English Cottages

Here’s Life! A Woman Bought a 16th-Century House in Surrey

Low ceilings with wooden beams, stone floors centuries old, paintings everywhere (even in the bathroom), antique furniture, and a live fire in the hearth — this is the setting for the owner of this unique cottage in one of England’s villages.

While the atmosphere inside the house is steeped in history, from the outside, you wouldn’t guess that this stone country cottage is nearly 500 years old. It was built in the 16th century. Over the years (more like centuries), ordinary people have lived here — one generation passing to the next, residents changing the interior to suit their tastes while preserving the historical spirit of the place. And it seems they’ve succeeded.

The house is located in Surrey Hills. You might recognize these places from books and movies — it’s where Kate Winslet’s character lived in “The Holiday,” where Harry Potter’s hometown (fictionally) was located, and fans of Jane Austen’s novels would remember it from “Emma.”

So, can you imagine what villages and small towns in Surrey County look like?

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© Alexander James

This is how the house looks from the outside.

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© Alexander James

It’s hard to believe that this house is centuries old. But it’s true — Surrey boasts many houses that are 400-500 years old, and many have remained in remarkably good condition.

“I searched for over a year for my future home. I looked at listings in different regions. When I saw this offer, I initially dismissed it. But then the price dropped, and I went to see the house. Even before I reached the front door, I decided it was worth buying,” says the current owner of the historic home.

According to the woman, she was charmed not only by the house but also by the area itself.

“On one side, it’s a secluded little village. A winding road leads to the house, surrounded by fields and forests. On the other side, it takes only 30 minutes to get from here to London.”

Let’s take a look inside the 500-year-old house.

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© Alexander James

On the ground floor, there are three rooms: the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Upstairs, there’s a bedroom, study, and bathroom.

The house is furnished with great expense. There’s antique furniture everywhere. Some items were acquired by the owner for a song, but the value of other things can only be guessed at. For example, there’s a 16th-century Belgian tapestry on the wall in the dining room.

Other interesting features include:

✔ Curtains made from Hampstead Verdure fabric by the Watts brand.

✔ Dining chairs reupholstered (now covered in tweed).

✔ A Chinese gilded food container by the window (purchased at auction).

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© Alexander James

Underneath this large rug in the living room lies an old brick floor. A chair, two sofas, and a footstool (notice their amazing animal paw legs) are from different decades. They looked different originally. They were restored and covered in retro fabric.

“The previous owners concealed the stone floor. Thick carpeting covered every room. I removed it and cleaned every brick. I felt that such beauty shouldn’t be hidden. These bricks, polished by the feet of generations of people, are the soul of this house,” says the owner.

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© Alexander James

The perpetual cold is the price for historical beauty. But the owner isn’t deterred; warm socks or fur slippers are enough to feel comfortable.

Above the door hang hand-painted Delft plates. To the right, a vintage Swiss-painted cabinet peeks out.

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© Alexander James

On the shelves, there’s a collection of vintage tableware. The apron near the ADA stove is made from Portuguese tiles (also from the 17th century).

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© Alexander James

A live fire burns in the fireplace every day — it’s chilly here even on a sunny summer day. By the way, it was this dining table (from the 16th century) that the owner bought for a song.

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© Alexander James

Would you like to sit by this fireplace with a glass of wine?

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© Alexander James

Low ceilings and wooden beams are constant features of any old house in rural England.

A painting by Walter Herring (an original, not a replica) hangs on the wall in the hallway. He lived from 1838 to 1913 and was known for his paintings of animals.

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© Alexander James

Here’s what the entrance to the bathroom on the ground floor looks like (in addition to this one, there’s a full bathroom on the second floor).

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© Alexander James

You wouldn’t even guess that this is an ordinary rural toilet.

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© Alexander James

The master bedroom. It’s hard to see, but there’s a fresco on the ceiling, dating back to 1560. It’s incredible that the drawing has survived to this day. The historical atmosphere is also supported by the 19th-century canopy bed with a 17th-century bedspread.

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© Alexander James

The bedroom is also heated by a stove. But among the most interesting things here is the miniature door that leads to a small study. Even a person of short stature would have to stoop to enter that room.

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© Alexander James

Here’s the secret nook with a window where you can work in peace. The checkered carpet on the floor pays homage to the owner’s Scottish heritage.

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© Alexander James

The bathroom is impressive too. With a window, paintings, vintage wallpaper, and a bathtub on cast iron legs.

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© Alexander James

A general view of the bathroom. This concludes the tour of the house.

If you found this interesting, check out our “Cottages in England” section.

Qualified interior designer and article author specializing in home and residential interiors since 2021. My favorite topics include Scandinavian design, reviews of English cottages, as well as simple and light ideas for apartment decoration.

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