All clear in the Cotswolds

Will the re­gion be re­vi­talised by two of the big­gest es­tate sales of the year?

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

WITH no ma­jor po­lit­i­cal events blight­ing the land­scape for the first time in three years, this is as good a time as any to launch the big­gest es­tate sales of the year in the Cotswolds, says Clive Hop­kins of Knight Frank, who is test­ing the wa­ter with not one, but two of the re­gion’s most pres­ti­gious coun­try es­tates in this week’s COUN­TRY LIFE.

The first of these is the his­toric, 762-acre Bibury Court es­tate on the banks of the River Coln at Bibury, seven miles from Cirences­ter, Glouces­ter­shire, which boasts a house by Quin­lan Terry and a no-non­sense price tag of ‘ex­cess £17.5 mil­lion’ through Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) and lo­cal agents Moore Allen & In­no­cent (01285 648105).

Hot on its heels comes the pic­turesque, 605-acre Old Chal­ford es­tate, two miles from Chip­ping Nor­ton, Ox­ford­shire, for which Knight Frank quote a guide price of £9m; this no­table mixed sport­ing es­tate with a sub­stan­tial Cotswold-stone main house is be­ing of­fered as a whole or in two lots.

The an­cient manor of Bibury dates from at least the early 8th cen­tury, when the bish­opric of Worces­ter had an es­tate of 15 ‘cas­sati’ by the River Coln, five of which were leased to Earl Leppa and his daugh­ter Beage be­tween 718 and 745. There­after, the vil­lage be­came known as Beage’s Big­bury (a ‘bury’ be­ing a for­ti­fied place) and, later, Bibury. Af­ter the dis­so­lu­tion of the Monas­ter­ies, the manor was ac­quired by John Dud­ley, Earl of War­wick and sold to the Crown in 1551. In 1554, the es­tate was bought by Hugh West­wood of Ched­worth, who died in 1559, leav­ing Bibury to his nephew, Robert, who died in the no­to­ri­ous Fleet debtors’ prison a year later. In about 1625, his son, Wil­liam, sold the manor to Sir Thomas Sackville, the il­le­git­i­mate son of the 1st Earl of Dorset, who was ‘knight and gen­tle­man-usher in dailie wait­ing on the King’ (James I).

At this point, the main house on the es­tate was a Ja­cobean man­sion built be­tween 1560 and 1599 on the site of a for­mer Bene­dic­tine monastery, which was in­cor­po­rated into Bibury Court, a grand new coun­try house built by the Welsh wizard Inigo Jones for Sackville in 1633. The es­tate re­mained in the Sackville fam­ily for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions be­fore pass­ing by mar­riage to the Creswells, who, ow­ing to a dis­puted will and years of lit­i­ga­tion, even­tu­ally sold it to Lord Sher­borne in 1816.

In the 1920s, Bibury Court was bought and re­fur­bished by Sir Humphrey Orme Clark, whose widow lived there un­til her death in the early 1960s, af­ter which it be­came a ho­tel, be­fore re­vert­ing once again to pri­vate own­er­ship. Lord Sher­borne re­tained the bulk of the manor farm­land, which was even­tu­ally sold in the 1940s to a farm­ing com­pany, S. J. Phillips & Sons (Kem­ble) Ltd.

Most of the stone build­ings in what is now Bibury’s jeal­ously guarded Con­ser­va­tion Area were built in the 17th and 18th cen­turies, when agri­cul­ture was the source of its pros­per­ity. The 19th cen­tury, how­ever, saw a gen­eral de­cline in farm­ing and Bibury, along

The splen­dour of Bibury Court’s es­tate in Glouces­ter­shire is matched by the Clas­si­cal main house, which was de­signed by Quin­lan and Fran­cis Terry in 1986. £17.5m

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