Is Mentmore Towers finally for sale?

Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire (Image: wikipedia)

Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire (Image: wikipedia)

After various legal battles it seems that Mentmore Towers, one of the finest country houses in the UK may be for sale.  Part of the property empire of Simon Halabi, who was declared bankrupt in April 2010, it was bought with the intention of turning it into six-star country hotel with the ‘In and Out Club’ as the London clubhouse.  The plans were thwarted by the global financial crisis which not only reduced the market for such a venture but also the financing.  Now with the recent £150m sale of Halabi’s prime London West End estate, which included the ‘In and Out Club’, putting Mentmore on the market is the next logical stage of the disposals.

The only source for this story is a blog post by Christian Metcalfe who writes the Legal blog on the Estates Gazette website which has enough details to make it sound very plausible.

The grade-I listed Mentmore Towers was built between 1852-54 for Baron Mayer de Rothschild as one of several country houses built for the Rothschild family in the area.  Designed by Joseph Paxton, architect of Crystal Palace, the neo-Renaissance house was inspired by the Elizabethan ‘Prodigy’ houses such as Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire.  Inherited by the Baron’s wife and then his daughter, it then passed to her husband, the Earl of Rosebery, following her early death.  It remained in the Rosebery family until the death of the sixth Earl in 1973 when the then Government stupidly turned down the offer of the house and world-class collections in lieu of death duties, triggering one of the finest country house sales of the 20th-century.  The house plus 81-acres was then sold in 1977 for £220,000 to the Transcendental Meditation foundation as a meditation centre, who cared for the house until it was sold in 1997 to Simon Halabi.  Since then little work has been done on the house and there have long been fears for its condition with English Heritage placing it on the ‘At Risk’ register.

The house is now apparently being quietly offered for sale, by as yet unknown estate agents, for around £16m – but no details on how much land would be included.  At that price, the house would be a bargain on square footage basis alone – but it would require a huge financial commitment from the new owner to not only restore the house but maintain it in the future, ideally as a family home.  The Rothschild’s have remained very much involved with the estate so perhaps this is their opportunity to bring it back into the family – although with Sir Evelyn de Rothschild living at nearby Ascott House perhaps Nat Rothschild, the incredibly successful hedge fund manager said to be worth around £300m, might like to take a look?

Original blog story published June 7, 2010 3:35 PM: ‘Will the real estate agent please stand up, please stand up‘ [Estates Gazette] – @Christian: if I do find out who the estate agent is, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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About Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

An amateur architectural historian with a particular love of UK country houses in all their many varied and beautiful forms.
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10 Responses to Is Mentmore Towers finally for sale?

  1. Treadstone says:

    A quick look on Aylesbury vale’s planning site planning website (agree to the terms, and then search for mentmore towers) shows someone wants to renew the planning permission granted in 2007. The application was put in by Purcell Miller Tritton, but whether they are acting for those liquidating Halabi’s affairs to aid a planned sale, or for a new owner after a sale is anyone’s guess. You might want to give them a call.

  2. Andrew says:

    Following yesterday’s tweet on Wollaton Hall, it made me wonder why the current filming of the final movie in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is being done at Wollaton Hall (as the new Wayne Manor), rather than at Mentmore Towers, at least for the exterior scenes, as it was in Batman Begins (2005), although not in The Dark Knight (2008). Was Mentmore Towers not available, or did the Director want a different house for effect and to match the story (with the original Wayne Manor being burned to the ground in the first movie by villain Ra’s al Ghul). Some press are saying that Mentmore Towers is currently being turned into a resort and golf course and hence couldn’t be exclusively used for filming. I’m not sure if this means that restoration work is now continuing on the house, or whether the house has been left in such a state that filming would not be possible without spending an excessive amount of money getting it into a suitable condition. Good thing that Mentmore Towers’ design was inspired by Wollaton Hall, so they do look very similar. The interior scenes for the new Wayne Manor are also being filmed at Osterley Park.

  3. Gillian Veysey says:

    I recently visited Mentmore village and have spoken since to the English Heritage who advised me to ask Bucks conservation department what they can do to force the owner to repair the Towers before it falls into total disrepair, there have been some repairs to the roof but the service wing is in a bad state apparently. I have a personal interest as my grandparents met and worked together at the Towers in the early 1900’s, I would have loved to walk up to the Towers and yearned to be able to go into the building and walk where they had walked. It would be such a shame for this beautiful listed building, with such amazing history should be left to decay, shame on you Simon Halabi.

    • Peter Ellis says:

      Gillian Veysey,
      I am interested in your comments about Mentmore Towers as in similar circumstances my grandparents both worked at Mentmore Towers in the early 1900. They married and immigrated to Australia in 1912, arriving 17th April. 100 years ago for which I will publish a book for members of the family.
      I visited the Village of Mentmore in 2001 to enquire how my wife and I could gain access to the site as, like you, I yearned to be able to go into the building and walk where they had walked. Unfortunately I was advised not to attempt to enter. I could only see the house as an outline on the horizon – not worth seeing.
      Perhaps we could pass on some information if you are interested.

    • V J F says:

      Reading these two messages regarding grandparents working at Mentmore, my grandparents also worked there, and my mother and uncle were both brought up between Mentmore and Dalmeny House, Edinburgh. My grandfather was chauffeur to Lord Rosebury and my grandmother, a lady’s maid and seamstress. It is very sad to see this great house being neglected, but with so many people being multi-millionaires these days, it would be good to see someone restoring it to its former glory. I am sure that somewhere in the Rothschild or Rosebery family, there is enough money?

  4. lisarae13 says:

    I see that this article about Mentmore Towers was posted in 2010. Any updates on the estate and if it is truly available for sale? I would be interested in speaking to them about the estate and the details. Thanks so much!

  5. Pingback: Rothschild-shire: the grand and the glorious (2/now 3) | The Country Seat

  6. Ian martin says:

    What a pity this house is left to rot,I have very fond memories of mentmore. My relations stayed in mentmore for many years. They all moved to mentmore from cambuslang. Scotland. Ian martin

  7. BJB says:

    ………………………..2016 and I suspect things are much the same

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