Harry Hyams leaves Ramsbury Manor, cars and art collection to the nation

Written by Peter Davison on .

Ramsbury Manor image reproduced under Creative Commons licenceRamsbury Manor image reproduced under Creative Commons licenceMillionaire property developer Harry Hyams, the owner of Ramsbury Manor who died last December, has left the manor and his extensive art collection to the nation in his will.

Mr Hyams left £450 million of his £487 million estate so that his art collection – said to be one of the finest private collections anywhere in the world – and collection of vintage cars could be preserved for the nation.

A charity set up by Mr Hyams – the Capricorn Foundation – will now work to put the collection on public display. Paintings and sculptures by JMW Turner, Edward Burne-Jones and George Stubbs will be loaned to museums and galleries across the UK.

Ramsbury Manor, meanwhile, will be renovated for public use.

Capricorn Foundation trustee Diana Rawstron told The Telegraph newspaper: “Mr Hyams was a very private person and Ramsbury Manor was his private home. Converting it in a sympathetic and appropriate way to public use will take some time.

“Putting so many valuable works of art on display, along with his large collection of vintage cars, is a big project.”

The reclusive tycoon, who was rarely photographed, was best known as the developer of the Centre Point office building in London.

Last year, he ranked number 12 in the list of richest people in the South West and number 332 in the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £312m.

He bought Ramsbury Manor from the late Lord Rootes for £650,000 – a record price for a private house in England – in 1964.

His wife Kay, whom he married in 1954, died in 2011 at the age of 91.

In 2006, a raid at Ramsbury Manor by the notorious Johnson Gang was described as the biggest ever private burglary in England. An estimated £60m of antiques and art was stolen.