Peaceful hideaway in a village beloved by film and TV

A COTTAGE with two bedrooms and a beautiful private garden is on the market in Turville.

Maggie Yeo and her husband Nigel bought Belle Cottage nearly 14 years ago. They live and work in London during the week and have used the house primarily as a weekend retreat.

Ms Yeo said: “We wanted to find somewhere peaceful and quiet and easy to get to.

A friend of ours introduced us to this lovely, amazing village called Turville.

“We found the chalet, fell in love with it and spent far more time here than we ever imagined. It has been a wonderful home for us.

“We bought it and redid it within the first 18 months to two years.

“It was quite manageable because it was only 50 minutes from where we live in London, so I could come and go quite easily to oversee things.”

The couple focused on improving the ground floor – reconfiguring the layout of the living room, kitchen and bathroom – and redecorating the whole thing.

Ms Yeo said: “We changed the color scheme inside and kept the colors neutral. We ripped out all the floors on the ground floor and laid a stone floor with underfloor heating. The bathroom remained at the back of the cottage but we ripped out the tub and put in a walk-in shower.

“Then we opened up between the kitchen and the living room. We removed a door and pushed back the wall slightly in order to have a beautiful U-shaped kitchen in our living room.

To allow them to move the interior wall of the ground floor, the couple installed oak support beams, in keeping with the traditional character of the property.

The ceilings in the living room and kitchen are higher than in many older cottages.

Ms Yeo said: “At the bottom you don’t have to worry about leaning over and missing beams, you have plenty of headroom.

“Upstairs is a different matter because you have the roof racks, but downstairs you have a lot of headroom.”

Belle Cottage has two dormer windows in the tiled pitched roof.

There is a detached garage with overhead storage.

A climbing wisteria grows on the brick and flint front facade, and there are beds of boxwood balls and purple-flowering alliums on either side of the front walkway.

The couple have designed and maintained a beautiful back garden over the years, replacing most of what grew there and building a yard with reclaimed patio tiles and wrought iron gates.

Ms Yeo said: ‘The garden was the thing that sold me the cottage because I wanted the outdoor space.

“Because it backs onto the cemetery, it’s very private and very peaceful and quiet.

“We wanted to create a space where you feel like you are entering a private walled garden. We kept the Bramley apple tree at the end, which is lovely, but removed all the other hedges.

“We placed two cherry blossom trees on the left side and three Himalayan silver birches on the right to create height in a small space.

“All the plantings mean the birds and animals feel very protected when they come in and you feel like you’re in your own little private world.

“You close the iron gates behind you, sit down at the table and chairs and look out over the garden.

“At night we set up lighters under the trees so you have this really lovely magical space in the evening as well as a very tranquil and calm place during the day.”

Turville is about eight miles north of Henley and is blessed with a fine crop of historic buildings.

Belle Cottage is believed to have once formed part of the stable at 1 School Lane which dates back to the 16th century and is Grade II listed.

Exceptionally easy on the eyes, the village is perhaps best known for the films and television programs in which it has appeared.

The Vicar of Dibley, Midsomer Murders and Goodnight Mr Tom were all filmed there and the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Windmill is just across the fields.

Ms. Yeo said, “I didn’t realize what an absolute treasure the village was. We bought the cottage purely because of its location, proximity to London, but what it gave us was so much more than we imagined: outdoor living, amazing neighbours, great pubs nearby and great walks. For us, with two dogs, it was just fantastic.

There are several traditional country pubs within walking distance of Belle Cottage, including the Bull and Butcher in Turville itself.

Ms Yeo said: “There are so many pretty villages. You have the Frog in Skirmett which is great, and then you have the Checkers Inn in Fingest which has a nice big back garden.

“You don’t have to go far to have a good pint or glass of wine and some food and then walk home.

“My husband is also a cyclist and the Chilterns are famous for cycling. So it was the perfect location for everything we wanted to do.”

Turville is popular with tourists, especially during the summer, but Belle Cottage is set back from the village square on a dead end road.

“You are completely away from it,” Ms Yeo said. “If you sit in the garden you don’t hear any noise or activity going on in the village, it’s so isolated. It’s really adorable. As a getaway for a business couple who just wants to get away for the weekend, it’s an absolute slice of heaven.”

• Belle Cottage is on the market with Savills at an indicative price of £595,000, with no subsequent chain. For more information or to arrange a viewing, please call (01491) 843000.

Karl M. Bailey