Two houses owned by superstar cook Mary Berry and her husband Paul Hunnings during the past 47 years are both for sale this week.

The pair are within doors of each other up on Penn Ridge, a few hundred yards from the village green and duck pond on the border of Penn and Tylers Green.

The Red House (pictured) belonged to Paul and Mary for 18 years. They bought it in 1970 for £25,000 and sold it in 1988 when they swapped houses with their friend Lady Heath who lived further up the road in the Queen Anne house which has been their home ever since.

Paul and Mary and Joan Heath weren’t the first on Penn Ridge to shuffle homes.

There were previous instances of owners who had reached a stage in life when it suited them very nicely to stay in the spot they loved but buy a house better suited to their current needs.

Country homes set in their own grounds on Penn Ridge have lovely views over fields and meadows yet they’re not more than ten minutes’ drive from the station and smart shops in Beaconsfield.

In May 1988, when Mary and Paul were considering a move to the Cotswolds, they invited their recently widowed friend Joan to join them on a recce visit.

Her husband Sir Barrie Heath DFC had died the previous February. He was a Spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain and won a DFC for his gallantry. 

After the war he was group chairman of the industrial conglomerate GKN.

In her autobiography Recipe for Life, Mary explains how events took an unexpected turn.

“On the Sunday evening we took Joan back to her house and…had tea in the morning room looking out over the courtyard I had always admired (and rather envied). As the sun started to set Joan turned to us and said ‘My house is going on the market tomorrow’.

“I looked at Paul and knew we were thinking the same thing….’We would like to buy it,’ I said. ‘Well, I’d like to look at the Red House’, she said.

“We agreed that rather moving around all our things we would both leave all our respective curtains, carpets and light fittings – even our beds – in place. 

“This was undoubtedly the sensible thing to do although we thought we got the better end of the deal as ours were a bit tatty compared with Joan’s.”

As well as being an extremely civilized way to move house, as Mary puts it, she also points out that swapping houses gives both sides the advantage of being able to call up the previous owner for an immediate answer to questions which always crop up when you move house like where’s the stopcock and is there an extra key for the garage.

Lady Heath eventually swapped houses and downsized slightly a second time when she bought the property on a spare piece of land at the Red House the Hunnings had sold in 1988 to enable them to afford Joan’s place.

The previous owners of that have since been the incumbents at the Red House (do keep up at the back).

But now change is afoot up on the Ridge. According to a report in the Daily Mail last Saturday Paul and Mary will soon be moving to Henley.

Their present house (9,000 sq ft, six beds, five baths, orangery, 4.3 acre grounds with cottage coach house: guide price £4m) is on Savills’ website.

Coincidentally also on the books of the agency’s Beaconsfield office is the Red House (six beds, converted coach house in the grounds: £2.65m). 

The owners there are planning to move to Dorset. Looks like the removal vans will have a longer journey this time round.