The Court is one of the most remarkable village houses in South Cambridgeshire, steeped in history, with the grace and grandeur of a country house but within walking distance of the villages mainline station to Cambridge and London Kings Cross. Providing 606 sqm / 6526 sqft of accommodation plus a guest cabin and standing in 2.75 acres / 1.1 ha of beautiful gardens. On the market as a single house for the first time in 100 years.
The Court is one of the most remarkable village houses in South Cambridgeshire, steeped in history, with the grace and grandeur of a country house but within walking distance of the village’s mainline station to Cambridge and London Kings Cross. Providing 606 sqm / 6526 sqft of accommodation plus a guest cabin and standing in 2.75 acres / 1.1 ha of beautiful gardens. On the market as a single house for the first time in 100 years.
The history of The Court is a fascinating exploration. Probably built in the 1500s, it would appear to have been the later childhood home to Stuart poet and politician Andrew Marvell, a colleague of John Milton and graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, where his portrait now hangs in the College’s collection. It is purported that after the restoration of the monarchy it was Marvell who lobbied and convinced the government of Charles II not to execute Milton for his revolutionary writings.
The oldest part of the house, in which Marvell’s parents lived, now forms the comfortable library with its heavy ceiling timbers and wood burner and the handsome wood-panelled inner hall and study.
It was first substantially enlarged during the Georgian era with an elegant north wing added that provides the grand Adam style main drawing room, dining room and magnificent entrance hall with its sweeping staircase.
In the late 1800s it was acquired and transformed by John G Mortlock. The Mortlock family made their money in textiles in the 1700s and held a family seat at nearby Abington Hall. The family is best known for establishing Cambridge’s first bank, originally on Rose Crescent and later on Bene’t Street where it was the family bank for over 100 years before amalgamating with Barclays in 1896. John G Mortlock found his fortune in pottery and set about turning The Court into the archetypal Victorian Gentleman’s residence, enlarging and renovating the house with meticulous attention to detail and high standards of craftsmanship that we now refer to as the Arts and Crafts movement. The house remains full of Mortlock’s detailing including a wonderful curved stained-glass window on the west side of the drawing room that beautifully filters the evening sunlight and complements the room’s intricate cornice plasterwork. His monogram adorns the east brick façade of the oldest part of the house alongside its ornate chimneys and again in raised brass work on the tiled floor at the south entrance.
At some point after Mortlock’s tenure, with the demand for such large homes dwindled, it was separated into two and remained that way until 2015 when the owners of the north wing acquired the south wing and set about restoring the house and gardens to their former stature. What now stands is at once impressive and elegant yet comfortable and practical. The owners have carefully preserved its history, including commissioning precise replicas of Mortlock’s Royal Dalton tiles to replace those in the kitchen that had broken, but have also rearranged, refitted and modernised the house into a wonderful family home.
The gardens too reflect the efforts of Mortlock and the care of subsequent owners. Carefully chosen specimen trees now provide towering shade, neat lawns meet clipped hedges and borders full of perennials, giving the landscape the restful beauty beloved of Arts and Crafts landscape architects. At the far end the formal garden gives way to leafy woodland and drops to and beyond a narrow section of the river Mel over which the house has rights to draw water. A timber-clad guest cabin provides visitor accommodation and there is driveway access all the way around the house and out either side on to the High Street.
The Court’s main draw as a home remains precisely as it was to Mr Mortlock over 100 years ago, to live with the privacy, comfort and grandeur of a country house, but to be part of a community and able to walk to the village’s mainline railway station and arrive in London with ease. Today the station also serves to ease the congested car-commute to Cambridge whether for work or education.
Meldreth is a thriving parish about 7 miles south west of the Cambridge city boundary and about 4 miles north of the Hertfordshire market town of Royston. Its appeal to many is that it provides the immediate facilities so many village have lost – a shop, pub, primary school and the like – whilst remaining a relatively small and welcoming village. Its commuting links to London and Cambridge are exceptional, with a mainline railway station to Kings Cross in the village and excellent road access by the A10 and A505 linking both the M11 and A1(M). The neighbouring larger village of Melbourn can be walked to and provides further shops, community facilities and a secondary school. Melbourn Science Park is a major employment area.
It is the right side of the city for Cambridge’s many high-achieving private schools which are easily reached by road or rail.
For leisure the village is surrounded by open countryside with numerous rural footpaths and bridleways. There are at least 7 golf clubs within 10 miles. Royston provides gyms and a swimming pool and there are luxury health clubs in Cambridge and outside Baldock. The National Trust’s Wimpole Estate is 6 miles north and the neighbouring village of Shepreth has a wildlife park. The famous Sheene Mill restaurant in Melbourn can be walked to and Cambridge provides world-class food, drink and culture.