A new take on the country pile
The owner of an eccentric taxidermy-filled estate is now building family homes, reports Eleanor Doughty
On the estate at Aynhoe Park, the diggers are poised ready. They are not there to extend the owner’s vast art collection – which includes more than 700 works. Instead, James Perkins is doing something more extreme: building a trio of brand new, modern estate houses.
Perkins bought the 17th-century Aynhoe Park, a grand country house near Banbury in Oxfordshire, in 2004. The house was designed in 1707 by the English Baroque architect Thomas Archer, and later by Sir John Soane, and its 15 acres had been designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphry Repton.
When Perkins, a great lover and fixer-upper of country houses, stumbled upon the property cut up into apartments and covered top to bottom in a nasty gloss paint, he knew it was his next project.
A decade after buying the house, it is something to behold. Perkins has filled each room with modern art and taxidermy, more befitting a museum than a personal living space.
in the Orangery, a taxidermy giraffe is suspended from the ceiling, apparently held up by balloons.
Another room contains a ceilingheight Regency mirror, and a collection of old Guards jackets hangs on the wall. In a sitting room, holographic artworks of Kate Moss and the Queen by Chris Levine frame a window overlooking the estate. This will, in the coming months, include a deer park – Perkins’s next project.
But for now he is excited about the new neighbours that he will soon welcome onto the estate. He has secured planning permission for three 8,650 sq ft five-bedroom properties,
Exotic: Aynhoe’s Orangery, main; a staircase, above