, athletics and good looks. They took the Coleridges high in every profession from the Army to the Law as poets, artists, judges, bishops, and Naval, military and nato commanders. All were outshone by John’s youngest son, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born in 1772, renowned for the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He never forgot the landscape of his childhood. The little town, clustering around the church overlooking the broad valley of the river Otter, was to be poignantly recalled most famously in Frost at Midnight.
The entire west wing is taken up at ground floor level by a huge library, the largest west of Salisbury and designed for Lord Coleridge’s 18,000 books.
The current owner has carried out extensive restorations to the house with huge attention to detail. The property now offers all expected modern day facilities.
The Chanters House:
The Chanters House enjoys an enviable position on the edge of the village of Ottery St Mary adjacent to St Mary’s church. There are wonderful views over the parkland to the deciduous woodland beyond. The house is approached by a sweeping drive which runs up through the parkland around the walled garden and rear of the house to the cobbled courtyard at the front.
The house has been refurbished by the present owners including all the sash windows and roofs. The property has been re-wired and re-plumbed with the pipes going to external mains also having been replaced. The house is finished to a high standard and boasts exceptional character features including; decorative tiles, timber floors, wooden panelling, stone, wooden and marble fireplaces, along with ornate plaster work.
The principal reception rooms are of breath-taking proportions and comprise the outer hall, accessed from the main entrance to the house via the porch, with vaulted ceiling and hand painted flower motif together with exposed beams with painted inset panels, decorative tiled floor and a large oak mullion window.
The inner hall is a double storey room with a full height stone mullion gothic window. There is oak panelling to half room height with red painted panels above. This room has a large family crest of the Coleridge family with an otter and lion either side of the coat of arms.
The reception hall with its oak flooring and panelling has an impressive staircase with a large carved oak banister, believed to be imported from another house, with the initials bjfc and date 1907-1923 carved on the post, below a carved hunting otter.
The principal reception rooms lead off this hall and include the Cromwell Fairfax room, which is the dining room. The ceiling is of painted carved wood in a hexagonal pattern. The elm panelling is believed to date from the 1930’s and the stained fireplace at the end of the room commemorating the name of the room which reads as follows: ‘In this convention room Oliver Cromwell in the fall of the year 1645 convened the people of the town and neighbourhood and demanded of them men and money for the Civil War. Here also on October 29th Members of Parliament on behalf of both houses presented Sir Thomas Fairfax with a fair jewel and hung it about his neck in honour of his skill and valour at Naseby fight.’
The sitting room or gun room has exposed elm panelling and enjoys views out to the gardens to the south.
The drawing room is a twin aspect room enjoying views over the gardens to the south and west. This room comprises a large square bay window and half height oak panelling. The impressive proportions of this room are accentuated by the hand painted vaulted ceiling with inlaid gold leaf and intricate painted plasterwork.
The great library was added to the house in around 1890 by Coleridge, the Lord Chief Justice, and William Butterfield. The library is over 70ft in length, 30ft in height and remains home to the Coleridge library collection which now extends to around 22,000 books all housed in a range of oak carved bookcases. There is a gallery overlooking the room which feature 17 coats of arms, representing all the ladies who married into the Coleridge family. To the rear of the gallery, there is a small chapel built in memory of Lady Jane Seymour Fortesque Coleridge. Two large full height bay windows provide outstanding views across the gardens and parkland and at the northern end of the library there is a large ornate marble fireplace with a carved marble fresco by Frederik Thrupp.
The Victorian conservatory has a terracotta tiled floor and large carved painted windows. There are exposed brick walls and on one side a metal mesh fronted aviary.
The palm house is a large room with Thai teak floor and a new glazed roof, which once had a myrtle tree growing in the middle of the room.
The billiard room has a large cupola in the roof providing light to the room. There is a large open fireplace along with a raised seating area. The chapel is an outstanding party room with a bar and dj booth along with washroom facilities.
Off the main hall reception, the corridor leads to two separate cloakrooms beyond which there is a separate former gentleman’s smoking room with original bench seating and two wash hand basins.
The large kitchen / breakfast room has black stone tiled and oak floors comprising a central island with an extraction unit over the cooker. There is also an aga and extensive kitchen units with doors leading through to the larders and cold room as well as a fully equipped secondary / commercial kitchen.
A door leads out through to a rear hall and kitchen store providing further kitchen appliances for more extensive cooking.
Other rooms adjacent to the kitchen include the china room, office and gymnasium with a sauna and shower. Steps lead down to a cellar comprising rooms for wine storage along with a backup gas boiler, water softener and water pumps.
