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House in Grantchester, Cambridgeshire with ties to poet Rupert Brooke to be sold at auction

Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson
Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson

Famously referred to as “the handsomest young man in England” by the poet WB Yeats, the short but meaningful life of the great poet and romantic icon Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) has always been closely associated with Grantchester.

Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke

The man who penned The Soldier, a heartfelt poem written at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, which contains the immortal lines: “If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England”, lived and wrote at Orchard House between 1909 and 1911.

He then moved to the neighbouring Old Vicarage, living there until 1912. Cheffins will be selling the former at auction on March 14.

Orchard House is situated next to The Orchard Tea Room in Grantchester, around 2.5 miles from Cambridge.

As he was a popular graduate student from the University of Cambridge, Brooke soon attracted a following at Orchard House and hosted parties with the likes of Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, EM Forster, Bertrand Russell, Augustus John and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who collectively became known as the Grantchester Group.

Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson
Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson

Brooke, who died in 1915 aged 27 in Greece while on his way to the Gallipoli landing, described this part of his life as idyllic and was known to have written in a letter to a girlfriend:

“I wander about barefoot and almost naked... I live on honey, eggs and milk, prepared for me by an old lady like an apple.”

He moved to the property in 1909 after graduating from King’s College. He lodged with the Stevenson family, who also owned the house, and his accommodation, meals and use of the garden cost him 30 shillings a week.

Brooke was also known to swim naked with Virginia Woolf at Byron’s Pool at midnight and host wild parties in the gardens of Orchard House.

Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson
Orchard House, Grantchester. Picture: Mike Higginson

He wrote the famous poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, inspired by The Old Vicarage, where he lived from 1911 to 1912. The house is now owned by Jeffrey Archer.

Orchard House is being sold by the executor of the late Robin Callan, originator of the Callan Method, which is related to TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

The home, which is in need of renovation, has four large bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spacious sitting room, conservatory, separate dining room and drawing room.

It is more than 2,200 sq ft in total and has a decent-sized garden which leads onto the tea rooms. It also has a blue plaque.

Richard Freshwater, a director at Cheffins, said: “Grantchester is without doubt one of the most desirable villages in Cambridgeshire.

“Not only is it steeped in history, having been home to the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners and the Edwardian poet, Rupert Brooke, but it also is one of the most picturesque English villages in the country.

“People are attracted to the setting, surrounded by the beautiful Grantchester Meadows with the famous Byron’s Pool (apparently Lord Byron swam there, according to Rupert Brooke) and running alongside the River Cam, but they are also drawn by the three brilliant pubs, The Rupert Brooke restaurant and the pretty tearooms – while still being within only 10 minutes from the very centre of Cambridge.

“Grantchester has also managed to earn itself a reputation for being one the most glamourous villages locally, as it’s currently home to Mary and Jeffrey Archer and Dave Gilmour, and of course has now gained national fame through the popular ITV drama about the village.

“Buyers in the village are usually local people who have been waiting for some time to get into Grantchester, or mainly those leaving London who like the quintessential English village feel while still being within reach of the centre of Cambridge.”

Richard added: “Orchard House is one of the most iconic buildings in the village.

“Next to the world-famous Orchard Tearooms, the house is imposing and has light and bright rooms – as well as huge amounts of entertaining space.

“As it is one of the best properties in the area, while also being of significant historical interest, we believe that the house could draw attention from private buyers, investors or even institutions when it is offered for sale in the auction room in March.”

The property is for sale via public auction at Cheffins, 1&2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, on Wednesday, March 14 from 2pm.

For more information on Orchard House, call Cheffins on 01223 214214 or visit cheffins.co.uk.

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