(Bloomberg) -- The summer of 2014 was a busy one for British businessman James Holder. The company he co-founded, fashion retailer Superdry, was having a rocky summer and shares were taking a tumble. His wife was pregnant. He needed a house to accommodate a growing family near Superdry’s Cheltenham headquarters. It had to have easy access to Heathrow Airport and not require much upkeep.
A 16th century manor house and surrounding estate might not seem the most obvious choice. But after an extensive renovation in the 1990s, Hawling Manor in the Cotswolds didn’t need much work.
“We had a 13-week deadline to get the house done, and that deadline was really the birth of our daughter,” Holder says. “All we had to do was cosmetic because the structural work on the house was done already, so it was just design and intelligent curation of the furniture.”
Now Holder is looking for a change. He wants to create a home from scratch—something ultramodern. So he’s listing Hawling Manor for £14 million ($17 million). (Holder paid £10 million for the property in June 2014.)
The listing with Sotheby’s International Realty comes at a bustling time for the Cotswolds. The bucolic area of the English countryside has always been a favored getaway for the moneyed class, with its historic villages and pristine properties. But the past year has brought significant luxury openings, including the Club by Bamford, Estelle Manor and Cowley Manor Experimental. All within a 45-minutes drive from the village of Hawling and its manor house.
“The growth of the Cotswolds over the last few years has just been incredible,” Holder says, describing it as a mini London outpost less than two hours from the city by car. “It’s truly turned into the Hamptons of England.”
Still, the high-end real estate market in the Cotswolds has been softening. After rising 17.4% from the start of Covid-19 lockdowns to September 2022, prices have since fallen 3.4%, according to data from Savills’s latest prime regional index.
The manor has 13,834 square feet of space in the main house, with nine bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. There’s also stables, a tennis court, a croquet lawn and an indoor pool. It was originally built in the 16th century, with additions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Holder says Queen Elizabeth I and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll visited.
“It’s really a contemporary manor that blends history seamlessly,” Holder says.
“We have the most amazing exposed beams in the property,” Holder says. “When we moved in, they were dark lacquered, so we just lightened the color and that really transformed the space.”
He compares the building with RH England, a store that opened over the summer, describing Hawling as a home with an historic exterior and modern design touches inside.
“Obviously, RH is a showroom, and we live here, but the mix of heritage and modern is what we were striving for,” Holder says.
He says he spends the most time in either his offices in the stables or in the kitchen with the AGA stove, which he says is the heart of the house.
“There’s just four of us here—so honestly, we only use about 40% of the house,” Holder says. “When we go into the other wings, it does feel almost like a surprise to us.”
His favorite time of the year at the property is Christmas, when he decorates the stone exterior with lights. Especially when there’s a dusting of snow, “This part of the Cotswolds just looks like a film set,” Holder says.
Holder suspects the buyer will be someone now living in London, or an American—an increasingly important segment of property buyers in the UK.
“The Cotswolds are increasingly popular and well known with the American buyer,” he says. “They love the heritage that you just can’t fast-track in the States.”
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