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NORTHWICK PARK

This was the home of the Rushout family until the 20th century. After a period of use as a drug rehabilitation centre, the house suffered fire damage and was vacated. Now it has been  renovated and converted into apartments.

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Northwick Park, a wonderful 16th Century mansion house, once owned by the Spencer Churchill Family. It has been split into apartments and over 70 families now live on the estate. Image: Pritchard and Company.

An opportunity has arisen with Pritchard & Company to buy an apartment within Grade I listed Northwick Park, at Blockley, in Gloucestershire, for £1.1 million. The country house is the former family seat of the Rushout family, the Barons Northwick.

Northwick Park belonged to the Childe family from about 1320 to 1683. The estate was bought by Sir James Rushout, the son of a Flemish merchant who had made a fortune in London, in 1683, who remodelled the old house in 1686.

The next remodelling was completed by Sir John Rushout, 4th Baronet, in 1728-30 to a design by Lord Burlington complete with a Palladian east front and entrance hall in the 1730s.

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Until 1931, Northwick Park and its parish of Blockley were part of Worcestershire. It is now situated in Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.

The 5th Baronet, later 1st Baron Northwick, employed architect John Woolfe to carry out further improvements in the 1770s and William Eames to landscape the parkland. It passed down the family line, with a further remodelling in 1828-30, until George Rushout, 3rd Baron Northwick, whose widow, Augusta, left the estate to her grandson, Captain George-Spencer Churchill in 1912.

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In World War II Northwick Park was heavily used by the US Army, with the full support of Captain Spencer Churchill. They built a hospital on the adjoining site called the cinquefoil (now the Northwick Business Centre) and after the war, from 1948 to 1965, this became one of the largest Polish refugee camps in the country. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.
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When Augusta died in 1912 her grandson Captain George Spencer Churchill (1876-1964) inherited the estate and moved to Northwick Park. He gave unstinting support over a period of fifty years to the parish of Blockley. During his tenure, his cousin Winston Churchill was a frequent visitor to Northwick Park. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.

Northwick Park remained the property of the Spencer Churchill family until 1966, when it was finally sold to a syndicate headed by the Hon Michael Pearson, then the 22-year-old heir of Viscount Cowdray, one of Britain’s leading landowners. He paid close to £1 million for the estate, but had no intention of living here. “We shall have to decide what we do with the house,” he said at the time, “It will be looked after by the estate agents and run as an investment.” It actually became a drug rehabilitation centre and was later damaged by fire.

Northwick Park fell into decline and was empty from 1976 until the early 1980s. The house was then bought by developers who got permission for rebuilding the mansion and surrounding historic area, in the first phase of the development of the estate as it is today. Other development companies completed the work, adding the houses of William Emes Garden, Julianas Court, Churchill Square, John Woolfe Court and The Lodge. The Estate was taken over from Clarendon, the final development company, in 2003 by Northwick Park Ltd and thus passed into the joint ownership of the residents.

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In 1832-34 Lord Northwick built a picture Gallery, designed by Richard Hulls, to house his large art collection at the north-east corner of the main house. The Northwick collection of pictures and works of art was later dispersed in an historic sale at Christies in 1965 which attracted worldwide interest. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.
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Northwick Park was featured in Nicholas Kingsley’s book ‘The Country Houses of Gloucestershire – Volume 2’ in 1992. This image showed the west front which had survived largely unaltered from Sir James Rushout’s remodelling of the house in about 1686. According to Kingsley, “It could be an early essay in William Talman’s astylar manner.” Image: Nicholas Kingsley.
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The east front of Northwick Park is largely seen as the creation of Lord Burlington for Sir John Rushout in 1728-30, but incorporates two pre-existing towers, while the shaped gables were put on about 1788-1804. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.
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Another image from ‘The Country Houses of Gloucestershire – Volume 2’. “A distressing photograph of the entrance hall into which the house sank prior to its restoration in the 1980s and 1990s, with chimneypieces and doorcases stolen or damaged by vandals. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.

The apartment in question is known as 3, The Mansion, and approached through the grand reception room of the main house, The Hall by Lord Burlington with marble floor, Inigo Jones style ceiling and a fine pedimented Corinthian doorcase leading to a circular inner hall featuring a fine cantilevered staircase reputedly by John Woolfe. The impressive gallery landing gives access to the private entrance to the apartment.

The principal room of the apartment is the fine drawing room with dedicated study and kitchen areas enjoying a westerly aspect and forming the main façade of the house. It boasts a central fireplace with impressive chimney piece, and panelled walls featuring a Vitruvian scroll design.

The master bedroom, housed in one of the distinctive bays on the north elevation, provides a substantial and most impressive bedroom suite with dressing cupboard and en suite shower room.

The south wing of the apartment provides versatile living accommodation with a further double aspect reception room, currently a sitting room, and two additional guest bedroom suites.

Each of the rooms has deep sash windows providing wonderful proportions and some have magnificent views across the parkland. There is also a luxurious bathroom with a traditional roll-top bath. In addition the property benefits from substantial secure cellarage and an excellent double en bloc garage within the grounds.

Note
Blockley lies some three miles north-west of Moreton-in-Marsh, in Gloucestershire. If you think you’ve seen the church and 15th century vicarage before, that could be because they appear in each episode of  ‘Father Brown’, the BBC TV series, loosely based on GK Chesterton’s novels. Filming also takes place around the village, which doubles as the fictional Cotswold village of Kembleford.

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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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According to Nicholas Kingsley, the main staircase of 1828-30, which occupies a top-lit circular well at the centre of the house, replaced one damaged by fire. Image: Pritchard and Company.