Antwicks Manor is a substantial and immaculately-presented country house with marvellous late-Victorian era features, including a magnificent long room and just over three and a half acres of gardens and grounds. Penny Churchill takes a look.
Andrew Russell of Oxford-based The Country House Department is handling the sale of Antwicks Manor in the village of Letcombe Regis, near Wantage, Oxfordshire, which stands on the site of a medieval royal hunting lodge — hence the use of Regis in the village name.
Mr Russell quotes a guide price of £3.95m for the impressive former manor house, which stands at the end of a long tree-lined drive, surrounded by 3½ acres of gardens and paddocks.
Antwicks Manor, the oldest part of which dates from about 1780, was moated until the late 1800s. The house was substantially remodelled and enlarged in the late 1890s and early 1900s by the fearsome Irish-born racehorse owner and breeder Richard ‘Boss’ Croker, who planned to establish a stud farm on the adjoining land.
Scion of an old Irish Protestant family, Croker’s father wasted his inheritance and was forced to start afresh in New York. There, the young Richard made a name for himself as a street fighter and a budding politician, who was happy to win elections or business deals by means fair or foul.
Having made a vast fortune through mainly dubious means, an impending police investigation persuaded him to leave for rural England, where he lived in some style between London and Antwicks Manor.
Croker not only had a good eye for a racehorse (he later bred the 1907 Epsom Derby winner Orby at his Glencairn stud in Ireland), he also had a good eye for a house. David Nash Ford’s Royal Berkshire History cites as ‘worthy of note that the Racing Illustrated (the forerunner of Country Life) in 1895 described [Antwicks Manor] as “few prettier places of the kind have we seen in the course of last summer’s wanderings”’.
Croker spared no expense in the renovation of Antwicks Manor, the best elements of which have been retained and updated by the current owners, who bought it in 2001.
Highlights include the Long Room overlooking the garden, the central open-plan kitchen and the magnificent games room with its vaulted ceiling and picture window.
In all, the manor offers six reception rooms, nine bedrooms and five bathrooms. Outbuildings include a stable block with two loose boxes, a greenhouse and an original Georgian ice house, converted to a summerhouse with a wood-burning stove.
Letcombe Regis: What you need to know
Location: On the edge of the Berkshire Downs in the valley of Letcombe Brook about 1 1/2 miles from Wantage. The village is almost directly in the middle of a triangle formed by Swindon (approximately 20 miles), Oxford (20 miles) and Newbury (just over 17 miles).
Atmosphere: Within the sought-after village is a church dating back to the 12th century, a pub and village shop. There are a number of clubs run by members of the community which include a book club, tennis club, cricket club, gardening club and riding club.
Things to do: The Ridgeway Path to the south provides a great route for walking or riding and the nearby market town of Wantage has a great selection of pubs and an attractive market square. The UK’s second largest equestrian training centre is also located 10 miles to the south at Lambourn.
Schools: Local reputable schools include St. Helen and St.Katharine, Radley College, Pinewood, St. Hugh’s, Cothill, Marlborough and Downe House.
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