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04 October 2023

Live like a king on your own country estate

By Aimee Greaves




Imagine living on an estate that’s bigger than one owned by Queen Elizabeth II. Well one person has the opportunity to do just that – if they have a spare £70 million (Dh504m) to spend.


The mansion in question is Updown Court, a sprawling 58-acre estate located in the county of Surrey in south-east England, which is the first stately home of the 21st century. It is so big it eclipses nearby Windsor Castle.


Updown Court is located 45 kilometres west of London, yet is just 20 minutes by car from Heathrow Airport. But if that is not good enough, visitors could use the on-site helipad to charter their own private ride to the airport.


On the market for just over a year, Updown Court has attracted a lot of interest. While names have not been revealed, they mainly hail from the Middle East, Russia and Asia. A sale though has so far eluded estate agents Savills and Hamptons International. John Denny, Director of Country Houses at Hamptons International, says: “We’ve had proposals on the property but they haven’t concluded, although we never expected it to be snapped up in the first couple of months. It’s getting the right person to buy it. The way it has been put together suits a particular lifestyle and there aren’t that many people who are able to have that.”


But anyone willing to invest such an amount on a home – which price-wise is in line with Bill Gates’s in Washington state and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s in London – will want a lot for their money and this house seems to have it all, including a bowling alley, cinema and two guest homes, one of which has six bedrooms and, another, three.


Mittal entered the Guinness Book of Records for his purchase, which set him back $128.25m (Dh470.6m) so this house has the potential to beat it, but there is no guarantee until the sale is finalised.


Updown is the vision of developer and entrepreneur Leslie Allen-Vercoe and architect firm John B Scholz Architect Inc. It has a number of distinctive design features, which include a pair of sweeping staircases leading to a galleried landing on the first floor, which is replica of those found in Gianni Versace’s Miami home.


But it is not the first Updown Court, for the original was built on 12 acres of land in 1924. It had many owners, including an Egyptian prince, His Highness Prince Sami Gayed, who bought it in 1977 before it was severely damaged by fire in 1987. The estate was later acquired by Allen-Vercoe for development. Even though it is a family house, there is also an emphasis on it being so grand that it is suitable for ambassadorial entertaining. Indeed, it is certainly well equipped for it with underground parking for eight limousines.


Other features of Updown include five swimming pools, one of which is an infinity pool on the roof so you can look over the countryside as you exercise, and a four-floor main house with eight en suite bedrooms on the first floor and two two-bedroom penthouses. There is also a manager’s office and security office, which will monitor the estate 24-hours a day to keep any unwanted intruders at bay.


“This is the only house like it in the UK. You can buy country estates with a stately home but it won’t have the facilities Updown Court has,” says Denny.


“It’s a one-off and it’s its proximity to London airports that’s the real attraction. It has a country feel yet you can be in London in just half-an-hour,” he added.