Royal Living: A Visit at Nether Lypiatt, Princess Michael’s Fabulous Gloucestershire Home

Nether Lypiatt Manor, the former country home of Prince and 
Princess Michael of Kent in Gloucestershire.

I've always been a fan of Princess Michael of Kent. Her sense of style, intelligence and courage to speak her mind out make her a royal standout. As an interior decorator and lover of everything beautiful, Nether Lypiatt Manor, which has been described as a compact, neo-Classical manor house situated in the parish of Thrupp, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, has been the recipient of her clever taste.

James Lees-Milne thought the house was really perfect. He wanted to purchase the house in the 1950s but couldn’t afford it.  In his words, it was "perfect in every way."

Christopher Hussey described it as "singularly beautiful."

Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, author of English Manor Houses, called the house "a most covetable example of that delectable 'doll's house' style,” thanks to its “gentlemanly, well-mannered” design, a profusion of “Dutch and Classical influences” which was popular during Queen Anne’s reign. Indeed, “it's comfortable, relaxing; nothing too flashy or clever."

The staircase.

The everyday entrance hall of Nether Lypiatt Manor. Cecil Aldin prints hang over 
the paraphernalia of a country life.

The Ludwigsburg china at Nether Lypiatt Manor is presented as a decoration 
wall display in the dining room.

The house was built between 1702 and 1705 for Judge John Coxe, who was notorious for hanging convicted felons. Ironically, one of the rooms witnessed Judge Cox's son hang. To this day, his restless ghost was reportedly seen roaming around the house. But aside from his son, Judge Coxe’s prized stallion and blacksmith also pay their visit. As their death anniversaries approach every January, they would be seen entering through the main gates to the grounds of the property.

Minus the ghost, Nether Lypiatt is famous for its grandiose William and Mary staircase. A wing was added in 1923, making way for the house’s look today, a perfect square of 46 feet (14 m) on each side made more charming with sash windows, towering chimneys, hipped roofs and gate piers and railings. The house has been declared a Grade-I listed building. Such is the quaintness of the house that architectural historian Mark Girouard praised it for perfectly exemplifying the miniature look of an 18th century formal house. The house has four floors, four reception rooms, a studio, four bathrooms, two dressing rooms and staff quarters, including a tall basement and an attic floor. The early eighteenth-century paneling and original stone fireplaces survives to this day.  The house sits on 20 acres of grounds, which saw gradual improvements through the years as new gardens have been planted, including a renovated traditional flower garden to match with the authentic original arts and crafts backbone of vistas and hedges.

The panelled drawing room.

The sitting room, panelled in beech.
The yellow drawing room.  The immense scagiola table
was made in Florence just for Prince Michael.

With the passing of Judge Cox, Nether Lypiatt has been passed on to several generations of Coxes and other families. In 1914, it was sold to Corbett Woodall, who modernized and improved the house, with the help of Architect Peter Morley Horder. Bathrooms have been installed and an avenue of limes has been planted south of the house. Nine years later, Gordon and Violet Woodhouse purchased the house who left their own imprint by extending the house with the addition of the north-west pavilion, as well as improving the interior.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent had fallen in love with Nether Lypiatt Manor and had longed to purchase it although when it came up for sale, they were initially discouraged by the high asking price, considering that the house needed a lot of fixing.

Rumors of ghost haunting dejected any chances of getting purchased at a high price. When the asking price was lowered to £300,000, the couple was quick to buy, thus, the county was called "Royal Gloucestershire", thanks to the number of Royal Family members living in the area. Not far away is Queen Mary’s World War II home, Badminton, Princess Anne’s country residence, Gatcombe Park, and Prince Charles own Highgrove.

Of the hauntings, Princess Michael retorted: "I have no doubt that many old houses have some kind of spirit presence or ghost and, if Nether Lypiatt Manor has such, he, she or it, must be benign and well disposed.

"We as a family, our guests and our pets have always felt a welcome from the house from the day we arrived, and have been extremely happy living here."

A Queen Anne bed upholstered in white
embroidered satin and dark blue plush.

Princess Michael's desk.

Woodhouse bedroom

While Princess Michael really loved Nether Lypiatt, her failing fortune and the need to downsize, eventually forced her to sell the manor house. The house was originally up for sale at £6 million, although it was eventually lowered to £5.5 million. The house was purchased by Labour Life Peer Lord Drayson for £5.75 million in 2006.


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