The Burghley estate marks the South West border of Lincolnshire’s most sought-after district, South Kesteven, which stretches north to the Nottinghamshire border and east to the town of Bourne, and is peppered with grand country houses and limestone hills.
Good links with London and Leeds make it popular with commuters, but others come for the thrill of hunting with the Belvoir or the Cottesmore across vast swathes of woodland, arable and grass.
Although no property can match Burghley house’s Elizabethan grandeur, prices verge on the stately side compared to the rest of Lincolnshire.
There has been an increase of 25% or more over the past couple of years, but, in line with national trend, prices are now calming down. Experts expect them to stabilise over the second half of the year, which is traditionally slower.
The market is fairly quiet around Stamford, the most expensive area in South Kesteven, but north in Grantham, sales are still strong.
“It is just 23 miles from Stamford, but Grantham is cheaper. Price differentials vary for different properties, but average about 20%,” says Peter Mills of the local Humberts.
The drop is even more dramatic where the hills of South Kesteven flatten down to reclaimed marshland of neighbouring South Holland. This is Lincolnshire’s agricultural heartland, and properties with reasonable acreage are far more widely available here than in the west. Good value for money and easy access to competition centres attract leisure riders and amateur competitors alike.
“Arena UK, Sheepgate and Laughton Manor are all in easy reach. You could ride somewhere different every day,” says Hayley Brown of East Anglia Equestrian Properties.
But South Holland is not for everyone. There is little hunting to speak of and, while some people fall in love with its expanse of flat, open countryside, many find it boring.
Buyers seeking a compromise between scenery and prices should look to the east side of the South Kesteven and South Holland border. Here, East Anglia Equestrian Properties (tel:01480 471382) are asking £575,000 for Fenbourne, a five-bedroomed period farmhouse set in 27.5 acres.
A former equestrian centre, now used as a pony stud, Fenbourne has plenty of stables, a small indoor school with potential to be extended, a feed room, water room, rack rooms and hay barn. Another barn – once a granary and thought to be 200 years old – has scope for conversion into staff accommodation.
“Fenbourne would be ideal for a riding school,” says Brown. “And if this property were on the other side of Bourne towards the west you would be looking at spending about £100,000 more.”
Further north, the open flatland of the Fens is dwarfed by the undulating landscape of the Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is not served by motorways, which can make it less attractive to professional competitors, but amateur riders prize it for the “calm and deep peace” noted by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who was born here.
“This is good riding country with plenty of bridlepaths,” says Robert Laverack of local estate agent John Taylors. “It is similar to the Cotswolds but less congested.”
And significantly less expensive. John Taylors (tel:01507 603648) is asking £599,950 for Fircombe Hall, a modern four-bedroom property set in 16 acres near the popular village of Tetford. Further accommodation is available in a one-bedroom annexe. A short walk leads to a large purpose-built complex containing 15 stables and a foaling box, as well as an equipment store. Close to the stables are a tackroom, a hay store, an office and a 60x20m floodlit manege.