The 41-year-lease for "one of the most spectacular country houses in England" has been put on the market for £4.5m. The 17th Century Ashdown House, in Lambourn Downs, in Oxfordshire, has been owned by the National Trust but was sold on a 60-year lease in 1990."
"Set high on the rolling, windswept Berkshire Downs, Ashdown House is one of the loneliest and most romantic of country houses. Its tall, narrow proportions give it an air of unreality it looks like an oversized doll's house plucked from the playroom and abandoned in the English countryside.
It is a wonderful deception. The honey- and cream-coloured house may be imposing, even dour, from the outside, but inside, despite more than 8,000 sq ft of living space, it is surprisingly cosy and eminently liveable. The scent of lilies hangs in the air; the heavily furnished rooms drip with art and ornaments, many in the same Dutch style as the property itself, which was built in the 1660s.
Even in the current depressed climate, such a jewel of a house could sell for £12m-£15m yet it is on the market for £4.5m. The reason? It is owned by the National Trust, and that £4.5m buys you only a 41-year lease, for which you will pay a peppercorn rent of 5p a year although the trust has indicated that it would be prepared to extend it to 99 years for a further £1m."
"It is quite rare for the National Trust to sell long leases on its larger mansion properties," says Richard Henderson, the NT's property manager in Oxfordshire. "It is one of the most beautiful properties we have."