The UK has a rich history; from its Royal Family and great architecture to rolling hills and musical heritage, the United Kingdom is often the place to be. One aspect of the UK’s past that generates huge interest is the country estate, or stately home if you prefer. For example, Blenheim Palace received 984,913 yearly visitors pre-pandemic.
Traditional country houses were largely built in the 17th and 18th centuries, often as retreats for wealthy aristocrats living in the city. Stately homes have been admired as a symbol of status for centuries and while they remain impressive to look at, they can be something of a financial burden for owners.
After all, few people truly need 30 bedrooms and even fewer families could occupy them. Stately homes can therefore be seen as something of a white elephant due to their high running costs. That is why stately home owners have to adapt and find new ways to bring money in and fund their future.
Opening to the public
Some owners chose to keep hold of their stately homes while others donated them to charities and organisations like the National Trust. One of the easiest ways for stately home owners to create additional income is to welcome in members of the public.By allowing organised tours to come and visit, country homes are now able to generate an income through ticket sales.
Tourism allows for stately home owners to recoup the running costs and, if they are enterprising enough, fund their future. Naturally, the larger the estate, the higher the running costs. But many country estates can consider letting out their cottages or running glamping sites on their grounds to create additional revenue streams. Larger estates may add wind or solar farms on their land to generate income and supplement their energy costs at the same time.
Food and drink
While country homes have got visitors on the premises, they might as well try and earn some more money from them. By providing and selling food and drink, visitors can make a day of their visit and spend plenty of time roaming around the grounds and exploring the various rooms or buildings.
All of that learning and exploring can be thirsty work and visitors work up an appetite in no time. With a cafe or coffee shop offering a potential turnover of £150,000, it’s clear there is serious money to be made. Considering there is a captive market within the walls of a stately home, it’s not uncommon for food and beverages to be marked up above standard retail prices By simply providing a cafe, a stately home can generate a healthy contribution towards its upkeep.
Organised events provide significant income opportunities for stately homes with adequate grounds. The moment the sun breaks out in the UK, people’s minds can’t help but turn towards finding an open field to listen to some music in. As well as the multitude of music festivals in wide-open spaces, some are taking to smaller and more bespoke venues like country estates. Examples include The Good Life Society held at the Hawarden Estate in Deeside, Wales and Hampton Court Palace Festival in London. Naturally, these have great earning potential but there are costs to hosting organised events.
For starters, there is the initial outlay of getting the talent to come to your festival. Then, hiring security firms and establishing parking, pedestrian passageways and perimeter fencing ensures events remain as secure as possible. It’s also important to provide food and drink plus welfare facilities like medical professionals, toilets and quiet areas.
For the bride who wants to feel like a regular Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, there is the option to host a wedding at a country manor. While not every stately home offers its grounds and rooms to wedding parties, some do.
The wedding business is a lucrative one, with the average wedding in the UK in 2021 costing £17,300. Wedding parties shelled out £7,600 on average for venue hire, which represents another great revenue stream for stately homes and their owners.
Open for hire
It’s not just weddings that country houses welcome, many around the country open their doors to people looking for a place to host their glamorous event. From family celebrations to work dos and corporate events, stately homes make great venues. Many stately homes, and even castles, not only accommodate parties but welcome guests to stay in their rooms overnight. Of course, this doesn’t exactly come cheap. Yes, these homes are more accommodating than you might imagine but they do cost as much as you may be expecting. For instance, North Cadbury Court is available for weekend hire from £12,500.
However, larger and more exclusive stately homes are really only available to exclusive client bases; think billionaires on vacation or luxury brands shooting an advertisement. They need to offer the privacy and comfort that modern boutique hotels can offer, which may mean significant security upgrades.
Be your own lord or lady of the manor
We have found some of the finest examples of homes on the market with Fine & Country to rival the UK's best stately homes.
1. Llanbadoc, Usk, 6 Bedrooms
This stunning Georgian style detached residence is beautifully presented throughout, boasting six spacious bedrooms, an orangery, and a spacious annex to the rear. With substantial investment and updating having been completed over the last six years, underfloor heating and double glazing are present throughout, as well as a thoroughly modern sound system and a bespoke fitted kitchen. The first floor is a vast galleried landing with access to a luxury master bedroom suite, complete with a lavish en-suite and extensive dressing room.
2. Sherbourne, Warwickshire, 9 Bedrooms
Sherbourne Manor is a beautifully restored and presented Grade II listed Regency Country home, with many period features including elegant sash windows, cornicing, and high ceilings. The reception hall runs centrally through the main house, with elegant stairs rising to the first floor where you’ll find five double bedrooms, all with en-suite bath or shower rooms. There are fine views from throughout the home of the surrounding gardens, parkland, lakes, and streams. Outside, a full size croquet lawn and tennis court sit offer up a wealth of sporting opportunities, as well as an indoor pool and gym complex accessible through the main house.
