No huffing and puffing will blow this 240-year old cottage down but families may well be blown away by the award-winning restoration of the sweetly named Three Little Pigs Cottage in the unique thatched village of Milton Abbas in Dorset. And finding this Grade II listed thatched cottage was a fairy-tale come true for owners, Stephanie and Harold, who fell in love at first sight, despite its desperate need for some serious TLC.
The couple had their work cut out to completely renovate and refurbish the cottage to English Heritage’s exacting standards, from replacing the roofing timbers and rotten old thatch to stowing toasty underfloor heating beneath the stone flag floors. But, after a few years of hard work, they can be justly proud of themselves and even won a building excellence award in 2016 for keeping all the period character of the cottage whilst bringing it luxuriously up to date.
From stress-free breakfasts to family suppers (with fine wines from an impressive rack!), an old extension has been replaced with a fabulous open plan dining kitchen, that’s brimming with designer flair and features a high, oak beamed ceiling with roof lights that make it beautifully light and airy. The rest of the cottage is incredibly cosy, in the classic English country house style, with leather chesterfields, Inglenook fireplaces, a Victorian bathroom and big chunky beds tucked beneath beamed ceilings.
With 3 under 5’s of their own, the owners have kitted out the house to keep children happy on the dreariest days, with a play corner of toys, books and games, a Nintendo Wii, an Apple TV and no less than 5 TV’s to watch favourite programmes and movies through Netflix and Amazon. Parents can find quiet corners to curl up with good read too and the house has all the latest tech, including iPod docks, Bose sound-system, Wi Fi and even an iMac computer in a quiet study. After more excavations outside, Three Little Pigs now has an enclosed lawn garden, swings where children can play and bi fold doors from the dining kitchen open onto a terrace for eating outdoors and bbq’s, simply listening to the birdsong and gazing at the stars.
Although Three Little Pigs is a 240 year old cottage it’s also a deceptively spacious 3-bedroom home for a family of up to 6 people (maximum of 4 adults) plus up to 2 infants (0-3 years old) in cots: the latter staying for free.. A very large open plan dining kitchen makes an impressive heart of the house, with a high oak beamed ceiling and roof lights, extendable dining table, breakfast bar, fully stocked wine rack and a contemporary designer kitchen with high spec appliances, accessories and baby essentials. The sitting room is super cosy for snuggling into leather chesterfields by a roaring fire and the cottage has a play corner for children with toys, books, games, TV with Netflix and a Nintendo Wii. If grown-ups need to check in with work, a quiet study has an iMac computer and wi fi colour printer. The cottage has three bedrooms (two upstairs and one on the ground floor in the extension with its own ensuite shower room), two of which have a TV. All three have chunky, oak super-king-size beds, iPod docks and space for a cot, with two travel cots available. The Victorian style family bathroom includes a double-ended roll top bath and the cottage has a separate WC.
Two and a half hours and a world away from London, Three Little Pigs has a truly exclusive address in the quirky thatched village of Milton Abbas, smack in between the Dorset and Cranbourne Chase Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A great gastro pub, The Hambro Arms is a very handy 100 yards from the cottage and highly recommended by the owners for its gourmet food and friendly staff. They also suggest taking little ones for the easy stroller stroll to Milton Abbey, passing the thatched cottages all down this extraordinary street and then alongside a pond, with far reaching views over the Dorset countryside. On the way back families can call at the Steptonbill Farm shop to pick up free range meats, locally sourced groceries, fruit and veg.
Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado will all deliver to The Three Little Pigs and the large Tesco supermarket is just 10 minutes’ drive, in the Georgian market town of Blandford Forum. Twenty minutes in the opposite direction, Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, with a great centre for shopping and plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants, plus an award winning Dinosaur Museum, a Teddy Bear Museum and a large play park in Borough Gardens. From Roman Times to the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Dorchester is steeped in history, with various trails around the towns and for literature lovers it’s unmistakable as Thomas Hardy’s Casterbridge.
Many little ones will be giddy to hear that Peppa Pig World is about an hour away, at Paultons Family Theme Park, while for others the highlight could be a trip of less than 20 minutes to Monkey World, Farmer Palmers Farm Park, Dorset Badger Watch or the Tank Museum! Alternatively families can plan days by the sea, fossil hunting and rock-pooling on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, collecting pebbles at pretty Lulworth Cove (25 mins) or playing on the sandy beaches in the seaside resort of Weymouth (30 mins).
Nearest medical services: GP surgery 500 metres; A&E at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester (20 mins)