Telling an estate by its colours

Parham, West Sussex: dark red

Each of the properties on the estate surrounding this Elizabethan house, near Pulborough, is painted a deep, dark red colour. ‘Parham Park estate and Paddockhurst estate (both in West Sussex) were owned by the Hon Clive Pearson, second son of Weetman Pearson (the 1st Lord Cowdray), and Parham Park and the extensive landholding of Paddockhurst, without its mansion (now called Worth Abbey), are still in the same family ownership, albeit through trusts,’ explains Parham’s acting general manager, Christopher Schooling. ‘Lord Cowdray chose yellow for his estate at Midhurst, and for his cars in London (according to his daughter, Lavinia, as detailed in her book A Nice Clean Plate), but it’s thought that Clive Pearson chose red (called Parham Red at Parham and burgundy at Paddock-hurst). At Parham, the colour extended to the horse-drawn carts and carriages, as well as to the estate buildings and gates. In both places, the contrasting colour is cream.’

Chatsworth, Derbyshire: azure or ocean blue

Every property on the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s estate-including the impossibly romantic holiday let, The Swiss Cottage features the distinctive turquoise paint shade, because the present Duke prefers the colour to the previous green.


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Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire: deep ‘ox-blood’ red and navy

The deep red is prevalent on all the housing in the village, the Five Arrows Hotel (above), The Dairy (a wedding and events venue) and the village hall. The navy, which comes from the Rothschild family’s blue-and-gold racing colours, is more associated with the entrance gates and branding for the manor, including the signage, logos and brochures.


Belvoir, Leicestershire: Belvoir brown

‘I worked with a paint expert from the National Trust, who discovered that this beigey-brown colour was used when the castle was rebuilt in 1816,’ explains the Duchess of Rutland.


Cowdray, West Sussex: bright yellow

‘We are famous for the distinctive yellow paint (called Gold Cup) of many of our cottages, which was chosen due to the 1st Viscount Cowdray’s connections to the Liberal party,’ says Cowdray’s Samantha Collins. ‘Many other properties are painted Holly Green, and some are white or other colours, but the colours don’t reflect their occupiers’ standing within the estate.’


Roxburghe estates, Scottish Borders: Floors blue, Floors stone, Roxburghe green and Ashill grey

‘We use various colours on the estate surrounding Floors Castle,’ reports the Duke of Roxburghe’s assistant Factor, Edward Johnson. ‘These include Floors blue (above), which we use on all our domestic doors, bar the castle, and some windows; Floors stone, a grey/beige colour that we use on windows, gutters and downspouts, as well as on woodwork on the castle itself; Roxburghe green, for farm roofs, corrugated iron sheds and outbuildings; and Ashill grey, which we use on some rainwater goods.’


Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire: Dresden blue

Much of the small village of Brampton Bryan has been owned by the Harley estate since the 14th century, with properties instantly recognisable thanks to their pale-blue woodwork. ‘We use a strong pale blue that Dulux calls Dresden,’ says Victoria Harley. ‘The colour was introduced to the estate in the 1960s-before which it was green-by my father-in-law, who used the blue on houses and cottages, and a deep red on agricultural buildings. We still have remnants of all of these schemes, but the majority of properties-residential, agricultural and commercial-are now all Dresden blue. There’s no particular reason for the blue other than that we like it, and that it’s very distinctive.’


Burghley, Lincolnshire: Oxford blue

‘We don’t use one colour on all Burghley properties, although the outbuildings and courtyard fixtures are painted with Oxford Blue, made by Dulux, chosen by Lady Victoria Leatham [current owner Miranda Rock’s mother],’ says curator Jon Culverhouse. ‘Historic-ally, David Cecil, the 6th Marquess of Exeter [died 1982], who first opened the house commercially in 1957, pre-ferred a lighter “Cambridge” blue. But a darker blue, called Minster, was adopted in the mid 1980s, followed by the present Oxford Blue.’


Berkeley, Gloucestershire: hollybush green

The guttering and doors on all estate cottages have been painted with this dark-green colour for the past 18 years. Before that, Midland Railway red and cream was the order of the day. ‘I don’t know why green was originally chosen as the estate colour,’ says Berkeley’s land agent, Roland Brown. ‘But yellow has been used on the hinges of the green-painted doors in the stable yard, as it’s
synonymous with the Berkeley Hunt.’


Badminton, Gloucestershire: flaxen and charcoal

All the honey-stone properties on this quintessentially English estate are further enhanced by their flaxen paint colour-a mustard/butterscotch shade (above)-that’s used on barge boards and guttering, plus charcoal for gates and fences. The colours were originally blue and buff, as per the Beaufort Hunt’s timeless livery, but have altered over time.

Holkham, north Norfolk: dark green and cream

Each of the 300-plus properties at Holkham always looks smart, thanks to a strict painting regime that sees the windows regularly painted with Holkham Linseed Paint’s Barley White (a creamy shade, above) and the doors a very dark green (either Holkham Linseed Paint’s Holkham Green or Dulux’s Invisible Green). ‘I thought our use of green might be down to the evergreen ilex trees in the park, but my father [the 7th Earl of Leicester] recalls that it was he who decided on the dark green as a colour for Holkham properties when he took over the running of the estate in the mid 1970s, simply because he liked the colour “rifle brigade green”,’ says Viscount Coke.


Raby Castle, Co Durham: white limewash and dark blue woodwork

The majority of Lord Barnard’s estate houses are limewashed white, with blue (Duchess Blue) woodwork (above), but some properties feature a black-and-white scheme. ‘In addition to this, some more important buildings, such as the coach house near the castle, are a warm, yellowy-colour, due to the yellow ochre that’s been added to the limewash,’ says the marketing and events supervisor at Raby, Rachel Milner.

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