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Daily Mail, 12 November 1993
Will renting be the salvation of country houses? by Diana Wildman
THE LIFESTYLE of the country house set, already hit hard by Lloyd's losses, the recession and ever-escalating property running costs, continues to be threatened with sales of numbers of estates — many of which have been in the same family for generations.
But now a new trend of cash-strapped landowner trying to cope with seemingly never-ending bills is emerging. Owners of rural …………. mansions, keen to cling on to their heritage, ……….. to try to rent
out their elegant historic homes …………………… into estate cottages or servants' quarters.
In this way they hope to produce some ……………….. revenue, often running into hundred of thousands of pounds, needed annually to keep their particular slice of Britain’s heritage within the family for another generation at least.
Plesseys former deputy chief executive Michael Clark owns Braxted Park, the sprawling 18th-century mansion in Essex rebuilt in 1760 by Sir Robert Taylor, one of the then leading architects of the English country house. The Braxted park estate is set in 400 acres of parkland which includes a nine-hole golf course, church and lake.
Michael Clark has decided to make his estate work for him, because the overheads are crippling; so, to reduce his financial liability, he is letting his home during August and September each year for between £3,000 and £6,000 per week. This is not an exorbitant sum considering that whoever does rent it will have full use of all Bruxted's facilities, including the resident staff.
He also wants the house to be used as a backdrop for filming and is handling enquiries from his on-site estate office. Accommodation includes nine bedroom/bathroom suites; vast formal reception rooms, including a ballroom: and that 20th-century necessity, a leisure centre with indoor swimming pool, sauna and snooker room.
ANN LOUDON has reluctantly decided to let out Tichborne Park near Alresford in Hampshire, which has been her family's home for 800 years — her maiden name was Tichborne. She plans to move into a self-contained wing.
‘I cannot bring myself to sell the house,' says Mrs Loudon, "and I am very concerned about keeping my staff, many of whose forebears have been employed by the Tichborne family for generations. Renting it out is the only way I can pay for the upkeep of a vast mansion with swimming pool, stables and tennis courts, plus the staff who include a butler cook and fulltime gardener.
Barbara Blanchard of John D. Wood and Co’s Hampshire lettings office near Basingstoke, is letting Tichborne on an assured shorthold tenancy at around £5,000 per month. The present house was built in 1860 and is surrounded by 3.000 acres. It is a classically proportioned Georgian building with a large hall, library, drawing room and dining room that will cater for 22 people.
Evidence records that the Bishop of Winchester granted part of his Tichborne estate to make a new sub-manor for Walter de Tichborne in 1135. The original house was in existence by 1293, and its private chapel is reputed to be one of the places in which Henry VIII married
In contrast, Grade I listed Wardour Castle, in Wiltshire, completed in 1770 for the 8th Lord Arundell of Wardour, has been bought by the developer and restorer Nigel Tuersley, an ecologist. His aim is to restore the Palladian castle, last used as a small boarding school for girls, to its original splendour.
In order to bring in some immediate income Nigel Tuersley has created three large two-bedroom flats across the top floor, complete with a separate lift and has asked John D. Wood & Co to find suitable tenants at around £1,800 per month. Nigel Tuersley has a number of successful central London house conversions to his credit. Wardour’s surrounding landscaped park, designed by Capability Brown, is also being restored, even down to the replacement of each individual tree planted by the old landscapers and now lost or damaged.
A whole forest of magnolias is being replanted and Mr Tuersley is also restoring the walled fruit and vegetable garden.
Clayton Priory, a Grade II Regency house in West Sussex, is available for rent through Mary Wheat of Hamptons' London office at £5,500 per month.
Standing in 12 acres of grounds, it has an imperial staircase in the main reception room and there are three further receptions, a conservatory and five bedrooms. The Gate Lodge has a further three bedrooms.