Built around 1640, Barnham Court is an important Grade I listed property located in West Sussex, about 60 miles from London. Presumed to have been built for a rich merchant, the house is in what’s called the Artisan Mannerism style. That is, English architecture created by masons, rather than architects, in the period between about 1615 and 1675, copying designs from pattern books. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner wrote of Barnham Court that the house was the best of its date to be found in the county.
Barnham Court looks a lot like Kew Palace, which to this day is a royal palace belonging to the English monarch. Pevsner wrote that the house “is so similar to Kew Palace…that the same designer must have been responsible.” The smallest of all the royal palaces, Kew Palace was originally built as a fashionable mansion for a London silk merchant in 1631. King George II, who reigned from 1727-1760, purchased Kew in 1729 as a residence for his three oldest daughters. After that, generations of royalty, most notably George III when suffering from bouts of madness, used Kew as a refuge from crowded London. Today, Kew Palace is open for tours as part of Kew Gardens.
Just like Kew Palace, the facade of Barnham Court includes three curving Dutch gables. Although Barnham was often, over its long history, part of a working farm, its style and quality marks it as a gentleman’s residence rather than a farmhouse. At one point the estate comprised 200 acres; now the property includes just 6.2 acres.
For sale for about $5.4 million via Inigo as well as well as through Phillippa Dalby-Welsh at Savills, the 7,151 square foot house includes five bedrooms and five baths. Outbuildings include a one-bedroom cottage as well as more buildings used as garages and a gardeners’ shed. The listing notes these may be able to be used for office space or additional accommodation.
The house and gardens have undergone a comprehensive restoration. Phillippa Dalby-Welsh says, “Barnham Court is simply one of the most stunning and architecturally important country houses to come to market in years. Many would like to view their homes as a work of art, but Barnham Court is in a league of its own.”
The hall room, great room, library and dining room are complemented by two recently renovated 17th century orangeries. (An orangery is a greenhouse or conservatory attached to the main house where oranges and other fruit trees were kept during cold English winters.) The rooms include fascinating original beams and other structures, such as the brick arches in the kitchen. The formal rooms are beautifully proportioned; the elegant original windows and the views over the gardens make for a lovely background. Modern touches to the house include underfloor heating and a planned carbon neutral solar energy solution.
Outside, the gardens include both formal and informal designs. Formal designs include Dutch style parterres and old English clipped and trimmed yew trees. Land to the north of the house was laid out as a wild garden in the 1930s, and a pond was extended southwards in the 1970s to surround an island reached by a bridge. There is also an orchard and woodlands, all of which are havens for wildlife. For humans, there is a heated swimming pool.
It may not be a royal palace, but it comes fairly close. Close enough, that an Anglophile American millionaire can take advantage of the weak dollar and live out their aristocratic fantasies. Listing agent Dalby-Welsh adds, “The house is situated in a prime location, which is located close to the glorious south coast and will provide a family or even an art collector with the ultimate lifestyle.”