This is a warm and welcoming Grade II listed house that since 1840 has been home to several different clergymen, a doctor with a pony and trap, an MP and latterly the late Dame Tamsyn Imison, ex-headteacher and educational consultant. Her husband Michael, one-time director of BBCs Dr Who, now shares it with Rachel Kellett and her two dogs.
Michael wants to downsize. He says Tamsyn and I chose this house because it matched our London houses high-ceilinged Georgian style. It is very handy for the trains which get you to Liverpool Street in two-and-a-quarter hours and is only a short walk away from Halesworths attractive pedestrianised shopping street, with its independent butchers, greengrocers and numerous pavement cafes. We found it took no time to make lots of new friends here and I shall certainly be staying in the town. Above all we liked being able to get to Southwold or Walberswick in a comfortable twenty minutes, without having the expense of living in either place.
The sweeping gravel drive with parking for six cars takes you to an impressive front door flanked by the twin trunks of the ancient Magnolia grandiflora which gives the house its name. A long hall passes an elegant staircase and exits through a glassed porch into a sheltered courtyard, containing Tamsyns olive tree and other of her favourite plants. On your right is a dining room that can accommodate twelve people to dinner, whose original fireplace now houses a realistically flaming Villager gas-fired stove. The floor is sanded boards and the ceiling carries elaborate original plasterwork. Like all the main rooms, its sash window has working wooden shutters.
The sitting room opposite has two such windows, catching the sun in both morning and afternoon. There are built in bookcases. Delightful in summer, it is also cosy in the winter with the Villager dual-fuel stove alight in the period fireplace, and Bach or Biederbecke on the CD player.
Next door is the former housekeepers sitting room, to which the TV has been banished. This also overlooks the garden. A Victorian fireplace contains a practical grate. A second door leads to the AGA kitchen which is perhaps a little small for a house this size. However, the two rooms could be knocked together to give more space. The kitchen has French doors on the south side opening on a suntrap sunken patio. In the summer it makes an additional dining area. On the north side it opens to the courtyard. On the west side is a shower and lavatory, particularly useful if, as has happened, someone is sleeping in the housekeepers room.
On the other side of the hall steps lead down to a double cellar containing a built-in water-softener. Next to them a door reveals a second kitchen with sink and electric cooker. (Currently let, in conjunction with two upper rooms.} connected by narrow back stairs (good enough for servants!) to an en-suite double bedroom and then, even more steeply, to a wonderfully spacious top floor room created from two maids bedrooms. This has exposed beams and its own TV and broadband connection and could make someone a magnificent home office. There is another loo up here and bags of storage space under the eaves.
If we go up the crinoline-wide hall stair-case we find at the front of the house two large master bedrooms, each with some built-in hanging-space and shelves. Useful en-suite shower rooms have been sneaked into both of these. They are separated by a small booklined reading room with an inviting window seat. The bedroom on the south side has two windows like the sitting room below it. In addition to the en-suite on the back staircase, there are two smaller double bedrooms at the back, sharing a large bathroom which currently doubles as a laundry room.
Accessed from the courtyard are a workshop and the former stable building which has plenty of development potential. It has a two store rooms, a hayloft, an entrance from the upper garden and another loo. Its roof carries solar panels, providing electricity and an income. A greenhouse abuts one end.
The hillside gardens are on three levels. They contain a forest-size copper beech and were laid out by Tamsyn Imison, who founded Halesworth in Bloom. They have often been opened for charity. Roses and fruit trees abound. There are two ponds, a raised vegetable patch and many sheltered corners to sit and relax.
This property has 0.39 acres of land.