THE best house in the village and the embodiment of rural English arcadia - demand for historic rectories and vicarages shows little sign of waning.

Widely romanticised as the embodiment of rural English idyll rectories were historically the focal point for small, close knit rural communities.

Both metaphorically and physically, rectories, also known as vicarages or parsonages, formed the centre of village life; most rectories occupy the best spots, usually near or next to the local parish and tend to be the biggest and finest homes in the area.

Added to and extended over the years by resident rectors they make enduring, comfortable and roomy family homes with interesting architectural features and come with substantial land and grand gardens, once tended to by parishioners.

Their continuity is paramount to the preservation of England's pastoral fabric and there are no shortage of owners turning these coveted buildings into modern, functional and much loved family homes which rarely change hands.

Bruce Tolmie-Thomson, Knight Frank Country Houses and Regional Chairman says: "The contemporary appeal of rectory living show no signs of waning. Many of the UK's former rectories are listed due to their architectural and historical significance and are as important now as they were then. The Georgian rectories of 18th and 19th Centuries are particularly handsome and have excellent proportions for living and entertaining.

"For buyers, part of the charm is the romantic ideal of living in an embodiment of English georgic idyll that you so often see in films or read about in books. They have a literary legacy that people want to be part of, continue and preseve"

A large number of rectories, somewhat impiously, were considered less than humble - even by contemporary standards - often reflecting the moneyed status of the resident rector - many of whom had come from wealthy families.

Many of these homes will have great architecture, high ceilings, large rooms and substantial kitchens or sculleries with various outhouses.

So how much more are buyers willing to pay for the privilege of living in a rectory?

"Much will depend upon the area in which the property is situated but generally speaking expect to pay a 10 to 20 per cent premium.

"This, however, doesn't dampen demand - if anything, buyers are actively seeking out historic rectories and we're often briefed to help them find one, modernised or not. The problem is that they're few and far between and on top of that, they seldom change hands for obvious reasons.

"Demand isn't particular to any one area of the UK either - their appeal is universal across the country"

Bruce Tolmie-Thomson

Knight Frank Partner, Regional Chair

01285 367741