For sale: Revolving Doors

Buyers who miss out on the trophy sale of a lifetime shouldn’t grieve for too long. Nowadays, some of England’s finest country houses come back on the market with astonishing regularity, so they will probably get the chance to buy another day, although by then the price is likely to be very


The last time Knight Frank (020?7629 8171) sold the mouth-watering Culham Court estate overlooking the river near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was in 1997, when the guide price was ‘excess £6.5 million’.

It was bought in September that year by entrepreneur Paddy Nicoll, who has spent much of the past 10 years restoring the exquisite Grade II*-listed house and its surrounding parkland. Now that the project has been completed, he and his family are moving on, and the 649-acre estate is back with Knight Frank at a guide price of £25m.

The original, early-18th century Culham Court burned down soon after Richard Mitchell bought the estate in 1760, which enabled him to re-site the house further from the busy turnpike road and take advantage of the spectacular views it still enjoys. Views which are guaranteed for all time, thanks to a covenant granted to the National Trust by the far-seeing 4th Viscount Hambleden in the 1940s, which precludes any future development.

Culham Court itself was also untouched by time before Mr Nicoll embarked on his ambitious restoration programme, which included completely rebuilding the roof, replacing all the services, and creating the dramatic formal terraced gardens leading down from the house to the banks of the Thames; the latter with help from John Sales, former Gardens Advisor to the National Trust. This gem of a Georgian country house has accommodation on four floors, including five elegant reception rooms, 10 bedrooms and six bathrooms.