The Househunter: Romping Round The Old Manor in Somerset

As soon as I saw this fabulous Manor House in Somerset I came over all Jilly Cooper. Surely, I thought this seven bedroom property is the home of Rupert Ruttington-Brown but then I saw the price £995,000 and thought that Rupes would probably live in something three times more expensive so I think perhaps it’s the family home of his friend Max, whose charming daughter Rupert will eventually marry and cart off to his mansion at the top of the lane.

But between that and the lavish ceremony on the lawns of Ruttington Towers, there will be plenty of misunderstandings, tears, trembling lips and fallings out. Max will be very cross with Rupert over the seduction of his lovely daughter (who’s terribly shy but the only one who can persuade Rupert out of his “rutten” ways.

I imagine they will probably meet when Flora is taking food supplies to her sister and a group of her mates who are protesting about a new road which will destroy the wildlife across the bosky woodland and rolling meadows. A plan which Rupert, clearly, was fully in favour of until Flora ran across his path with a tray of vegan sausage rolls causing his horse, Italian Stallion, to rear and nearly causing him to fall off (he is such a masterful rider he didn’t, of course, fall).

Rupert will accompany Flora back to the kitchen, a room which intrigues him as he has never really been in one before, and will discover an uncharacteristic sense of peace sitting at the battered table and testing her avocado chocolate brownies washed down with homemade sloe gin.

As the plot twists and turns (and turns and twists) Rupert will change sides, try a vegan sausage roll (only once) and fall in love with Flora, who will take a long time to convince and as she secretly fancies the head protester, Narcissus, who, in turn, loves her sister Sophie – but obviously not quite as much as he loves himself.

Eventually Flora will discover Narcissus bathing in the garden pond to wash the tunnelling mud off, watched over by Sophie from the bushes and will realise that he’s no good. It’s a moot point, of course, if Rupert is any better than this and there is a sneaking suspicion that Narcissus is, in fact, the son of Rupert from a long ago fling with a buxom barmaid at the Stag and Rut pub in Stroud.

A villain will arrive in his helicopter – probably a foreign Viscount – possibly French – quite sexy but definitely a bad-un and Max’s wife will be temporarily seduced by his accent and slightly over long hair. This will all fall apart when he turns up to seduce her in a suit and flip flops and she will return apologetically Max, who will be hugely relieved as he was worried he was going to have to fight Justin Truly and he wasn’t feeling quite up to it.

Meanwhile Flora will spend many hours sitting in the window seat of her childhood home trying to dream romantic thoughts of Narcissus and finding Rupert’s face keeps swimming into view.

Eventually, the road will be cancelled, the villain will leave (with the buxom barmaid in tow) Narcissus and Sophie will rush off to St Tropez to protest about something for the summer and, in the ensuing calm Flora and Rupert will realise they are a match made in Somerset, which, as any fule know, is heaven.

And when all’s said and done so is this house, which I really quite fancy – much more than Rupert. Anyone else?

It’s on the market with Inigo for £995,000. Above is Flora’s childhood bedroom with the bed she painted the year she was secretly in love with the gardener, while below is Sophie’s room which Narcissus will briefly visit but leave because there isn’t a big enough mirror and in a temper Sophie will burn the fur rug she had laid in front of the fire specially for him.

The family bathroom where, Flora and Sophie spend hours chatting – one in the chair one on the loo – the upper classes are perfectly happy to share bodily functions while they chat.

And it’s over to you to refine the plot which you will all do so much better than me. In the meantime I’m just going to wander round again and dream….



Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I posted yesterday asking nicely if we could return to commentary of the rooms. Whether Kate chooses to do this is, naturally, entirely her choice.

    I understand this is ‘free content’. This seems to be a line many instagrammers and bloggers are pushing at the moment. As if we should all be terribly grateful for their wisdom and time. I find it a little grating. The followers are what gives them book deals, free products and everything else. I don’t believe their lives are easy, I understand they have daily stresses and strains like everyone else and they are under pressure to deliver fresh content, but I also don’t like an inability to simply listen to some polite feedback without everyone piling on and defending them.

    Kate is an adult and has responded graciously, accepting the feedback and posting why she wrote a script for this. Fine, that’s her call and her blog. But can we be allowed to post our opinions too without being made to feel like we’re bad people please.

