Penny Churchill looks at Chicheley Hall, a house that Simon Jenkins poured praise on in his book 'England's Thousand Best Houses'.
A purchaser with grand ambitions and the means to achieve them can pick up a Buckinghamshire bargain in the shape of Grade I-listed Chicheley Hall at Chicheley, four miles from Olney and seven miles from Milton Keynes, for which Knight Frank seek ‘offers over £7m’ on behalf of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest independent scientific academy.
Since 2008, the society has spent an estimated £12 million acquiring the hall and its private 75-acre estate, restoring the exquisite early-Georgian mansion and converting its two Grade II*-listed stable blocks to provide a total of 48 en-suite bedrooms, meeting rooms and reception areas, plus transforming the former coach house into a superbly equipped conference centre.
Before its acquisition by the Royal Society, Chicheley Hall had been owned by only two families, that of Sir John Chester, who had it built by William Kent, with the help of Francis Smith of Warwick, between 1720 and 1724, and the Beatty family, who bought it in 1952.
It remained largely unaltered throughout that time and was described in Simon Jenkins’s England’s Thousand Best Houses as ‘an architectural jewel of a house… (its) interior as sumptuous as the exterior’.
Knight Frank expect this remarkable property to attract interest from a wide range of buyers, given its unique architectural profile and the fact that it has planning consent for hotel, conference and ancillary retail uses.
Its 48 bedrooms, landscaped gardens and picturesque countryside setting also make it one of the country’s finest wedding venues. It has the potential to revert to a spectacular private demesne, too.
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