The principal staircase leads up past a large glazed picture window to a half landing which splits in two directions with the staircase continuing on the left hand side to the galleried landing. Principal rooms are named, with the Great Parlour Chamber being the room where Cromwell slept. A step down through an open screen leads to a sitting area with twin sash windows and window seats together with a cast iron fireplace. A door leads through to the ensuite shower room, the former Little Chamber, leading on to the Blue Chamber, a further bedroom with a fireplace. A door through
to the Hone, now used as a dressing room, provides access to an ensuite bathroom.
Also on this floor there are two further bedroom suites (one with ensuite shower and one with ensuite bathroom), laundry room, linen room and maid’s living room. From the first floor, two staircases lead to the principal bedroom suite of the house comprising the Reynell bedroom with tall vaulted ceiling with painted detail. A room of exceptional proportions with a large bay window enjoying views over the parkland towards the woods. It also has a large wooden fireplace and a door which leads from the bedroom to the Periam ensuite. A further door provides access to the Mulstone ensuite with bath with a door to the Power dressing room with fitted wardrobes.
Further bedroom suites include the Heath bedroom with Taylor ensuite bathrooms and fitted wardrobes. From the suite, a door leads through the Collins ensuite with a shower to the Duke bedroom. Two further bedroom suites include the
Buchanan and Mackarness both with ensuite bathrooms. Also on this floor there is access, via a separate staircase from the landing, to the maid’s bedroom with ensuite shower room. There is also a further bedroom, Seymour, with a separate family bathroom.
Within the old Coach House the ground floor presently comprises a fully fitted catering kitchen along with stores. On the first floor, with separate access from the walled garden, there is a two bedroom guest/staff flat comprising sitting/dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a shower room.
Adjacent to the Coach House there are former stables and stores with two loose boxes and extensive storage / garaging.
To the south west of the house, at the head of the
former drive, is the rendered gate lodge. The accommodation comprises a sitting room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor with three bedrooms, one with an ensuite shower
room on the first floor. The house is surrounded by its own gardens and also has ample parking.
The area is well served with road and rail links providing easy access via the M5, A30 and A303 to the national motorway network and London. There is a regular train service from Tiverton Parkway to London Paddington taking from 2 hours, with nearby Honiton providing a service to Waterloo taking from 2 hours 54 minutes. Exeter International airport is located 8 miles away, with 2 daily flights to London City Airport, taking just under 1 hour, as well as regular flights to many European destinations.
The attractive village of Ottery St Mary offers an excellent range of local shops and amenities. The county town of Devon, Exeter, is approximately 10 miles away offering more extensive facilities with Honiton also providing similar.
There is an excellent range of state and private chools in the area including, Blundells near Tiverton, Colyton Grammar School, Exeter School and The Maynard School, in Exeter. King’s Hall preparatory school, Kings and Queens Taunton and Taunton School are also popular. Recreational facilities in the area are outstanding, with the renowned East Devon Jurassic coastline within easy reach about 6 miles away at Branscombe or Sidmouth. Sailing on the south coast, as well as excellent walking and riding within the area, along with fishing on the river Otter and many other rivers throughout East Devon.
The gardens and grounds are a particular feature of The Chanters House, predominantly facing south and west. On the southern lawn a recently constructed timber frame summer house has been built, comprising a bbq oven and seating, set adjacent to a cobbled path which winds its way down the gardens past a large Monterey pine.
Extensive landscaping and restoration works have also been carried out in the gardens with two Victorian follies having been restored and renovated at either end of the Yew walk. ‘Sam’s Temple’ is situated below the dovecote which was designed by Walter Cave in 1896, for the Second Baron Coleridge. It is of brick construction and of hexagonal shape with timbered dovecote above.
The lawned gardens are surrounded by mixed wooded areas and dispersed with a variety of specimen broad leaf and conifer trees, as well as laurel along with other shrubs. To the rear of the house the walled garden comprises a Victorian style greenhouse built against the eastern wall and a recently constructed indoor swimming pool with changing rooms. There are also solar panels within part of the garden, which along with further panels on the roof of the chapel, powers the solar thermal system.
To the rear of the walled garden there are a range of traditional buildings comprising stores and workshops along with a large biomass system which runs on woodchip. There are two further modern timber clad farm buildings within the grounds, used for machinery storage and timber storage.
Steps lead down from the western elevation of the house to a tennis court and the parkland which is interspersed with mature trees and runs down to the river, over which there is a large area of deciduous woodland with a number of woodland walks.