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The Holme, Regent’s Park, which is on sale for £250 million

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Want to know what’s really great about The Great Gatsby? The Gatsby mansion itself – the palatial, ever-present backdrop, a fever dream of wealth and luxury so vividly brought to life on screen in Baz Luhrmann’s epic adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal 1925 novel. 

Fast-forward to now, and if a post-pandemic Roaring Twenties revival is indeed taking shape, it seems it’s starting with a mega-mansion gold rush. A Gatsby-esque creamy lakeside mansion, The Holme, has just hit the market. The seller? Abdullah bin Khalid Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s representative to the United Nations in Vienna and ambassador to Austria (his late grandfather, Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a former crown prince and defence minister of Saudi Arabia, bought the property from a Kuwaiti investor in 1988. And the latter had bought it four years previously from the Crown Estate for a record £5 million, according to the Times.) 

The prospective buyer will need to be among the richest on the planet – after all, it’s asking price is £250 million. Which will mean, at the point of sale, it will be the most expensive ever to change hands in Britain. But, boy oh boy, is it worth it: opulent in excelsis, it’s part of British architect John Nash’s grand design for Regent’s Park – and inside, it comes with a whirlpool – not to mention eight garages. A rural mega mansion in Central London (if it’s even possible), and with all the trimmings, tennis court et al. It’s boom time in the UK property market it would appear.

Glympton Park House in Oxfordshire


There’s the King of Bahrain, who bought Glympton Park in Oxfordshire in April 2021 for £120 million. There’s Windsor Park Hall in Surrey, snapped up by an unnamed Russian for £19.6 million in 2021 (perversely, given current Russian-US relations, it’s a neoclassical replica of Winfield House, the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park). 

The hedge-fund moguls, media stars and captains of industry who yearn to be the new lords of Britain’s manors have grand designs. At the very least, a new Versailles needs to include an orangery and a private helipad. The Cotswolds (or ‘Londonshire’, as it’s tartly called) has become one of the super-prime postcodes of England, with everyone keen for a piece of honey-coloured splendour in close proximity to Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford Organic.

The King of Bahrain in Windsor with the Queen, 2015

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Take Darina Kogan-Bellamy, the glamorous, Russian-born wife of Martin Bellamy, 53, chairman and CEO of the Salamanca Group investment firm. They’re the owners of Bledisloe House near Cirencester, a 300-year-old Grade II-listed Georgian property that has hosted everyone from the Queen to Margaret Thatcher via Winston Churchill. The couple bought the ivy-strewn palazzo in 2019 for £8.4 million.

Tatler unveils the 2023 Country House Awards in the April issue: the most coveted invitations of them all

In turn, the rich are taking their opportunities where they can get them. ‘In 2019, there were 113 country properties costing over £5 million sold throughout the whole market,’ says Crispin Holborow, country director at Savills Private Office. ‘In 2020 and 2021, this number jumped up to around the 200 mark.’

Find their fortresses in the borough of Elmbridge, Surrey, aka the ‘Beverly Hills of Britain’. A hop and a skip from London (around a 20-minute train into Waterloo or, more likely, 11 minutes by helicopter). In 2013, the deep-pocketed district paid more income tax (£1.18 billion) than the entire city of Glasgow. It’s a place where gated communities thrive, notably in St George’s Hill, just outside Weybridge, which is the crème de la crème – and brimming with detached, box-fresh Barbie mansions.

Not that new money only seeks out McMansions. The late financier Tim Hoare’s former home, Hollycombe House, an 18th-century beauty in Hampshire, was not so long ago sold to an Indian hedge-fund tycoon for a rumoured £25 million. And Chris Rokos, another finance wizard this time British) snapped up the Earl of Cardigan’s former pad – the Grade I-listed Tottenham House in Wiltshire, which is being redeveloped – in 2020 for a reported £11 million. 

Raj Tanna’s Cotswolds glass house was designed to give the feel of being at one with nature

Instagram @lakes_byyoo

Meanwhile, a far more futuristic Versailles is in evidence around the corner in the Cotswolds, dreamt up by its owner, Raj Tanna. Tanna grew up in Uganda before being forced to evacuate with his parents as part of the tyrannical Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from the East African country. ‘We ended up living in one of those old Victorian terraces and I always thought it was a bit boxy and I wanted something with lots of light,’ he recalls of his arrival in 1970s London. ‘And I just decided that if I was to build something, it would be a glass house.’ It was back in 2012, when Tanna was working as the COO of Russian operations at an investment bank, that his dreams began to materialise. ‘I’d been in Russia for the best part of nine years and I was itching to come back home. I was flying to London for business and I opened the Financial Times and saw The Lakes by Yoo.’ Known as ‘the Hamptons of the Cotswolds’, The Lakes by Yoo is something special, a community of multi-million-pound dwellings that has risen up between several pristine lakes on an 850-acre Cotswold estate – the look is more Canada than the Cotswolds.

But if the plan was for a consistent aesthetic across all the houses, Tanna had a different idea altogether. ‘When I was a much younger man, I saw Sleeping with the Enemy [the film starring Julia Roberts] and I kind of fell in love with the idea of a glass house on the water. I couldn’t find somewhere near the sea to do it, and I was just struck by the beauty of the lakes.’

