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.