What price a slice of British history?
Living on a grand scale may be more achievable than you think
Neither a vendor nor a buyer be. the past few years have not been kind to sellers of large historic houses, many of whom have had to reduce prices in a bid to attract purchasers, who in turn have had their wings clipped by the whopping Stamp Duty (SDLT) bills currently levied on houses sold for more than £2 million. Now, thanks to the law of unintended consequences, the 20% post-brexit fall in the value of sterling has brought overseas buyers knocking at the door again, says Jamie Macnab of Savills in edinburgh, who saw an immediate surge in international enquiries following the announcement of Britain’s shock decision to leave the eu.
‘door Overseas buyers are knocking at the again’
American buyers have always had a romantic attachment to Scotland and Mr Macnab is hoping that the new financial order will kickstart demand for some wonderful houses whose prices have been reduced to a level where they now look exceptional value for money. One of these is the imposing, Category A-listed Castle Gogar (Fig 1) —an impeccably restored laird’s house set at the end of a long, tree-lined drive in 3.65 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and paddocks in green-belt land six miles west of edinburgh city centre—for which Savills (0131–247 3711) are now seeking ‘offers over £2.5 million’.
Dubbed ‘the most baronial of edinburgh’s late-16th- and early-17th-century mansions’, the castle was built for John Cowper in 1625 on a traditional L-plan—probably by the architect William Ayton—on land acquired by his father, Sir John Cowper, Lord Ordinary of the Court of Session, in 1601. the house was extended in the mid 1700s and again in the 19th century, when the Scots Baronial features such as the tower and turrets were added.
Castle Gogar was owned for more than 200 years by the Steel-mait- lands, until the death, in 2002, of the last family member. A year later, the castle was bought by the previous owner, who restored it with funds generated by the sale of four striking contemporary houses in the neighbouring walled garden. the new houses were designed by Ian Aitken of edinburgh-based architects Yeoman Mcallister, who also oversaw the refurbishment of the castle.
In 2007, the present owners bought Castle Gogar and further improved it, while retaining original elements such as the vaulted crypt and reception hall, the turnpike staircases and the turrets with arrow slots and battlements. All windows have been replaced, a discreet modern heating system installed, new solid-oak panelling added in the hall and dining room and high-spec cabling fitted in all the rooms. Luxurious, top-of-the-range bathrooms are by Villeroy & Boch and Heritage, with an impressive kitchen and master bedroom designed by Clive Christian.
Castle Gogar boasts a manageable 8,900sq ft of living space on four floors: accommodation includes grand drawing and dining rooms, a library, a study, a sumptuous master suite with a bathroom, a shower room, a sauna and a dressing room, four further bedrooms and bathrooms and a two-bedroom west wing. With underfloor heating on the ground floor and in the bathrooms, it all adds up to a level of comfort rarely found in historic houses north of the border.
South of the border in Cheshire, joint agents Savills and Jackson-stops & Staff thought the worst of the recession was over when, in August 2013, they launched the classic, Georgian, Grade Ii*-listed Bulkeley Hall (Fig 2)