All clear in the Cotswolds
Will the region be revitalised by two of the biggest estate sales of the year?
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