A new take on the coun­try pile

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - New Homes -

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

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