Bold decision-making and meticulous attention to detail are second nature to motorracing enthusiast and entrepreneur David Pinkney, and these qualities have been used to good effect in the renovation of his historic Hertfordshire home, Grade II-listed Flowton Priory at West Common, Harpenden, which comes to the market through Savills (01582 465002) at a guide price of £10 million.
Flowton Priory, £10m, Savills
The original Tudor priory was built in 1525 in the Suffolk village of Flowton, near Ipswich, and transported to its present location, brick by brick, by a member of the Flower brewing dynasty sometime between 1925 and 1928. According to its 1984 listing, the building was extended and altered in its original style at that time, before being sold on in 1933. When Mr Pinkney was first shown the house in the 1980s by the golfer Ken Brown, he asked his friend to let him know if it ever came up for sale. A decade or so later, in 1996, Mr Pinkney had just moved to Monaco when he learned that Flowton Priory was about to come onto the market and bought it there and then, sight unseen.
Acting as his own chief architect, interior designer and landscape gardener, over the years, Mr Pinkney has transformed a classic 16th-century country house into ‘a property masterpiece, with a timeless quality that cleverly disguises its 21st-century sophistication’, the agents say. Yet, despite the hype, Flowton Priory is no mere Tudor pastiche, but a beautifully engineered, free-flowing family home in an idyllic three-acre setting of pristine ornamental gardens and grounds, a little over half a mile from Harpenden’s well-served commuter station.
And with future generations in mind, Mr Pinkney has planted countless trees and shrubs, including 4,000 buxus, an avenue of fast-growing Ligustrum standards and four fine cedars of Lebanon (already 20ft high) to complement the priory’s ancient woodland. Far from damaging the house, the 1920s move has probably made it good for another 500 years, says Mr Pinkney, whose own contribution has been to meticulously reinforce its ancient fabric in ways that highlight its historic charm at the same time as making it work as a practical family home.
The whole house has been re-roofed. Damaged interior doors, all different sizes, were re-created in solid oak, with handles made by an Austrian blacksmith discovered on a skiing trip to Kitzbühel (‘We had no doors inside at all for 18 months,’ Mr Pinkney reveals). A range of 20 stained-glass windows was commissioned from artist Jude Tarrant to harmonise with the priory’s 16th-century windows, originally sourced from York Minster and Wells Cathedral. Seven bedrooms were reduced to five with the addition of luxurious period-style bathrooms. And a futuristic glass summer house, inspired by a building in the grounds of Marbella’s smartest hotel, provides a wonderful entertaining space for summer evenings.
Shore Hall, £2.5m, Knight Frank and Jackson-Stops & Staff
The present owner of Shore Hall, listed Grade II, is Nicholas Duthie, who, on returning from the USA 10 years ago, bought the house with 21 acres of gardens, paddocks and parkland, from the Yates family, who still own the surrounding estate. For Mr Duthie and his family, Shore Hall, with its wonderful equestrian facilities and almost 6,500sq ft of easy-living space, is ‘by far the happiest place’ they have ever lived in. But now it’s time to downsize and the hall has been launched on the market through Knight Frank (020-7861 1722) and the Newmarket office of Jackson-Stops & Staff (01638 662231), at a guide price of £2.5m.
During their tenure, the Duthies have lovingly refurbished and updated the pleasantly rambling main house, which has four main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, a billiards room, traditional domestic offices, five main bedrooms, four bathrooms, two attic bedrooms, a one-bedroom annexe and a three-bedroom cottage.
They have also revived the lovely formal gardens, laid out by previous owners more than 100 years ago. Modern amenities include garaging for six cars, an outdoor pool and pool house, an Astroturf tennis court and five loose boxes.
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