Prime rural property doesn’t get much primer than the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire, England, and last night I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by the estate’s chief executive.
Raising enough money for the upkeep of the two-hectare palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and its surrounding parkland - a world heritage site – is a full time occupation.
All home owners usually have a list of jobs around the house and garden they need to get done at some point; some pressing, others more of a wish list. At Blenheim just getting through the must-dos takes around £1m every year.
But it’s the scale of the wish-list that was really astounding. To cover everything on the CEOs list – and obviously we’re talking about more than painting the guest bedroom or tidying up the garden -would apparently cost £40m.
An estate the size and quality of Blenheim is, of course, clearly an extreme example, but it helps explain why so many of our clients use our country house consultancy guru Angus Harley to help keep everything at arm’s length.
Owning a sparkling new penthouse flat in London might sound the easier option, but there are just some things you can’t do on your balcony or roof-top terrace. One of Angus’ jobs, for example, was to organise a test-match standard cricket competition on a client’s estate.
In a cunning marketing move that has seen revenues shoot up, Blenheim is currently offering anybody who buys a day ticket an entire year of free entry. Not quite the same as owning a country estate, but at least you won’t have the repair bills.