French property dreams
A beautiful manor house in Lot-et-garonne used to be the home of one of the Royal family’s portrait artists, as discovers
A sumpuous manor in Lot-et-garonne
Little does one suspect the fascinating history of this manor when looking at its immaculate garden and pretty stone façade. And yet, before the current owner bought it, the property belonged to Norman Hutchinson, an artist who started life very far away from south-west France.
Norman was born in Calcutta, India, in 1932. He was the illegitimate son of Eric Douglas, the son of a Scottish earl, and an Anglo-indian slave called Florence. Norman was placed in an orphanage and soon showed signs of astonishing artistic talents which were encouraged by the patron of the orphanage, Countess Mounbatten, who sent him to be an apprentice in Calcutta where he developed a passion for pastel portraits.
He moved to London when he was 25 with his wife Gloria where he continued to paint and scraped together a few portrait commissions. However, he needed other work to make ends meet and a business selling bespoke electrical parts proved very lucrative.
After a portrait of Gloria was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1963, Hutchinson finally made his mark. Among other portrait commissions, he painted the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II.
The success of the electrical parts business eventually enabled the family to buy a couple of houses in the south of France and even move there. The family eventually left the property and settled in Morrocco, where Norman died in 2010.
Fit for an artist The property above was one of his French boltholes, where he used to paint. The current owner has not changed the layout of the house in the 15 years she has owned it although it is in exceptional condition.
The manoir has five bedrooms, including a master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and dressing room, and three bathrooms.
On the ground floor, the main entrance hall has terracotta tiles and a stone fireplace, and there’s also a summer salon, where Hutchinson used to paint, a dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, a ‘winter’ living room with a doubleheight ceiling and French doors leading to the swimming pool. Also outside is a covered terrace overlooking the courtyard and a greenhouse. There are beautiful topiary gardens which a gardener tends regularly as well as large meadows which are ideal for keeping horses.
The interiors are full of character including lovely exposed beams and an ancient fireplace in the winter salon, as well as hanging tapestries, tiled floors and large windows bringing in plenty of light.
The whole property boasts lovely countryside views and is very private. It is located close to the Château de Duras, a beautiful historic monument dating back to the 12th century, and with Bergerac just under 40km away the manoir is easy to get to.