Blast from the past

Claire Pilton discovers how to own a piece of a grand stately seat, and looks at debenture options in a rural retreat.

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For those who aspire to ancestral seat, but shrink from the synonymous responsibility and costs, a ‘stately apartment’ in an historic pile can offer a manageable slice of that lord-of-the-manor-lifestyle. “Secluded by panoramic parkland and elegant gardens that you can enjoy without lifting a finger, the historic features, architectural attributes and sizeable rooms give each apartment an inherently individual identity.” So says Helen Moore of heritage developer City & Country, whose restorations and conversions include Grade II* Bentley Priory, King Edward VII Estate and now Donaldson’s in Edinburgh. Designed in the style of a Jacobean palace around a central quadrangle, the majestic category A-listed Playfair building is being hailed as Scotland’s most desirable ‘new’ residential address.

Around 45 minutes north of central London, Grade II-listed Hamels Mansion, Hamels Park, was rebuilt in 1834 to a Gothic design. Now surrounded by the East Herts Golf Course, it has been split into 10 one-and-two-bedroom apartments that range from £350,000 to £1.1 million through Knight Frank. At Wyfold Court, Henley-on-Thames, £2.15 million will through Humberts, secure a four-bedroom apartment with three reception rooms that include the ballroom of this Grade II French Flamboyant Gothic mansion.

A vertical four-bedroom conversion forming part of the west wing of one of England’s finest Grade I- listed Palladian mansions is for sale through Strutt & Parker for £1.05 million. Overlooking Rutland Water, Burley on the Hill was constructed in the 1690’s by the 2nd earl of Nottingham with advice from Sir Christopher Wren. 300 years later it was skilfully converted by Kit Martin, the celebrated ‘saviour of the country seat’. Martin also redeveloped Grade I-listed Callaly Castle in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Sundridge Park

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Sir John Nash designed this Grade I-listed stuccoed seat, which has gardens and parkland by Humphry Repton. The latter became a golf course, the house a hotel. Launching next summer, its reconversion and restoration will provide 24 suitably stately apartments 15 miles from central London.