The ecological element is very important to Tanna and his wife: ‘We wanted the house not to interfere with nature – we wanted it to disappear. That’s why there’s a lot of glass and the glass reflects the light and the sky and the water. So, the house, at times, is much less visible than some of the others.’ Autumn is his favourite time to be there: ‘When the birds are migrating, you look up [through the glass sky roof] and can see them flying over the lake and above your head. Those things are so good, they make you feel that you’re floating on water and that the outside is in.’ But Tanna also appreciates more materialistic mod-cons: while some of the Yoo houses might have interiors designed by Kate Moss and Elle Macpherson, not all of them include a nine-seat private cinema or an elaborate games room, as Tanna’s villa does. He and his wife didn’t move in until 2018, when the house was finally completed. 

But if you want to get even more futuristic than a glass house, in Oxshott there’s Hampton Hall, a chic-in-excelsis, as-yet-unbuilt Palladian mansion that Quinlan Terry would likely approve of. It will sit within Surrey’s gated Crown Estate, part of the six flashiest private estates in Elmbridge, and, last year, was on the market for £29 million. That includes first refusal on an NFT containing the copyrighted blueprint and virtual version of your home. 

Mapperton House and Gardens, the home of Viscountess Hinchingbrooke

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Should new residents need advice on country matters, who better to turn to than a doyenne of modern manners? Originally from Illinois, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke (aka Julie Montagu, the daughter-in-law of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich) is a social-media sensation who lives at Mapperton House in Dorset, a Grade I-listed Jacobean manor that overlooks a 15-acre Italianate garden. Via her YouTube channel, ‘American Viscountess’, which has 163,000 subscribers, Montagu vlogs about everything from ‘How I met my viscount’ to ‘How to make the most perfect English cream tea’ and ‘How to identify a castle in Great Britain’.

Montagu is the prototype for the new Versailles-hunters – a stylish chatelaine who runs Mapperton with ritzy aplomb. In turn, her own inspiration has come from a painting by Ambrose McEvoy that hangs on her hall staircase: it’s of Alberta Sturges, who married the 9th Earl of Sandwich in 1905. Like Montagu, she was an American who came over during the Gilded Age and married into the British aristocracy. On further research, the parallels are almost spooky – she was a yogi, from Chicago, and rejected the norms of the British aristocracy – yet Montagu, also a yoga instructor, is living almost exactly a century later. ‘For me, it’s about this woman who is very similar to me, in that we married into the aristocracy, but we’re not conforming to the ways that I think people expect us to. I’m this American that’s come in, and I have a YouTube channel that’s helping to promote Mapperton and promote historic houses.’ 

To that end, Montagu is into her second year on a Masters in country house studies at the University of Buckingham. She’s doing her degree to further her understanding of British architecture – from the history to the windows via the chattels. Rather than a lacklustre campus classroom, seminars take place at one of London’s glossiest Pall Mall private members’ clubs. Ultra-rich new country squires, apply now.

Mandy Lieu bought Ewhurst park for £28 million

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Might that appeal to Mandy Lieu? In 2019, the 37-year-old, Malaysian-born, London-based model bought Ewhurst Park estate in Hampshire, the one-time mega-mansion of the Duke of Wellington, and is now putting it through a complete renovation. ‘There is so much history, I feel like there is a responsibility as well. Not only to make sure it’s an amazing place for the future generations, but that what I do with it is quite important,’ she has said. 

Outside, it’s all change too, with Lieu embarking on an epic rewilding, renewable farming mission. Less ruddy-cheeked farmer than svelte flower fairy, she bought the estate for £28 million, aided financially by her split from billionaire tycoon Alvin Chau, the father of her four children. If the 925-acre grounds were once an old-fashioned rich man’s plaything (a mecca for shooting, fishing and blood sports), its new millennial owner has something rather different in mind. 

Lieu, who made her name as the face of Dior in Asia, came to see Ewhurst on a whim and was instantly won over – which led to the impulse buy to topple all other impulse buys. Today, she is hatching grand plans in tandem with her west London restaurant, The Good Plot, to create a kind of farm-to-fork set-up, details of which are still in development. Lieu has said she considers the farm a return to her roots, as she grew up in a tiny village in Malaysia, where she would go to get eggs from the chickens and knew where all the meat was sourced. And like Montagu with her dedication to Mapperton, Lieu has stepped up to the task, displaying an admirable reverence for the land. 

Lady of the Manor: Cate Blanchett, the owner of Highwell House in East Sussex, which has a newly-built art gallery

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And while Lieu has embraced the changes required to be successful in her rewilding mission at Ewhurst, for some more traditional mansions to be fully alluring to the elite buyer’s modern appetites, significant alterations have been necessary. Take Highwell House, an appealing red-brick manor built in the late 1800s near Crowborough, East Sussex, which Cate Blanchett and her playwright husband Andrew Upton bought in 2016 for a reported £3.75 million. The only thing missing for Blanchett, who has a degree in fine art, was an art gallery to house her significant collection (with works by Paula Rego and Howard Hodgkin) – which has finally been green-lit, despite early fears that plans might be thwarted by a colony of protected bats.

Do you want an immaculate, gated, sparkling new Surrey McMansion? Or a storied manor with an abundance of history and acres to rewild or build an art gallery in? If the old adage proves true (as it has historically) that ‘wealth does not last beyond three generations’, then perhaps it’s best to just live as Gatsby did – a life of parties, show, flash and filigree. But then there are plenty of long-standing families in long-standing country homes. Each has its merits. And each is hotly sought-after in the new Roaring Twenties. 

This is an altered version of an article that first appeared in Tatler’s May 2022 issue