In the days when landed estates were a source of profit rather than status, it took the income from 400 acres of land to support one bedroom in the great house. Nowadays, it takes the income and the ingenuity of a successful banker or entrepreneur to restore and maintain a historic house, yet, miraculously, there are still people all over England willing to take up the challenge.
Grade II-listed Dowdeswell Court at Lower Dowdeswell, 16 miles from Cirencester, is a classic Palladian mansion built by the architect Charles Paul of Cheltenham between 1833 and 1837. Originally the main house to the Dowdeswell estate owned by the Rogers family from 1582 to the 1900s, it replaced an earlier medieval house which had fallen into disrepair.
Dowdeswell Court itself was in a similarly ?awful? state when London based entrepreneur James Perkins bought it in 2000 and set about restoring the Georgian gem. Only the best materials including 2,000 metres of reclaimed oak and 300 tins of Farrow & Ball paint have been used in a painstaking refurbishment programme, described by Mr Perkins as ?a real labour of love?.
Now for sale through Knight Frank (01285-659771) and Savills (01285-627550) at a guide price of ?excess £4.5 million?, Dowdeswell Court stands in a magical hillside setting overlooking the Malvern Hills. The house combines Georgian grandeur with 21st century luxury, from the dramatic entrance hall, elegant reception rooms and sweeping staircase to the nine sumptuous bedrooms and eight state-of-the-art bathrooms.
The estate lands are long gone, but the house is protected by 8.5 acres of immaculate gardens and grounds. And should the owner wish to carry on where Mr Perkins has left off, there is planning consent for an orangery, indoor swimming-pool and gym complex to replace the existing conservatory, with additional consent for a 3,500-sq.ft Georgian style house and a 5,500 sq-ft contemporary house within the grounds.
This article was originally published in Country Life magazine, November 10, 2005. To subscribe click here.