When it was completed in 1724, Iver Grove was one of the first houses in Britain built using the then radical Palladian styling; pre-dating even Lord Burlington’s famous Chiswick House. Iver Grove is a beautiful and compact red brick essay in the use of the Classical elements with a Doric portico and topped with an elegant pediment. Although originally attributed to either Sir Christopher Wren or Nicholas Hawksmoor, it’s now more widely accepted to be the work of John James who worked with Wren on St Paul’s Cathedral and succeeded him as the surveyor of the Commissioners’ Churches. The front steps lead into a spacious and light entrance hall featuring the original oak staircase.
That the house is here today is remarkable in itself as after WWII it was in a parlous state and at risk of becoming one of the many hundreds of country houses demolished in the 1950s. The house was smothered in ivy, riddled with dry rot and had been subject to various thefts of lead and fixtures and vandals who had smashed all but one of the Wedgewood stained-glass panels in window over the staircase. The house was one of the first to be bought by the Government in an effort to save it – although this led to angry questions in the House of Commons from philistine MPs who demanded to know why we had spent more saving an “extremely beautiful house” (Lord John Hope) than we had sent to aid the Congo. Such amazing short-sightedness still prevails today with those asking why we spend any money on heritage with similarly spurious justifications.
Anyway, thanks to the Government, the house was rescued through a programme of works which included demolishing the collapsed Victorian wing – and in so doing bring the house back to it original scale, and conveniently making it more manageable. So when the this grade-I listed house was first launched in 2007 with much press coverage including a glowing write-up by Marcus Binney in The Times (‘A fast track to perfection‘) and later in Country Life (‘Georgian estate for sale‘) it was thought it would sell quickly. However, £6.5m price tag was probably boosted by its architectural importance above the fact that it was a six-bedroom house with just 17-acres near to the M25. The price was probably quickly identified as the issue as in The Times article in May the price is £6.5m, by the time the Country Life article was published in December the price was given as ‘offers over £5m’. Now, two and half years later the price has dropped to a more reasonable £4.25m, and hopefully this will entice a new sympathetic purchaser with a desire to live in an important country house with manageable grounds but who will appreciate being just 17 miles from Hyde Park corner. Actually, if I win the lottery, I’ll probably go for it.
Full details: ‘Iver Grove, Buckinghamshire‘ [Knight Frank]