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

French Property News - - Contents -

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.

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