If an almost perfect example of a Grade-I listed, Charles II house set in beautiful protected parkland but only an hour from London was available for £4.5m you might think there was a typo. However, it’s true but there are one or two minor catches.
Firstly, Ashdown House , built in 1661, is owned by the National Trust so your £4.5m only gets you a 60-year lease (or £205 a day if that’s easier). Secondly, because it’s National Trust, the house is also open to visitors every weekend April to October (approx 2,000 last year) so that they can see the impressive staircase and ascend the 100 stairs to the viewing platform with it’s fine views over the Berkshire Downs.
So, basically, this is possibly the finest second home in the country – although rather than use it at weekends you may wish to be there during the week. The current owner, Mr Max Ulfane, a businessman and well-known philanthropist, has hosted such high-profile events as fund-raising receptions for the Ashmolean Museum. Alternatively it might be possible to vary the lease to at least exclude some weekends – especially as the lease was offered with the same terms at the same price in May 2009.
*Update* The Sunday Times today (24 January) says that a 83-year lease is available for £5.3m (£175 per day for anyone putting it on expenses) and that the famous artist Anish Kapoor is planning to take a look and it has already been seen by several others including a top executive at Puma.
*Update* – Sept 2010 – The remaining lease has been taken by Pete Townshend of The Who.
Full story: ‘A grand Charles II house fit for a queen‘ [The Times]