Grade I listed, 48-bedroom property near Milton Keynes goes up for sale - with offers in excess of £7 million being taken

A Grade I listed, 48-bedroom, historical mansion near Milton Keynes is up for sale - with officials seeking offers in excess of £7 million.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:16 pm
Chicheley Hall

Chicheley Hall, in Chicheley, has been put up for sale by its owners, The Royal Society, and is on the market with Knight Frank estate agents.

The Royal Society, which is the world's oldest independent scientific academy, has been using the mansion as a venue for conferences and meetings for the world’s top scientists and it is also a popular location for private events such as weddings.

The iconic 18th-century country mansion has been shut since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown began in March.

Emma Cleugh, from Knight Frank, said: “Chicheley Hall, with its outstanding architecture, is one of the most complete surviving examples of an early Georgian mansion. The building retains its original architectural features whilst having undergone careful restoration to ensure it is fit for an array of contemporary uses.

"We expect this Baroque-style property to attract interest from a range of buyers given its unique profile and the fact that it has planning for hotel, conference and ancillary retail uses – making it a flexible asset suitable for a variety of purposes.”

The Grade I listed mansion is located on a private estate which enjoys scenic countryside views, with 75 acres of pastoral parkland including a lake, walled garden, mature woodland and farmland. The property has approximately 35,000 sq ft of accommodation.

Henry Jackson, head of Hotel Agency said: “The 48 bedrooms, landscaped gardens, modern amenities and business facilities make it one of the country’s renowned wedding and conference venues in a picturesque countryside setting.

The dining area of the mansion

"There is also the opportunity to create a spa which will further enhance its offering and develop into one of the best country house hotels in the area.”

History

The property was built in the first quarter of the 18th century in the Baroque style.

The present hall was built between 1719 and 1723, with the interior fittings completed in 1725. The house was often attributed to the architect Thomas Archer, but has more recently been attributed to Francis Smith, who is thought to have designed it for Sir John Chester, the 4th baronet.

The property's entrance

After John Chester's death the house descended to Charles Bagot Chester, the 7th Baronet, a drunk and gambler, who jumped out of a second floor window in a drunken fit. Before dying of his injuries he left all of his estates, including Chicheley, to a distant relative and school friend, Charles Bagot, on condition he adopted the name of Chester.

Charles' son Charles Bagot Chester, a gambler, rake and Member of Parliament, rented out the hall for many years. After his death the estate descended to the unmarried Charles Anthony Chester and from 1883 was again rented out to a series of tenants for the next 70 years

During the Second World War, Chicheley Hall was used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as its Special Training School No. 46. From 1942 until 1943, it was used for training Czechoslovaks for SOE parachute missions.

In 2007, Chicheley Hall was placed on the market for sale, with a guide price of £9 million. It was bought by The Royal Society for £6.5 million, funded in part by the Norwegian philanthropist Fred Kavli. The Royal Society has spent a further £12 million renovating the house.

The surrounding lake

Filming location

The hall has been used as a filming location for a variety of films including:

The Monty Python comedy The Middle of the Film segment, which shot its bizarre Find the Fish poetry scene at the mansion.

The 2001 film Enigma, which was about cracking the Nazi code, was filmed at the hall, largely because Bletchley wasn't in a fit state for filming at the time

Separate Lies directed by Julien Fellows - famous for his role in creating the ITV series Downtown Abbey - used Chicheley Hall in 2005 as a location for the story about a third person involving themselves in a marriage.

A look inside the 18th centruy Baroque-style building