Owners at Stuart Court in Minchinhampton turned out in strength at Stroud District Council to back plans to add seven homes to the estate.

Angela Harris joked: “Everybody turning up must have impressed the committee. With us all brandishing our walking sticks, it had to be a unanimous decision in favour!”

The councillors’ decision to approve the joint venture by Cognatum Estates and Environ Communities will boost the
number of people able to retire to one of the leafiest developments, in one of the prettiest corners of England.

The five new houses and two apartments will complement the existing 26 Cotswold stone properties, built by English Courtyard to echo the architecture of the centrepiece of the estate, the old rectory, which was converted into apartments. The new homes are cleverly designed to combine contemporary, spacious and energy efficient interiors with a more traditional exterior.

Mike Roe, who was the first resident at Stuart Court back in 2006, explains: “Minchinhampton is fabulous. A lovely little place. If you go out of the back gate of Stuart Court it is 150 yards to the centre of the town where we have a butcher, chemist and a dairy opened by a local farmer selling homemade, prize-winning cheeses. It is quiet here but one of the nice things is that as you walk round you always see someone to chat to. There is an unwritten rule that if someone is reading in the garden you don’t shout ‘hello’, unless they look up and start the conversation.”

The small hilltop town perches above steep valleys where some old cloth mills still stand. The main feature of this pleasant old
town is the 17th century Market House which is supported on stone columns so the market could be held under cover.

Among the joys of Stuart Court are the gardens, including two courtyards and woodland. The estate managers, Milton and
Sarah Hussey, handle the gardening, with Sarah, a graduate of the National Trust gardening training scheme, devoting most of her time to the five acres despite being frustrated by badgers from the nearby set who keep rolling on her new meadowland plantings.

She says: “This is a super job. No other company runs the management on a profit-free basis. Once a year we have an outdoor summer lunch and set up a marquee. Everyone brings something to eat and we usually have far too much, but it’s good fun.”

The couple met while working at Claridges Hotel, where Milton was a trainee manager and Sarah the florist. During his hotel management career, Milton went on to work at some of the finest hotels in London and Paris, including the Cadogan and the George V.

Jill Dolman, a retired civil servant, who moved in after realizing how lovely the Minchinhampton area of the Cotswolds is, says:
“I needed to be somewhere with access to culture. There are always concerts in Cheltenham, and a literary festival. As soon as I came through the gates I knew this was where I wanted to be. It had a lovely feeling and I have no regrets. We have remarkable private grounds and excellent managers. To have a feeling of security where you are also independent is a difficult combination to find.”