A Very Big House in the Country - £70m
Written By: Nicki Glancey / Susan Grant
The most expensive country residence ever to go on sale in the UK hits the market this week with a price tag in excess of £70 million.
Updown Court, situated in the Surrey countryside, is being heralded as the first 21st century stately home in Britain, with sweeping grounds larger in area than Buckingham Palace and Hampton Court.
Located in the picturesque village of Windlesham, near Ascot, the 58-acre estate possesses all the features of the most opulent stately piles, combined with the latest computer technology which can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world.
Located 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport and half an hour from central London, the sumptuous facilities include five swimming pools, heated marble driveway, private cinema, bowling alley, indoor squash court, all-weather floodlit tennis court and stabling for five horses.
A helipad for private landings is also located in the grounds, plus underground garaging for up to eight limousine-sized vehicles. A "throne room" is also thrown in, replete with 24-carat gold flooring, and "a panic room" to provide shelter for residents should they be subjected to a terrorist attack.
At over 60,000 sq feet, the property is between 12 and 20 times bigger than a typical Edinburgh town house which averages between 3,000 and 5,000 sq foot.
Guy Robinson, a spokesman for the estate agents Savills who is managing the sale, described the property as "a complete one-off" which is unashamedly aimed at the billionaire market. He claimed Updown Court could even be used as a weekend hideaway for the super-rich - such as Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich - where guests could be lavishly entertained in style and privacy.
He said: "The property will be marketed to the super-rich, the billionaires of this world of whom there are quite a few, and will suit anyone who wants to make an unashamedly loud statement. It will be aimed at those who have phenomenal wealth and want a 21st century stately home.
"There is simply nothing like it in Britain. You sometimes see Georgian or Regency homes which are perhaps 200 or 300 years old come on to the market, priced somewhere between £20 million and £30 million, but the modern super-rich are not really after these types of residences.
"Given their lifestyle, they will probably be flying in, entertaining, and spending the odd weekend there.
"There are reputedly around 600 billionaires in the world, and probably twice as many again that we donít know about, so there are people out there who can afford this type of house."
The property goes to market this week as a "blank canvas", so whoever snaps it up will also have to get the interior decorators in to furnish the 103 rooms in a style compatible with the opulence of the surroundings.
The house also boasts 22 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, and a sweeping double staircase in the entrance hall modelled on the Miami residence of the late Gianni Versace, the renowned fashion designer. Simon Fairclough, of the Edinburgh Solicitorsí Property Centre, said the scale and opulence of the property was "mind-boggling".
He said: "I doubt if there will be too many buyers from north of the Border queuing up to buy this property.
"I have negotiated deals on properties with swimming pools before, and heated drives are not all that uncommon in Scotland," he said.
"But add another four swimming pools, and a few pieces of marble to the drive way, and it becomes something else - simply out of this world."
The developer of Updown Court, the London-based entrepreneur Leslie Allen-Vercoe, yesterday admitted that the buyer of property would probably come from overseas.
He said: "The house certainly is opulent, and is modelled along the lines of palaces you are more likely to see in the Middle-East."
"Although we have toned it down slightly, itís still not what I would call a British taste. "Itís probably more Eastern European, and we have had a lot of interest from Russia and the Middle East," he added.
"We are talking about those with a billionaire pedigree."
Last year a town residence in Londonís Kensington Palace Gardens fetched an asking price of £70 million - then an all-time British record.
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