Article from FOCUS Magazine – Autumn 16 issue.
Whether it is their own back story or the site they are built on, houses with history create interest when they are put on the market.
Houses with a history, whether it is their own back story or the site they are built on, always create interest when they are put on the market. Who doesn’t like to know who lived in their home – however long ago it was – especially if the property has royal connections.
The Old Manor House in Shepperton dates back to the 15th century. It was extended in the 16th century by Cardinal Wolsey who owned the estate. King William IV is said to have lodged here on a number of occasions. The property also has associations with Lady Catherine Grey (sister of Lady Jane Grey) and her husband Lord Hertford and it is believed that the two panels in the window on the main staircase are their coats of arms. This stunning looking Grade II* listed property, which needs updating, has eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and five reception rooms. The 2.5 acre garden runs down to the River Ash and the house, which has its own private island, is on the market through Jackson Stops & Staff for £1.4 million.
Another property with royal connections is The Chalet, which overlooks Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park. This building must be one of the most extraordinary properties on the market. There is a story that the land the chalet was built on, was bequeathed by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in payment for a gambling debt, which seems unlikely. The house was imported from Switzerland in 1882 and is now a listed building. It is thought that the Swiss Chalet was built along the lines of the playhouse at Osborne House for Victoria and Albert’s children in 1854 and during its heyday, visitors to the property included Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire.
Now this very unusual property has been totally refurbished by its current owner with rich, exotic overtones and is designed for entertaining. It has an indoor beach complete with sand and a stage in its basement, a spa complex, cinema room, 1,600 bottle wine cellar, indoor and outdoor pools and a marina with moorings for up to 25 boats. On top of this you’ll find two luxurious kitchens, four bedrooms, three reception rooms and many beautiful bespoke features. The Chalet, not surprisingly, comes at a price – £13 million through Sothebys’ International Realty – but could offer amazing scope for a new buyer, both privately and commercially.
“Unlike buying a new build house, where buyers will often look at everything available in a certain area and then proceed with the best available deal, buyers of period and historic homes tend to fall in love with a particular house. Buying a period house is much more subjective and older houses are anything but generic. Buyers can be instantly charmed by a property’s grandeur and period feel, right from the word go” says Andrew Russell of Strutt & Parker’s Country House department.
The agent is marketing an elegant apartment on the ground floor of a former royal hunting lodge, Kings Ride House in Ascot. The original three storey lodge was bought by John Smith in 1860 from Prince Albert, hence the address of the property – Prince Albert Drive – and has now been converted into flats surrounded by communal gardens. The large two bedroom apartment has lovely views over countryside and a splendid 20 x 25 feet conservatory. It is for sale for £725,000.
The agent is also selling Birch Hall, a Grade II listed mansion in Windlesham, which was never actually lived in by royalty, but was purchased by the Queen for her granddaughters Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice in 1997. The sisters and their mother never moved in as Sarah Ferguson (their mother) apparently was not able to afford the upkeep and running costs of the 18th century property. This fine house, set in 4.88 acres, has now been modernised and refurbished to include a striking oak staircase, a Clive Christian kitchen, media and games room, Amdega orangery and gymnasium over the garage. There are seven bedrooms and five bathrooms and in the parkland grounds, a heated swimming pool, hard tennis court, workshop or second garage and two-bedroom cottage. Strutt & Parker is selling the property with 4.88 acres for £4.25 million.
Orleans Arms Cottage in St Margaret’s, Twickenham doesn’t have a royal connection, but it was once the local Orleans Arms ale house, which opened in 1870 and closed in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. Now it has been converted into a three-storey two bedroom home with exposed beams, reclaimed floorboards and a secluded courtyard garden. The cottage is on the market through Featherstone Leigh for offers in excess of £735,000.
A Grade II listed six-bedroom, six-floor townhouse on one of the most prestigious squares in Belgravia was once the home of former prime minister, the late Baroness Thatcher. She lived there from 1991 to 2013, when the property was bought by Leconfield, the central London luxury developer. After a three-year multi-million pound refurbishment, the white stucco fronted house has been restored to a very high standard. Remnants of Margaret Thatcher’s time there include the house number, ‘73’, inlaid in the doorstep by her and a steel-lined bomb proof front door. Savills is selling the property for £30 million.
Three houses with famous musical connections are being sold by Knight Frank. Kenwood in St George’s Hill, Weybridge was built in 1913 and bought by John Lennon in 1964. He lived there for four years and it is said that much of his songwriting was carried out in the attic at Kenwood. The six bedroom house, which has been sumptuously modernised, has beautiful 1.5 acre gardens and swimming pool. It is on the market with a guide price of £8.95 million through the agent’s Weybridge office.
Milhanger in Thursley, near Godalming was built in 1907 and owned for 23 years by Queen drummer, Roger Taylor. It has many links to rock and roll, including a suite that was once dedicated to Bob Geldof. The eight bedroom house in 74 acres with stabling, pool and tennis court, also has a restored four bedroom water mill. Knight Frank’s Guildford office is selling it with a guide price of £6.25 million.