3. Bold, Merseyside, 4 Bedrooms
A truly magnificent Grade II listed Georgian building affording approximately fourteen acres of land, this farmhouse set in the former Bold Hall estate presents a genuinely unique opportunity. Purchased by the current owners as a project, The renovation has modernised this character property whilst remaining sympathetic to its history and heritage. A grand L shaped entrance hall is accessed through a sizeable front door, and a formal lounge, furnished with polished wooden flooring, sits to one side. The grand staircase gives access to the first floor, opening on to an extremely impressive landing with four generous double bedrooms.
4. Peakirk, Cambridgeshire, 6 Bedrooms
A magnificent Grade II starred Georgian stone property has been exquisitely refurbished and now presents as a stunning six bedroom home with five reception rooms set over three floors perfect for a modern lifestyle yet retaining all the grandeur of such an elegant and majestic building. The charming grounds have been creatively designed to provide different spaces to relax and an outbuilding beside a courtyard offers further potential (subject to planning).
5. Whittington, West Midlands, 6 Bedrooms
Whittington Old Hall is steeped in rich history that dates back to the 16th Century, cleverly combining fabulous period features with modern family living. The entrance is approached through two-storey moulded stone arch with contemporary glass door, which in turn opens into the main reception room. A grand staircase leads up to the two upper floors with six bedrooms, including a stunning master bedroom with a delightful window seat to relax and enjoy views of the gardens. The beautifully landscaped main lawn is surrounded by mature trees, and a clipped yew hedge dividing the garden from the gated driveway.
6. Halifax, West Yorkshire, 6 Bedrooms
Ashday Hall is a magnificent Grade II listed 18th century manor house, with grounds including formal gardens, tennis court, orchard, parkland, woodland and grazing. The Hall is ornately finished throughout, a grand entrance hall leading through to the drawing and dining rooms featuring curved bay windows with enviable views over the garden and parkland beyond. The first floor accommodation is equally grand with five bedrooms and three bathrooms in addition to the master bedroom suite with dressing room ensuite. The billiard room and second sitting room with an impressive fireplace provide comforting environments in which to relax and unwind.
7. Mytchett, Surrey
In the heart of glorious Surrey countryside, set within 11.8 acres of mature parkland is this magnificent property. A beautiful period country house, this is a property rich in history and heritage, with an abundance of original period features and character. Occupying a private and secure location, the property is approached via a long, gated driveway, offering your first glimpse of this beautiful home in all its glory. The principal building, exuding grandeur at every turn with a stunning staircase off the reception hall, huge room dimensions and high ceilings, where natural light cascades through full scale windows, giving sensational views across the extensive grounds.
8. Thornton-Cleveleys Lancashire, 15 Bedrooms
Set within approximately 12 acres of private grounds, the grand estate of Ashley Hall was built in the roaring 20's and as typical for the era, the property has been designed and finished to entertain and impress the elite of society. To the centre of the grounds sits the impressive red brick detached residence that has been within the same ownership since the 1970s and has hosted many a famous face. Ashley Hall is both rich in history and features, with immaculately maintained original plasterwork and beautiful fireplaces found throughout the property. Whilst now in need of modernisation, the versatility and potential for this grand estate is endless.
9. South Darenth, Kent, 5 Bedrooms
The White House is an exceptional riverside home, boarded on two sides by the river Darenth. Whilst its private 1.8 acre specimen carp lake sits adjacent on a separate shared title to the property’s west boundary, the house, lake and land form a secret oasis of peace, completely hidden from the outside unless you know it’s there! The imposing five/six bedroom house with its white render facade has recently been refurbished to a high specification. Set over three floors with immaculate well-proportioned accommodation, the ground floor has been redesigned with modern living in mind.
10. Holwell, Leicestershire, 5 Bedrooms
Yew Tree Farm is a substantial five bedroom home in rural Leicestershire, standing in mature grounds of around 4.66 acres in total. Holwell is a hidden gem, nestled within rolling countryside on the edge of the Vale of Belvoir. Equidistant to both Leicester and Nottingham this rare home which is packed full of period charm does not have the restriction of a listed status. Dating back to the early 18th century this former farmhouse is built of local Ironstone and hand thrown mellow bricks to the front elevation. The property enjoys an extremely private, elevated position and has been the subject of an extensive programme of restoration and redevelopment over recent years.
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