Living with the Trust at Spearywell Cottage

Spearywell Cottage on the Mottisfont estate © National Trust

Spearywell Cottage on the Mottisfont estate

Matt Gilks

What made you want to live in a National Trust house?

As a family of four, with two children aged nine and seven, one of the attractions of the property for us was the stability it provided. We also wanted the opportunity to live somewhere incredibly beautiful that is of national importance. You only have to look around the area to see just how wonderful it is.

When we visited with Liz, the estate manager, we saw that the property had been upgraded, which I believe is part of the Trust’s programme of upgrading its properties.

What is your house like to live in?

The cottage is a lovely place to live and extremely cosy. We feel that it’s good value and a fair rent.

Just after we moved in the Trust put a new gate up and, as the cottage backs on to the woodland, we asked for a fence which they put around our back garden. Little things like this really make us feel like the Trust want us to be there and that they are looking after us.

We're aware that the Trust has a duty to look after its places and we want to look after the cottage too. We’re lucky enough to live in a bit of history and so we always think about the people who lived here before us. It’s exciting.

How do you find the Trust as a landlord?

We’re really happy with them as a landlord. If anything needs doing to the house, not that there has been much, we always consult the team for their advice before doing anything.

When we first moved in, the builders upgraded the interior but unbeknown to us all, they had left a hole in the kitchen which animals were going in and out of. When we discovered there was a problem, it was quickly resolved and the hole fixed, which we were really pleased with.

You get the feeling with the team at Mottisfont that they want you to be happy in the house. They want it to be a living place as well as an historic and beautiful place.

Do you get involved with the local property?

At Christmas we go up to Mottisfont where the team put on drinks for all the tenants and in the summer we have a big hog roast. They also have regular tenants meetings which give us the chance to voice any concerns or wishes.

What are your neighbours like?

Our neighbours are all of the animals in the woods! There really is nothing quite like walking down from our house, watching the deer grazing in the field.

There's a professional couple in the farm house opposite us who are lovely and we've also made friends with other tenants in Spearywell and Mottisfont.

Would you recommend being a Trust tenant?

Yes, I would absolutely recommend it, but then I think the majority of people would. Most tenants would bite your hand off to live in a place like this! When we found out we had been chosen to live here, we felt quite privileged and we thought we had hit the jackpot. I think it’s fairly safe to say that we want to live here for a long time yet.