Finally, St. Ann’s Court in Chertsey is an iconic modernist house designed by Sir Raymond McGrath. Set in 8 acres, there is also a converted coach house, which incorporates a world-class recording studio, built by Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, the property’s previous owner. The property has seven bedrooms and 11 reception rooms and is being sold by the agent’s Virginia Water office with a guide price £9 million.
And then there are homes that have been built in historic locations. Burwood Park in Walton on Thames, Surrey, was once the site of a Norman manor, purchased by Henry VIII who wanted to turn it into a deer park, before bequeathing it to one of his favourite lords as a prime ‘pleasure’ plot. One of the aristocrats that owned the house was Sir John Frederick, who was responsible for much of the original landscaping and planting and the boulevard of trees – including the wide oak tree on the estate’s Eriswell Road which is still standing today. It is on this road that Octagon is building its latest mansion, Grenville House, a take on a modern manor house.
“As expected by our clients, we always select the very best locations for our houses, but when we also discover a historic connection, this is like the icing on the cake. Living in a beautiful new home on land that carries a slice of British history, especially a Royal one like Burwood Park, does undoubtedly contribute to the charm factor” says Colin Tutt, Octagon’s CEO.
There are five double bedrooms and five bathrooms, four reception rooms and a spacious kitchen/dining area/family room. Over the triple integral garage, there is a one-bedroom staff apartment. Grenville House, which is set in 0.67 acres, is on the market for £5.5 million through Curchods.
Black Potts Ait, Eton, a small island on the river Thames lying between Old Windsor Lock and Romney Lock, was reputed to be a favourite area for fishing for King Charles II. On the island is a 19th century house and boat house, with permission to build a new six bedroom house and two storey boat house.
“This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone considering undertaking a prime property project to create a private island retreat in an utterly unique setting with some of the most enviable views towards historical Windsor Castle” says Charles Elsmore-Wickens, head of Savills Windsor. The house can be reached by road, which runs under the river, or boat and has a guide price of £2 million.
On the site of the former Atkinson Morley Hospital on Copse Hill, Wimbledon and in the grounds of the ancestral home of the 2nd Duke of Wellington, Berkeley Homes is building Wimbledon Hill Park, a development of smart apartments and townhouses. Cedar Place is the newest phase of six elegant four-bedroom townhouses, built in classic Regency style. Amenities within the development include a gym, private cinema and boardroom. Prices start at £2,899,950.
Shepperton has its own unique history with its famous film studio and famous past residents include Tom Jones, Marlon Brando, Julie Christie and author, J.G. Ballard. Here, right on the towpath, is Coney Croft – a stunning contemporary house, surrounded by landscaped gardens and with a wraparound terrace from which to enjoy superb views of the River Thames. With under floor heating, high vaulted ceilings and polished wood floors, the four-bedroom house is on the market for £1.65 million through John D. Wood.
The same agent is also selling an unusual property, which could appeal to someone who is looking for a holiday home with a difference on the South Coast. Peterson’s Folly, also known as Sway Tower, has breathtaking 360º degree views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight. The 66 metre tower was built by Judge Andrew Peterson in 1869, an eccentric Yorkshireman who built the folly to be the centre piece of his estate, The Arnewood Estate. It is the tallest non-supported concrete structure in the world and within the tower are 14 rooms with a spiral staircase of nearly 330 steps. The first five floors were converted in 1990 and the tower has four en-suite bedrooms, two reception rooms, an indoor swimming pool, several outbuildings, a garage complex and a tennis court. It is on the market through John D Wood’s Lymington office, which is looking for offers in excess of £2 million.
Featherstone Leigh, 020 8744 0595 www.featherstoneleigh.co.uk
Grenville House: Curchods, 01932 843322, www.octagon.co.uk
Jackson Stops & Staff: 01932 821160, www.jackson-stops.co.uk
John D. Wood, Lymington: 01590 677233, www.johndwood.co.uk
John D. Wood, Weybridge: 01932 842323, www.johndwood.co.uk
Knight Frank, Weybridge: 01372 886738, www.knightfrank.co.uk
Knight Frank, Guildford: 01483 331852, www.knightfrank.co.uk
Knight Frank, Virginia Water: 01344 987573, www.knightfrank.co.uk
Savills, Sloane Street: 020 7730 0822, www.savills.co.uk
Savills, Windsor: 01753 834600, www.savills.co.uk
Sothebys’ International Realty: 01932 860537, www.sothebysrealty.co.uk
Strutt & Parker Country House Department: 020 7318 4613, www.struttandparker.com
Strutt & Parker Ascot, 01344 636960, www.struttandparker.com
Wimbledon Hill Park, 020 8003 6139, www.berkeleygroup.co.uk