For the first time in 65 years this house might be going back into private ownership, but it will require deep pockets to do so
In 1936, there was excitement and relief when Lord Brocket, who as Mr Ronald Nall-Cain had represented Wavertree as its MP until 1934, bought Bramshill Park. This country house had been the residence of the Cope family for 200 years, but there was a danger of it passing out of private ownership as had happened to so many other mansions at the time.
It was bought as a second home for his family in more rural surroundings and further from London than Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire.
As it turned out, Lord Brocket, a man of considerable wealth, was its last private owner. He held on to the property until 1953 before selling it to the Government. However, sixty-five years later there is a chance that Bramshill Park might become a family residence once again.
This is a big country house. Bramshill Park is a magnificent Grade I listed mainly Georgian mansion, set within Grade I listed parkland, woodland and lake. It stands just over three miles away from Hartley Wintney, a charming country village in Hampshire. It is now being marketed at Knight Frank as a conversion opportunity, price on application, but expect to pay in excess of £20 million for the privilege, and then there will be conversion costs on top.
Bramshill dates to the Doomsday Book of 1086 when the estate was held by Hugh de Port. In 1347 Sir Thomas Foxley, Constable of Windsor Castle, was granted permission to enclose 2,500 acres of land as a deer park at Bramshill and Hazeley. Sir Thomas was responsible for the construction of the noble mansion at Bramshill which has drawn comparisons with Windsor Castle. The mansion then passed to the 11th Lord Zouche of Harringworth. Zouche needed a large country mansion to consolidate his position at Court and to make a statement that he was a force to be reckoned with. He reconstructed the house between 1605 and 1615.
Lord Zouche was a well-travelled and cultivated gentleman and it is to him that the creation of Bramshill House, largely as it appears today, is credited together with its walled gardens, maze and lake. The Henley family bought the estate in 1640 and remained at Bramshill until 1699 when it was sold to Sir John Cope whose descendants remained at Bramshill for 236 years. The Cope’s had a significant influence on both the fabric of the building, and its landscape. Much of what we know of the changes to the house and grounds over this period are described in a book published in 1883 by Sir William Cope, the main phases of internal change appear to be as follows:
- 1720. Introduction of the mezzanine floor and Queen Anne Stairs.
- 1812. Construction of the “Dark” corridor in the courtyard to allow independent access to the first-floor rooms and improve internal circulation.
- 1850-90. Incremental changes, mainly replacement of failing external fabric and re-organisation of the ground floor of the north wing. Introduction of bathrooms.
- 1920. Removal of partitions and walls from the former billiard room and “Red” dining room to create the Morning room.
In 1936, Bramshill was bought from the Cope family by Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket. During the Second World War, the house was used by the Red Cross as a maternity home for evacuee mothers from Portsmouth, and afterwards as a home for the exiled King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania and their family.
Following its sale in the 1953 to the British Government it became the Police Staff College in 1960, and was later home to the European Police College, the house and its outbuildings operating as a conference and training centre. Owing to escalating maintenance costs the property was put on the market for £25 million in 2013 and later sold to City & Country for £20 million in August 2014.
The property is now being offered for sale as a private mansion, along with a former coach house and assembly dining hall. It has the benefit of consents pending to restore it back to a single-family residence.