St Ann’s Court is a unique and iconic modern country estate in Surrey, just 30 minutes West of Central London in the UK. The estate, which can trace its origins back to 18th Century, has been home to many celebrities, including aristocracy, rock stars and well-known entrepreneurs.
Set in 8-acres of award-winning and historical grounds and offering accommodation of just under 12,000 sq. Feet across 34 rooms, the estate comprises two substantial yet contrasting buildings called ‘The Round House’ and ‘The Coach House’ – just 50 feet apart across a serene courtyard.
The Round House (the white circular mansion) is a modernist masterpiece by renowned architect Sir Raymond McGrath who was a disciple of Le Corbusier. It is a famous English landmark, awarded a ‘building of great national importance’ status (Grade II*) by the Historic England organization.
Sought after by top photographers and directors it has been featured in countless books, films, TV series and magazines. It is frequently called ‘a place which keeps giving’ because of its legendary curves and light, and its perfect Lo p’an divisions in the Feng Shui tradition.
The second building (Tuscan red) was The Coach House for the original 18th Century mansion which was the home to Sir Charles Fox and later Lady Holland and in the 1920s to Sir William Berry (then owner of Financial Times and The Telegraph). In the 1980s, it was converted into a world-class music studio and an expansive home office by Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music where the group and many other top musicians recorded their hits.
The interiors of The Coach House are thoroughly contemporary with double height ceilings and it doubles up as a large entertainment, party and work area. It also has a separate drive and gates for added privacy.
The estate was acquired in 1997 by the current owner, technology entrepreneur Osman Kent, and was totally refurbished in a project lasting over two years. The landmark project by award-winning architect Stephen Marshall, not only transformed both buildings inside and outside, but added 21st century comforts, including gigabit structured wiring and modern satellite, heating and security systems throughout.
The Round House
Accommodation in the main Round House is arranged over three floors (with a plant room in the basement). The entrance hall on the ground floor is one of the most spectacular of the period and is a perfect example of what Historic England admiringly refer to as “the richness of the surviving materials with mirror design, walnut and the exploitation of the unusual plan form [which make it] among the most interesting and complete 1930s interiors to survive in England”. The other principal rooms on the ground floor are the quite spectacular circular living room (with full height glazed doors onto the garden and wonderful copper-clad columns), the dining room, Mondrian inspired kitchen and library. Also integrated into the ground floor is a walled garden and garden room that, in true Modern style, blurs the line between the inside house and the outside landscape.
A sweeping staircase leads up to the first floor which has at its centre a remarkable master bedroom which must be among the most impressive in any 20th century house. It is circular in form, with full height glazed doors leading to a private balcony overlooking the landscaped gardens, through a 200 year old wisteria, and has a large dressing room to one side and an en suite bathroom to the other. There are three further bedrooms and two further bathrooms on this floor. The stairs then lead up to the second floor, which has two bedrooms (with a shared bathroom in between) and two wedge-shaped roof terraces with views of the grounds and the north downs.
The Coach House
Tuscan red on the outside, The Coach House is largely arranged over a single floor and is used by the current owner as a creative working and living space. A proportion of the building is currently given over to a world-class recording studio which was originally built by Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, a previous owner of the property, and is where many of the band’s most celebrated tracks were recorded as well as work by numerous other notable artists including Paul Weller, Robert Wyatt and David Gilmour. During the refurbishment by the current owner, the studio section was redesigned by the renowned studio architect, Roger d’Arcy of Recording Architects with a large live room and a spectacular control room.
The Coach House also incorporates two studies, a large library/board room, a beautiful double-height reception space, a kitchen, a small flat for visiting artists and a large games room. The masterly touch of the award-winning architect Steve Marshall, who was at the time a director at Munkenbeck+Marshall, is apparent in many of the details throughout the Coach House and indeed the Round House. It was Marshall that oversaw the restoration of St. Ann’s Court and his scheme is a triumph of sensitive, yet progressive, conservation architecture. Marshall also designed, and got approval for, a pool house that (subject to the relevant permissions) could be built out by any new owners. During the refurbishment by the current owners, both houses were fitted with structured wiring and have around 100 CAT5e sockets in total, providing Ethernet speeds of up to 1Gbit/sec throughout both buildings. These connections are also used to distribute Sky HD services. The houses are served by a 50Mbit/ sec Internet connection.
St Ann’s Hill Road is a desirable, quiet and secluded road on top of St Anns Hill which itself is largely a nature reserve surrounded by lakes. It is located in the picturesque borough of Runnymede in Surrey (where Magna Carta was signed) on the River Thames, just 12 miles south west of central London. Transport links are excellent with the M25 easily accessible, leading easily to the M3 and M4. Heathrow airport Terminal 5 can be reached very easily with access to Heathrow Express which takes a mere 20 minutes to Central London, (or Piccadilly Tube line which takes longer). There is also the smaller Fairoaks airport even closer for private planes.
Nearby train stations are Virginia Water, Chertsey (walking distance) and Staines. All with direct services to London Waterloo. The area is also covered by Uber. The nearby towns of Virginia Water, Thorpe, Ascot, Egham, Chertsey and Windsor offer a broad range of shopping and dining opportunities and the area is particularly renowned for its private schools (Eton College, Salesian, Sir William Perkins, tasis, Papplewick, Sunningdale and St John’s Beaumont) and sporting opportunities (horse racing at Ascot, boating on the Thames and golf at Wentworth). One of the nearby lakes is dedicated to waterskiing and wake-boarding
The grounds of St Ann’s Court (extending to over 8 acres), are a true delight, being a wonderful combination of Tunnard’s more rational Modernist outlook and Hamilton’s Picturesque approach, intertwined with woodlands. The Round House itself was designed to reflect and enhance the landscape under Tunnard’s influence: From the terrace the garden is framed by white concrete buttresses. A number of the original 18th century features remain alongside the 1930s structures. Extensive lawns, significant trees such as the Lebanese cedar, an orchard, a small lake, kitchen gardens, a rose garden, courtyards and even a Tunnard-designed semi-circular swimming pool which has been converted into a water lily pool, all can be found in these beautiful grounds.
The current owners commissioned a Japanese inspired wooden walkway through prairie beds and wildflower meadows in an area of the garden called the ‘Wanderling’, co-designed by Chelsea award winning garden designer, Juliet Sargeant and the current owner. The grounds themselves are Grade II* designated by Historic England and were featured in the bbc series Gardens Through Time and in several magazines.
The grounds have been designed and sympathetically maintainedto encourage wildlife and the garden is full of bees, butterflies, birds and small mammals.