Tottenham House could become a family residence again - with £3million annual upkeep costsA planning application lodged with Wiltshire Council at the end of last month, reveals how the owners want to restore Tottenham House and its Estate and turn it into a very, very up-market and very large residence for a single family - and their entourage. The House has 240 rooms.
The annual upkeep costs - including the helipad, swimming pool, care of horses, security and staff - is close to £3million
Finding a modern use for buildings that are so steeped in history and are such valuable 'heritage assets', is difficult - to say the very least. There is a key sentence among the 305 documents submitted with the application: "A residential use is the 'lightest of touch' use for the main House, the Old Stables and for the Estate."
The Estate is to the south-east of Marlborough and adjacent to Savernake Forest. The present House was built by Charles Bruce who had inherited the estate in 1714. He asked his brother-in-law Lord Burlington to design a new country house for his family.
Much of the parkland was designed by Capability Brown. From 1820 the House was faced in stone and remodelled to look much as it is today. Under these plans the landscape will be changed somewhat to accommodate a new lake as well as new buildings.
The application states quite clearly that the plans involve "The total or partial demolition of a listed building" - a red flag to Wiltshire Council. In pre-application discussions, doubts were raised about the siting of some of the proposed new building - which will include 29 residential units (mainly affordable rent for on site staff.)
The planning application includes a five 'volume' history of the house and estate with extracts from maps from 1583 to twenty-first century. (Incidentally, on the 1583 map Preshute is Preshute, Manton is Manton, Clatford is Clatford, Axford is Axford, but Marlborough is Marlingesburgh. By the 1645 map it has become Marlingesboroe.)
The application's detail is amazing. There is, for example, a survey of the doors - and spaces were doors once were - in the main house. All 469 of them. And there is another survey of all the windows in the House.
The area of the site is 417 hectares (or 1,030 acres). One of the new features will be a tunnel - as in subterranean - joining the main House to the Old Stables which will be used a 'ancillary accommodation' including guest rooms and recreational rooms. The Old Stables (listed as Grade II*) are said to be in a dangerous condition.
The House's current official status is C2 as a residential institution. After the Cardigan family left the house, it was a preparatory school (Hawtreys) until 1994. It was then used by the Amber Foundation providing accommodation and support for disadvantaged young people.
In 2006, the Earl of Cardigan got permission to turn it into a golf resort. That plan hit the general financial turbulence of the times, and permission lapsed in 2011. In 2014 the Earl of Cardigan lost ownership of the House and Estate - but not of Savernake Forest. By that year, it is said 'the House was uninhabitable'.
Three of the 'heritage assets' on the Estate are on Historic England's 'Heritage at Risk' register. The application states: "All heritage assets on the Estate are in a very poor state of repair."
One plan to turn the orangery into a new-build Banqueting House with kitchens beneath it, has already found approval from the authorities. But sitting of a riding school and an exercise arena have been criticised.
Since the Estate is so closely connected with Savernake Forest (which is known to exist in the eleventh century), and was the site for earlier houses (a hunting lodge and the Earl of Hertford's 1575 rebuild of the lodge to replace the collapsing Wolf Hall), the area will have many hidden archaeological remains. The Estate's only scheduled monument are the remains of Romano-British kilns buried just 135 metres from the House.
What impact will this development have on the Marlborough area? The application says 69 jobs will be created - 48 full-time and 21 part-time. (Another document says it is 66 full-time jobs.) But many of those will be live-in jobs.
A document in the planning application states that the economy of the wider Wiltshire & Swindon Local Enterprise Partnership area will benefit over time by £212.4million.
In 2014 the House and estate were bought by Delancey - Jamie Ritblat's development company. There were rumours he was going to turn it into a luxury hotel (which would have benefited the Marlborough area considerably) or his own private house.
This planning application is in the name of Elephant Construction Ltd - the company's address is given as "N/A". The descriptions of this 'family' residence are so detailed, one wonders whether Elephant Construction are undertaking this work for a specific client.
You can read the planning documents here. The planning application reference is 17/12461/FUL. The application for Listed Building Consent is 18/00195/LBC - but this had when last checked no documents attached to it.