    Kate, I really enjoy your posts. My comments were meant in a constructive way and as a reader, I thought you’d be interested in some feedback. That’s all.

    Thank you for reading.

  2. Brilliant & funny précis on this fab pile. Actually enlightening in some “non-linear” way. Kate, yours is one of the few blogs where I pay close attention to the words as well as the pics. Thank you. signed, a former buxom barmaid

  3. I’m a bit late to the party, but I see the gorgeous old manor as belonging to Uncle Monte/Monty, as played by the late, lamented Richard Griffths in Witnail & I.

    Monte is now making a passable living as an antique dealer, of course his ramschackle stock looks amazing in the ground floor rooms and he’s got a cosy flat upstairs.

    Sophia is employed to hold the fort while Monte goes to auctions and buying trips and then Rupert comes in looking for some stuff to paint over…
    Their eyes meet and Monte’s flat is the perfect trysting spot!

    Now who to cast…

  4. Loved the story Kate. It’s a few decades since I read a Jilly Cooper but this really reminded me of the wonderful Tamara Drew.

    1. Also loved it Kate thank you! Always a reader never a commenter usually but I have to add to the cries of thank you’s – and you write what you want to! Yes it was a little more fiction than fact this week but hey ho it’s a Friday and you don’t have to answer to anyone. I’m a recent purchaser of my first home and your advice and recommendations over the past 6 months has been invaluable.

  5. As an American reader and fairly new to your (wonderful) blog I was struck by how different the real estate photos are. In America the photos would have been lightened out of recognition on the computer before posting. The rooms are amazing and I enjoyed the plot (I’m off to look up Jilly Cooper next).

  6. I come here to read what Kate writes. If she wants to write scripts, I’ll read that. The internet is full of room descriptions… plus she does that other days too. Loosen up, people! Things don’t always have to be what *you* like. Share the joy! Come on!

  7. Don’t change a thing! I love the Friday fables. If I want to look dispassionately at the pictures I can click the link. Narcissus. Chortle…

  8. I love the Friday posts! And i love that you change it up sometimes with film scripts – truly entertaining!

  9. Contact the agent Kate and say in order to make your mind up about purchasing the Manor, you must stay there for the night. Insist on having the painted bed. Hurry up because this village is best seen in Summer. There has been serious flooding in Croscombe in winter. The kitchen set up needs rearranging, killer having the stove in one room and sink in the other, so insist they bring breakfast to your room. Somerset is so beautiful in July and August.

    1. Interesting – does that explain the price? But yes maybe we need to expand the remit to allowing me to spend a night in each house before I can write about it… I like your thinking!

      1. I was also curious about the low price. Just looked it up on street view (my nosey go-to when I’m left wondering ‘what’s the catch’) and I see the front door opens right onto the A road – bit of a nightmare what with the litter of kids and dogs that feels obligatory in a country pile like this!

          1. There is also apparently a housing estate (a nice one, mind, but still a housing estate) directly behind the Manor. It was sold at auction last year and has seemingly just been given a good redecoration, as many/most fixtures appear identical in the previous pictures on Rightmove… I hasten to add I didn’t research all this myself, but the house was the subject of much discussion on a message board Elsewhere on the Internet (where many people were sniffy about how dark it all is. I think it’s beautiful)!

  10. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for the laughs! Anyone who has followed you for a while will probably, like me, follow Inigo & The Modern House. They could go on there if they wanted the facts. I saw on Twitter that Joanne Harris had mentioned people telling her that her books were ‘not what they expected’ and explaining how she could improve! I do think people forget that they are not paying for this blog so to be arrogant/patronising and tell you what your content should be is astonishing to me.
    I loved the house. To be my true fantasy, I would just move it to the coast. Could you fix that please? 🙂

  11. Hi Kate
    As an avid reader of your blog and owner of two books I really looked forward each week to all the interiors advice, interpretation, insights you had to offer. I still love it, but feel slightly disappointed when logging on on a Friday to find another film script, which although funny had me skipping through to see if there was any talk on the actual house, which there wasn’t. I’m with the other posters, some of the comments above are rude and entitled, this is a free blog after all, but I think you have such a fantastic rep the interiors world, and rightly so, that people come to you for what they love – the best interiors commentary out there. Please can we have more of it back, and on an editorial basis too, slightly missing it in between the script writing and PR ad posts. Thank you 🙏 xx

  12. Bravo!!

    Two for the price of one here – I was so gripped by the thrillung tale I forgot to look at the photos, which I could then go back and enjoy.

