For the brave of heart — and the deep of pocket — an opportunity has arisen in Cambridgeshire which offers quite incredible potential. Penny Churchill explains more about Lilford Hall.
Historic-house lovers in search of a serious renovation project need look no further than Northamptonshire, where Crispin Holborow of Savills is handling the sale of the 321-acre Lilford Hall estate on the banks of the Nene, five miles from Oundle, at a guide price of £10m.
At the heart of the estate stands Grade I-listed Lilford Hall, an imposing, 32,400sq ft Jacobean house first built as a Tudor mansion in 1495 and substantially enlarged in 1635, before being sold in 1711 to Sir Thomas Powys, attorney-general to James II.
In the 1740s, the architect Henry Flitcroft carried out some major alterations for Sir Thomas’s grandson, also Thomas, installing the Georgian interiors, building the Georgian pavilions and adding additional storeys to the east end of the two wings.
Flitcroft also formalised the park by removing the village and church previously located to the south of the hall. The house was further remodelled and extended in the mid and late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sir Thomas’s great-grandson, Baron Lilford, and his descendants.
The estate remained in the Powys family until 1947, when it was sold to the Merchant Venturers. In 2004, the current owner and his family bought the estate and embarked on a partial restoration of the main house, including most of the ground floor and the south wing that now make up the family’s living quarters.
These parts of the house provide comfortable living accommodation, with grand, well-proportioned reception rooms and bedrooms, including the impressive entrance hall, panelled dining room and, overlooking the terrace of the south wing, the music room, library and theatre room.
Beyond that, however, things look very different. The rest of the 32,400sq ft house has been unoccupied for 50 years and now needs complete renovation, as do the Georgian pavilions (each more than 5,000sq ft) and various historic outbuildings.
Among these buildings is the dilapidated squash court, which is said to be the oldest private softball court in the world, built in about 1923 by the 5th Baron Lilford.
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