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To the Manor Barn

House profile, Manor Barn, South Street, Comberton, CB23 7DZ. The Pool, Picture: Keith Heppell
House profile, Manor Barn, South Street, Comberton, CB23 7DZ. The Pool, Picture: Keith Heppell

Adrian Peel visits a £2,000,000 property for sale in Comberton

Tim Willan with dog Crumble in the kitchen he transformed, Manor Barn, South Street, Comberton, CB23 7DZ. Picture: Keith Heppell
Tim Willan with dog Crumble in the kitchen he transformed, Manor Barn, South Street, Comberton, CB23 7DZ. Picture: Keith Heppell

Situated in the peaceful village of Comberton, six miles west of Cambridge, the grade II-listed Manor Barn is currently home to the Willan family.

But, after nearly two decades, the father, mother and three not-quite-grown up children are looking to move.

The house, which boasts an indoor swimming pool, snooker room and a number of environmentally-friendly touches (more on that later), is on the market for £2million with Cheffins in Cambridge. The extensive accommodation covers a total of 5,750 square feet and includes a large, open plan kitchen/living/dining room with bespoke oak cabinets and AGA, together with pleasingly high ceilings.

Outside, the 2.3-acre grounds include a four-car garage, landscaped gardens and woodland, which back out on to attractive green belt land.

“We’ve been here about 20 years – moved in ‘97,” reflects family patriarch Tim, who runs his own online business importing and selling bikes, motorbikes and scooters called E Rider.

“I was born in London but lived outside Cambridge for many years, schooled in Cambridge at St Faith’s and The Leys and have always lived either in town or here, basically, since then.”

What has he enjoyed most about living in the house and in Comberton, a village served by a shop, post office, butcher’s and garage – not to mention a firm of accountants, a solicitor, a pub and Comberton Village College, rated as outstanding by Ofsted? “It’s just a great place to bring up kids,” is the homeowner’s response.

“You’re in the country but you’ve got everything on your doorstep. The village has all the amenities you’d want – pub, dentist, hairdresser, etc. Everything’s here and you’re also very close to Cambridge. It’s been superb.”

Describing the ‘green’ aspects of the property, Tim says: “We’ve got solar panels, a biomass boiler and I run an electric car as well.

“The lucky purchaser of this house will basically live here utility-free for the next five years based on the incentives we get for those things.

“The solar’s 20 years, the biomass is seven years and that pays all the bills as far as the property is concerned. We put all that in in the last two or three years, mainly because there’s no gas in the village and it’s quite expensive to run on oil – so the alternative of using biomass is much cheaper, and it’s environmentally-friendly, of course.”

I am keen to learn what the Willans had done to improve the property. “I understand you built the swimming pool?” I ask, gesturing towards the building behind us as we sat in the garden.

“Yes, we built this about 10 years ago,” explains Tim, who describes his personal taste in interiors as “plain and unfussy”. “It’s a swimming pool with a room above and en suite facilities, and we also rearranged the kitchen to make it an open-plan living space. Originally it was two rooms with a large chimney in the middle. We removed the chimney and made it a big open space, which is great for entertaining. We tend to live in that one room.”

I had to ask why the family was moving from a place they clearly loved. “Basically, my in-laws lived in Northampton but have now moved towards Cambridge and we’re looking to be closer to them. The secondary reason is with the kids growing up, their priorities have changed – they’re at home less, they use the garden less, they use the facilities less. Therefore, it should be enjoyed by a young family, rather than a family of older children who aren’t really involving themselves in the whole thing.”

If they were staying at Manor Barn, what would Tim’s next project be?

“I might develop the garage area because it’s a big footprint and you could build a very nice annex or offices there... In terms of the house, I probably wouldn’t do anything.”

Looking around, it’s easy to see why.



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