    You can never please everyone, Kate, but you are very highly skilled at what you do, so I’d say: trust your instincts.

    1. This was exactly my thought! I read it and commented this morning – I loved the nostalgia value and thoroughly enjoyed the story, then went back to look at the pictures (why do we need to be told how to appreciate them?). It really felt like a two-for-the-price of one post! I am, quite frankly, amazed by some of the comments. How can you not enjoy beautiful images accompanied by a hilariously satiric post inspired by the sort of 80s high-camp that Jilly Cooper and Jackie Campbell regularly produced? I mean, the reader wins on two distinct levels here!

  13. I find the insistence of fact vs. fiction in the home decorating context amusing. Most decorating and home articles are so full of overwritten fluff describing what’s in the pictures anyway (“curated” when taking about stocking the liquor cabinet, “expansive” rather than “big”) that calling them “fact” is a stretch. I don’t know about anyone else, but I scarcely read the text in favor of photos when reading house mags, whether AD, Elle Decor or World of Interiors. Half the time it’s easily-parodied stuff about the owners’ lives and wealth. If you’ve been reading this blog diligently, by now you should be able to imagine what Kate might say and allow her to have a rest from writing her usual commentary. And since the house is listed somewhere, I’m sure you can find all the facts on the estate agent’s site.

  14. Love that Kate 😂 Nice laugh to start my day. Ignore the Curmudgeons. If they can’t look at this beautiful house and make their own assessment then I’d say they probably don’t have a creative or imaginative bone in their bodies. “Rock On” Kate and let the curmudgeons “Jog On” !!!

  15. I think people are forgetting that this is a *free* blog — there’s a bit of a ‘can I speak to your manager’ tone to some of these complaints…
    A beautiful house which I think rather speaks for itself. Maybe the naysayers can be satisfied with a half-and-half approach? In any case, I think after 10 years it’s more than reasonable to change things up a bit. Plus, I imagine most of your long-time readers are now well able to spot an ugly white radiator/island rug etc.

    I’ve been reading the blog for years without commenting, but the (unnecessarily rude) tone of some of these complaints compelled me to chuck in my two cents. I’m not the traditional target audience for this kind of thing but never fails to brighten my day!

  16. This has been one of the best plots so far. Don’t listen to the party poopers, most of us love a bit of escapism. Though I think you are looking for at least a two season deal with Netflix here, ooor maybe time for a new book deal, this time with all the gorgeous, timeless photos from Fridays and your plots as short stories? Just a thought, though no idea of how the rights for these photos work…

    As for the house, I loved looking at the pictures, even if it is a bit on the dark side for me on the inside. Although… those stone arches almost make up for the moodiness. Almost.

  17. Enough of the story telling and more about what the post is about please. I want to know your thoughts on the interiors. Sorry, but I usually look forward to Fridays househunter so please lets get back to the job in hand.

    1. Your opinion is valid and helps me to understand what readers might like – I had wondered if 10 years of househunter might be proving a little repetitive. However, please don’t make me feel told off for occasionally mixing things up a little.

    2. This sort of response (there was one before from someone else) is why I haven’t done one of my ridiculous stories this week. Kate: Perhaps do an extra post of a really dangy property so that some people can put their decorating ideas forward and the rest of us can do our silly stories to make folk laugh. Laughing is good. You obviously give your decorating ideas and the outline of a silly plot. Just a thought. this way the Friday househunter remains the way it was. What do you think?

      1. I love reading your stories – they make me laugh out loud every week. You may have the solution – I only do a film plot if something occurs to me and this week it did. X

    3. karen, why such a karen? your tone is so out of keeping with the spirit of everything kate does and what this blog is about.

  18. Can’ beat that story, you’ve got me reaching for a tattered Jilly Cooper somewhere on a shelf covered in dust and cobwebs, maybe this summer’s reading whilst dreaming of a gorgeous manor in deepest Somerset complete with the fabulous kitchen above!

