|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/05/24 10:28 国际在线|
It is the dilemma that faces all parents whose children have flown the nest: should they sell their home and find somewhere a little less spacious, or hang on and hope to fill the empty rooms with hordes of grandchildren?
Even royalty is rarely spared this quandary and, in the case of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the decision has been taken to sell. They have put their Gloucestershire home on the market, asking for offers of more than ￡6 million.
Nether Lypiatt Manor, a Grade I listed house close to Stroud, is considered one of the most beautiful homes in England.
A perfectly symmetrical, four-storey building dating from 1703, it has had many admirers, with a long list of aesthetes and architectural historians coveting it. James Lee-Milne, Christopher Hussey, Harold Nicolson and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd have all fallen under its spell.
The house's allure is three-fold: first, its beauty and simple but elegant proportions; second, it is large enough to confer status but, with just eight principal bedrooms and 36 acres of gardens and grounds, is still considered manageable; third, its location in the heart of the Cotswolds is extremely desirable.
Nether Lypiatt's royal provenance will do nothing to harm its desirablity. The Kents have owned the estate since 1981 and the princess, who trained as an interior designer, has been responsible for redecorating all of the house's rooms.
Because she worked only very briefly before her marriage, these give a rare insight into the princess's private taste and style and are described as "exquisite" by one of the agents handling the sale.
Of particular note are the yellow, 39 ft-long drawing room, which has seven full-height windows, and the bedrooms, covered in toile de Jouy fabric, on the top floor of the house.
The gardens have also received a great deal of attention. The princess, with characteristic energy, has overseen the planting of 2,500 rose bushes to form a maze and has designed a knot garden. There are a further 2,000 scented rose bushes interspersed with clematis and honeysuckle in the rose garden.
The princess says she had hoped to spend the rest of her life in the house, and even had the very practical plan of converting a barn on the estate into a dower house. But the fact that her children have now grown up and left home, combined with the ban on her beloved foxhunting, means that the family has decided to sell.
In a recent magazine interview she was reported as saying that she would move to France in order to continue hunting, but there are now rumours of her buying a holiday home on the north African coast.
In the meantime, the Kents will continue to live in their apartments at Kensington Palace.
Although the asking price for Nether Lypiatt may appear rather ambitious in the current climate, William Duckworth-Chad, of the selling agent Savills, remains bullish. "It's a wonderful house. The owners have done a phenomenal job - it is beautifully decorated and, while it is grand, it manages to be cosy. It's not some rambling stately home."
His confidence is matched by that of Rupert Bradstock of the buying agent Property Vision. "It is a realistic price. It's a beautiful house. It does have a particular magic and the royal association is a further attraction."
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