The Agent's House and Cottage, Rushay
An Edwardian Country house and cottage on the Jurassic Coast
Rushay is a large Arts & Crafts holiday home to rent, set in its own gardens and grounds, with nine beautiful bedrooms across the house and cottage. A mile from the sea, close to Lyme Regis and on the edge of the Marshwood Vale, it’s perfect for families holidaying together.
Built for the agent of this Dorset estate in 1906, with a converted stable cottage across the yard, Rushay has huge swooping tiled roofs, with the principal rooms facing south and west. Bay windows overlook the garden to the unspoilt countryside beyond, and fill with light: the ceilings are high, the floors are waxed. At the top of the oak stairs, the first floor landing and the five bedrooms have white painted floors and clean white walls that redouble the sense of air and space. At the top of the back stairs, a broad winding flight takes you to the attic dorm.
Drop your wellies, beach bags, snorkels and coats in the boot room, and circulate through the house (children seem to love a circuit – they can race round the ground floor and use both sets of stairs). From the boots, a study/play room, then a big sober hall, and off it the drawing room with a log fire, and dining room. The dining room was opened into the kitchen in the 1960s, and we have updated the kitchen with plenty of prep space on the mahogany island and counters, kept cosy by the traditional two-oven Aga that never goes out. There’s an electric hob and oven, too.
From the kitchen, doors lead into the laundry and the pantry, which has a monstrous American fridge freezer that makes ice cubes on demand.
This remains a traditional English country house. Kate and Jason have lived in the country for thirty years, and her houses have appeared in World of Interiors, The Bible of British Taste and Ben Pentreath’s book English Decoration. Jason writes a column for Country Life.
Across the yard, the stable block was converted years ago, with three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and sitting room: a snug retreat that comes with the house.
The garden around the two houses is mainly lawn, with beech, oak and ash, cherry, walnut and hazel, as well as an apple orchard, paddocks and a stone terrace to the west, perfect for warm evenings. In Spring the sunken croquet lawn is awash with wild orchids. You can walk right out of the garden to the sea in about twenty minutes.
Charmouth has two beaches, one perfect for families and the other the jewel in the Jurassic coast’s fossil crown. Lyme Regis – with the Cobb, and dinosaur museums – is three miles away and Bridport, with its lively shops and market, ten minutes in the other direction. Axminster is a sleepy town also ten minutes over the Devon border, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Kitchen and a mainline railway station. See the Around Rushay section for ideas, outings, shopping and great walks.
West Dorset is home to great chefs like Mark Hix in Lyme and Cass Titcombe at Brassica, and there are wonderful places to buy local produce, meat and seafood. Or you can leave it all behind in a moment by walking up into the hills for uplifting views to the sea, and into two counties. At least two nearby hills are crowned by Iron Age earthworks, part of a chain of hill forts across the Marshwood Vale, itself still dominated by small fields and ancient woodland.
Whether it’s walking or swimming, cooking or exploring, or just relaxing with family and friends, Rushay makes the perfect base.