Set in acres of parkland, Courthopes house near Wadhurst, East Sussex, had been home to the Courthope family since the early 1500s. It was the perfect, country setting in which Becky and Jamie Gunning could raise their children. ‘The house was structurally sound and had been well maintained, but it was so dated,’ recalls Becky. ‘It had a grotty old laundry and a hideous shower room with thick white carpet, but it needed generally updating throughout.’

Becky couldn’t wait to begin renovating and decorating and started with the two bathrooms. Keen to use local companies, she turned to plumber Joe Drury and Jonty Drewe of Oakover Contracting, both of whom have extensive experience of working on period properties. The splendid country dining hall features stunning oak panelling. The room is perfect for entertaining and Becky chose a long rustic-style table that easily seats 12 to 14 guests. After three years in the Gunnings’ care, the house has improved almost beyond recognition.

The project

Owners: Becky Gunning, who runs party company Jolly Scrumptious Parties, and her husband Jamie, a company director, live here with sons Monty, six, and Alfie, eight

Property: A five-bedroom country house dating from the 1500s with major Victorian additions

Location: Wadhurst, East Sussex

Essential repairs: The bathrooms, pipes and electrics have been updated, and the house redecorated throughout

Layout: The original house was divided in 1986 to form two properties. The owners have
not made any further changes

The country house

the grounds of a grand country house

Grade II*-listed, and dating back to 1586, the house was divided into two homes in 1986. The parkland is famed for its oak trees, used for the original roof of Westminster Hall, commissioned in 1393 by Richard II

country lodge style formal dining room in a grand house

The formal dining room features oak panelling and boxed beams. The dining table is from Maison, chairs from and the antler pendant light came from Georgia Lacey in nearby Tunbridge Wells

countrside views and gravel pathways around a grand country house

Gravel pathways and stone balustrades frame the house and its magnificent views across the Sussex Downs

Country kitchen in a grand house

Pine kitchen units in Farrow & Ball’s Hardwick White, Jim Lawrence pendant light above the island. The existing floorcovering was removed to reveal the original oak floorboards beneath

large country style living room in a grand house

The drawing room, added during the early Victorian building work, has original cornice and mouldings. Walls painted in Little Greene’s Slaked Lime. The Bluebell sofas, Sark armchair and Valentin footstool are all from, and the curtains made up in Venicefabric in Elephant by Design Forum

a green panelled bedroom with country style furnishings

The original panelling in the north-west-facing master bedroom is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Light Blue to reflect the light. The bedside lamps are from Settle and the sofa and armchair were both gifts. The curtains are made up in Mirella fabric in Old Blue by Colefax & Fowler

dark victorian style country bathroom with a step

A step hides the plumbing and floor joists that support the cast-iron bath from Heritage Bathrooms in the guest suite. The ceiling pendant is from Maisie K in Cranbrook, with Coral wallpaper by Barneby Gates

bedroom with patterned wallpaper in a grand country house

Farrow & Ball’s Tessella wallpaper brightens Monty’s room. The blind was made by Ruston House Interiors in Thornback & Peel’s Pigeon & Jelly. The curtains are made up in Ian Mankin’s Padstow linen, from Silk Interiors, and the bed was inherited and updated with Ian Mankin’s Avon Check Indigo

Words – Sally Matton