WINGS OF DESIRE
The Sunday Times – 11 October 1998)

Enjoy the charms of a stately home without any of the worries, says Mary Wilson.

Living in a wing of a fine, period property has many advantages. You can experience the joys of being in a historic house without the usual expensive and time-consuming upkeep.  Sir Peter Holmes, a former chairman of Shell, lived in a large house in Holland Park, west London, when he was working. Now retired, he has bought the ground floor of the east wing of Wardour Castle, in Tisbury, Wiltshire.

"I bought this apartment so that I would have access to a lot of grounds, without having to do any gardening," he says. "I also travel four or five months of the year, and a place like this is much more secure. My neighbours  are nice too. It is like being in a quiet condensed village. I have a huge amount of space in lovely countryside."

Wardour Castle, a magnifi­cent stately home designed in 1770 by James Paine, has been transformed from its derelict state by Nigel Tuersley, an ecologist and developer. He lives in the main part of the mansion with his family, hav­ing sold off two of the wings and converted the upper floors into 10 enormous apartments.

The west wing is now on the market again.  This is 6,750 sq ft. on three floors  with four reception rooms (one with vaulted ceiling and 14 ft Venetian windows) and six bedrooms, plus original marble fireplaces and oak floors.  John D Wood (01962 863131) is selling it for £525,000.

A portion of Henley Park, a vast swathe of beautiful countryside just 10 minutes from Guildford in Surrey, has been bought by Hencan Country Homes, experts at converting period homes in need of tender loving care.

Since taking on the dilapidated 17th-century manor house, the husband-and-wife team of Robert and Heather Cantle has rebuilt many of the exterior walls, put on a new roof and transformed the interior.

"We are reinstating the per­iod features in collaboration Heather Cantle. The house is being divided vertically into four massive homes, all with exceptionally high ceilings.

Eleven new homes are being built in the grounds and all res­idents will have use of the 27 acres. The three- and five-bed­room homes in the Grade II listed mansion are priced from £355,000 to £410,000. The largest house is still to be priced.

“Typical buyers of these wings are people in their early fifties who have sold their estate, have a flat in London or abroad, and are looking for a home with space, but which is secure and can be left for months at a time,” says Michael Parry-Jones of Browns in Guildford (01483 531166).  In Malmesbury, Wiltshire, Charlton Park House, a Grade I listed mansion house, has been divided into 18 properties and Humberts (01249 444557) is selling the Tower House, which makes up the northeast corner of the building.  It has a magnificent drawing room with fine period plasterwork on the arched ceiling, four bedrooms and private gardens, and is on the market for £440,000. Residents can wander in the extensive gardens and parkland and have use of the great hall and drawing room for entertainment purposes. 

Nigel Tuersley