A 27-acre estate in Northamptonshire, England, with an important 16th and 17th century manor house, along with an even more important destroyed castle, is for sale by the late Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The Duke was most recently seen on the world stage walking in the state cortege at the queen’s funeral on September 14.
Grade II listed Barnwell Manor, with a stonking 30,000 square feet of living space, is for sale along with the ruin of Grade I listed Barnwell Castle, which dates from the 13th century. Crispin Holborow and James Abbot at Savills are listing the estate for $5.28 million.
The castle is thought to date from 1266. So the story goes, its first owner, Berenger Le Moyne, had to give it to the land’s previous owners because an inquiry determined that Berenger built it without a license. That’s because, back in medieval England, no one was allowed to build a fortified castle without a license granted by the king.
The original manorial estate, of which the current property was a part, was granted to the Montagu family in 1540 by King Henry VIII, The Montagu family renovated Barnwell Castle to be a family home. Ralph Montagu, who inherited it in 1684, chose nearby Boughton Hall as his main home and partly dismantled the castle. (Thanks a lot, Ralph!) Under Ralph’s ownership, Barnwell Manor, built around 1600, was subsequently enlarged. It remained in the family until 1913 when it was sold by William Montagu Douglas Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch.
In 1938 Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V, bought the estate. The Duke’s wife HRH Princess Alice, a very close friend of Queen Elizabeth, was the daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and was fond of the house her grandfather had sold. Barnwell Manor was restored with the help of the very distinguished architect Sir Albert Edward Richardson. Barnwell Manor was therefore the childhood home of the current Duke. The Duke remains the owner of Barnwell, but lives and raised his own family in Kensington Palace. Since 1995, Barnwell has been rented out.
Built of beautiful golden limestone, Barnwell Manor comprises four architecturally ornate reception rooms, eight principal bedrooms and plenty of extra accommodation. Architectural highlights include the front entrance hallway with 17th century paneling and a plaster ceiling featuring the Montagu family’s crest. Each reception room has wooden floors, impressive paneling, elegant cornicing, and period fireplaces. Plaster strapwork ceilings are an especially notable feature, although from photos it seems as though some of them could stand restoration.
The dining room has a full-width bow windowed gable, while both the sitting room and the drawing room are fitted with 18th century style paneling. An inner hall leads to the kitchen and various domestic storerooms beyond, and there’s a self-contained three-bedroom ground floor suite, ideal for long-term guests or live-in staff, that can be entered externally.
As for the bedrooms, they are many and offer a variety of options. The principal suite includes a dressing room and en-suite bathroom and two more guest bedrooms each boasting private baths, while five more bedrooms are served by two communal bathrooms. There are also two staff flats accessed off the Manor’s secondary staircase, another three-bedroom ground-floor apartment and a two-bedroom suite on the third floor.
The gardens and parkland are beautiful and quintessentially English in style. Ancient lichen-covered stones, clipped hedges, formal parterres, and ponds all combine with grazing land, greenhouses, and more outbuildings, including a bothy (a Scottish shepherd’s hut), stables for the horses, and kennels for the hounds.
Crispin Holborow at Savills comments: “Barnwell Manor effortlessly brings together stunning architecture and an illustrious history of ownership, which includes some of the most important families in British history, past and present.”
“What’s more, with Northamptonshire now being touted by many as a quieter, yet as-fashionable alternative to the Cotswolds, Barnwell Manor is ideally situated for anyone looking for a country home with access to all of the amenities available today.”