UK luxury property for sale: Inside a $12.4m fantasy Oxford mansion and royal hideout

Set in 12 acres, Yarnton Manor has links both to Narnia and Westeros

From its bustling metropolises to quaint villages, the UK offers diverse locations for luxury living. Spectacular residential properties range from historic country castles to cutting-edge city apartments. Here, The National showcases an Oxford country pile so picture perfect it recently caught the eye of Hollywood.

A home fit for a king

The origins of sprawling Yarnton Manor date back to Norman times.

From 1580 to 1712 it belonged to the Spencer family, most notably Sir Thomas Spencer – a politician who was elected as MP for Woodstock in 1660.

Sir Thomas transformed the property into one of the largest Jacobean-style mansions in the country – even installing a secret room above the main doorway in which to hide in case of attack.

It was put to good use during the English Civil War when King Charles I hid at the manor after escaping the Siege of Oxford in 1646.

King Charles I of England (1600 - 1649) once stayed in Yarnton Manor - and so could you. Courtesy Hulton Archive/Getty Images
King Charles I of England (1600-1649) once stayed in Yarnton Manor – and so could you. Courtesy Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A replica of van Dyck's Charles I on Horseback with M de St Antoine hangs in the main hall.

It was also used as a military hospital for the King’s Royalist troops.

Chance to live in your very own film set

Yarnton Manor has played host to numerous historical and celebrity figures.

It was bought in 1936 by Oxford University academic George Kolkhorst, a friend of the former poet laureate of Britain John Betjeman who himself visited the manor several times.

The British-Irish novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch also visited in 1939 as part of a touring theatre group.

Murdoch's canon is renowned for dealing with the age-old dichotomy of good versus evil – a somewhat tangential link to Game of Thrones actor Anton Lesser, who visited the manor as part of a project to inspire young people interested in filmmaking.

Game of Thrones actor Anton Lesser is one of many luminaries to have visited Yarnton Manor. Alamy
'Game of Thrones' actor Anton Lesser is one of many luminaries to have visited Yarnton Manor. Alamy

While George R R Martin hasn't visited the manor, it has played host to another fantasy fiction luminary, CS Lewis.

The Most Reluctant Convert, a film about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe author, was shot at the manor in December 2020 and is due to be released later this year.

Yarnton was also used in the ecclesiastical BBC detective series Father Brown, while Alice Roberts recently visited as part of the Channel 4 series Britain’s Most Historic Towns.

A Jacobean trove: Yarnton inside and out

Architectural detailing includes shaped gables with obelisk finials, carved crests, fluted pilasters and large mullioned windows.

Internally, details include carved and moulded stone and timber fireplaces and overmantels, original flagstone floors, elaborately panelled rooms, intricate carved timber doors, and a substantial Jacobean-style carved timber staircase.

The listed gardens and grounds of Yarnton Manor include an elegant walled garden, terraces, walkways, an orchard, paddocks and woodland.

Yarnton Manor.Courtesy Knight Frank
Yarnton Manor. Courtesy Knight Frank

The estate also boasts a number of additional outbuildings.

These include a barn once used as a library; an extensive Grade II-listed vicarage dating back to the 18th century; a purpose-built building used for student accommodation; six detached cottages; and Manor Farm – a courtyard of traditional stone barns recently converted into one three-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartment-style cottages.

Situated in the attractive village of Yarnton, the manor is between Oxford and Woodstock (famous for Blenheim Palace). London is within easy reach via the M40 or regular train services from Oxford Parkway Station.

Opportunity for Middle Eastern investors

“Yarnton Manor is a rare historical property that comes with the added benefit of being suited to a wide range of income-generating uses – something that I’m sure will be of great interest to Middle Eastern investors," said property agent, Knight Frank's Emma Cleugh.

"It was last used as a college and boasts ample accommodation to sleep up to 100 students.

We are already seeing global interest from a wide range of investors and private individuals

"With its close proximity to the world-leading University of Oxford, it could easily continue as an educational facility.

"Other possibilities that might be of interest to Middle Eastern investors include development for hospitality, leisure or healthcare.

"Another option might be to create a residential-led development, given the manor’s wonderful rural setting and historic charm.

"If commercial investment isn’t of interest, then conversion into a beautiful private home could also be an option.

"With so many possibilities, we are already seeing global interest from a wide range of investors and private individuals.”

Yarnton Manor: key details

  • Historic Grade II-listed Jacobean manor house with Grade II-listed gardens on the market for $12.4 million (£9m) with Knight Frank
  • Substantial portfolio of ancillary houses, cottages and student accommodation
  • Currently in educational use but with potential for change of use subject to consents
  • Circa 35,000 square feet of accommodation set in 29.50 acres (11.90 hectares)

Yarnton Manor is on sale with Knight Frank

Updated: March 28, 2021 03:21 PM

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