  19. That was your best film plot yet. You nailed the Jilly Cooper so well I was actually back in the 80s for a bit. Completely convinced by plot, characters and especially the location in this extraordinary house! Bravo!

  20. Nope, nobody can top your script. But mind you, if that battered old kitchen table could talk…
    Cheers from Canada!

  21. It looks like a gorgeous home and the styling is stunning. I love the open fireplaces and the wood-burning stove – they really make these types of properties something special. Some of the ceilings look like they are sagging a little… I wonder if they will need some work?

    1. Well old houses do bend – my grandmother needed bricks under one of the beds to stop it sliding across the room and out onto the landing but it was perfectly safe – at least we thought so at the time! That said you would definitely need a surveyor to look things over before committing to a purchase.

  22. I personally agree with Cathryn. Fact, not fiction please! This rather silly attempt at a Cooperesque romp does nothing for me and takes away from the magnitude and elegance of this fabulous house. Feel it deserves more.
    Off to buy a Euromillions ticket 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

    1. Ouch! I understand your point of view and, as I said to another reader, my concerns that 10 years of househunter might be proving repetitive can be allayed by your dislike of the occasional film script. But please bear in mind that this is, in effect, a free magazine run by a one person.

    2. Woww the entitlement! If you feel it deserves more, kindly link us to your time-consuming and free blog where you’ve done it justice.

    3. Kate, please except my apologies for my unkind comment. I woke up grumpy (a rare occurrence for me) there should be an addendum to the “don’t text drunk” and add “or grumpy”. I love your posts and they brighten up my morning when they plop into my inbox. I also love your input to the Friday posts as to how maybe you’d shift the floor plan if possible, you have such good insight and ideas. I was wrong, and it’s your post so you should write whatever you feel like. Please know I feel awful. I’m still intent on getting my lottery ticket, with tail firmly between my legs.

      1. Don’t feel awful – I’ve woken up insecure and worried about finding new content that isn’t repetitive. We’ve all had a year and our moods are not what they might be. Let me know if you win the lottery and if so, can I come and stay and we can move the floorplans together.

        1. I don’t deserve your graciousness, but thank you. Of course you can come and stay😂. I really don’t know what came over me, and maybe you’re right in that our moods are not as they might be. I hope my rudeness hasn’t put you off your posts. I will remain penitent, and thank you again for your grace

      2. Genuinely, it was really classy and brave of you to come back and respond that way. I am going to join in and apologise for my snark also. Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

  23. No Kate, you just keep writing what you love and if that means film scripts to accompany a dream property on a Friday so be it. A little bit of escapism does us all good and staunch followers of yours can surely view the rooms with an “interior eye” themselves. Love your little plots. Its fun and different! The property is stunning by the way, I’d move in tomorrow!

  24. Kate you are on fire today, that was so funny! The house is an absolute dream too. Not sure it needs any commentary, it would literally just be and here’s another perfect room….

  25. I, for one, found the script hilarious – you have beautifully captured the ludicrous pleasures of 80s-era Jilly Cooper. The house is nice, too.

  26. I miss your commentary on each room, whether they have an island rug, note how they’ve made the cardinal sin of white skirting boards etc. Can we have that back please?!

  27. Kate, my love, do you think you could possibly write about the house? The film scripts are rather taking over. Just a thought….
    I’ll have a look on Inigo, but they are selling the house, so a dispassionate view of its challenges rather unlikely. It does look dreamy, but might be one of those lifetime/intergenerational projects.

    1. Thank you for making this point kindly Cathryn. I had begun to worry that I was perhaps repeating myself with the same issues house by house but I take comfort from the fact that perhaps the points vary with each property. I just thought each room was lovely and that that might be repetitive in itself. As for a big project – I feel you might be right – I am not familiar with this village but had expected the price to be higher nonetheless since there are seven bedrooms.

      1. No probs, I really appreciate your wisdom on interiors and the realities of making things happen when building, so beginning to miss that Friday fix with the film scripts. I did go to Inigo to check this one out, and although I haven’t found it yet, happened to read the founder of Atelier Ellis’ page on her house in Lewes, currently on sale. It’s quite a small cottage, extremely lovely, as you would imagine, but they’ve done everything to it – roof, windows, floors, walls, electrics, plumbing, the whole shebang. This house would need a similar overhaul, and I suspect there be dragons.

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