By Mark David
LOS ANGELES (Variety) – After nearly three years on the market, knighted rock star Rod Stewart and wife Penny Lancaster have finally sold Wood House, their historic and conspicuously opulent longtime country estate about an hours drive northeast of Central London in the historic market town of Epping that was last on the market at roughly US$6.15 million (£4.725 million).
According to the Daily Mail , who first reported the sale, the septuagenarian singer/songwriter owned the estate since 1986 when he bought it for around £1.2 million and first set the sumptuous spread out for sale in 2016 with an in-hindsight unrealistic price of nearly $10 million (£7.5 million) . Despite its many luxuries and historical significance — Winston Churchill is said to have shacked up here during the Blitz in World War II — the almost 17-acre property languished unwanted as the price plummeted and the couple reportedly blamed the years-long lack of interest in and declining asking price of the plush estate to Brexit and excessive stamp duty land taxes.
Approached by a long driveway that passes through electric gates and cuts across expansive grounds, the palatial Jacobean manor house perches prominently on a slight rise with long, verdant views and a surfeit of elaborate architectural embellishment. Decorated in a flamboyant manner by high society decorator and bon vivant Nicky Haslam , the main residence has six bedrooms and six full and five half bathrooms plus a handful of antique fireplaces in just over 10,000 square feet spread over three floors.
There’s also a one-bed/one-bath guest or staff apartment atop a detached four-car garage. According to digital marketing materials , a self-contained guest cottage was available also for purchase “by separate negotiation” as was a third parcel with extensive equestrian facilities. It’s unclear if the buyer purchased the second and third parcels but, given their stone’s throw proximity to the main house, it seems likely.
A grandiose foyer with handsome carved wood staircase leads to a 30-foot long drawing room with an elaborately detailed plaster ceiling and a carved stone fireplace with an over-mantel that dates to the early 1600’s. A smaller sitting room makes for more cozy gatherings and the baronial dining room features a gold-leafed ceiling and leaded glass bay windows with stained glass inserts.
Less formal but still decadently appointed family quarters include a high-end Clive Christian designed kitchen complete a refrigerated flower storage room plus an adjoining breakfast room with four skylights in a vaulted ceiling painted as a cloudy sky while a semi-subterranean lower level contains a games room and adjoining bar-lounge plus a library/media room with integrated surround sound. Each of the five ample guest bedrooms has a private bathroom and master suite occupies its own wing with a fireplace, a huge custom-fitted dressing room and a huge bathroom with claw-footed bathtub set into a windowed bay with a view over manicured gardens. Formal gardens surround the house and give way to a swimming pool and tennis court plus a full-sized soccer pitch and a boating lake surrounded by picturesque parklands.
Several years ago, after extensive renovations, Stewart and Lancaster moved about ten miles from Wood House to a stately 18th-century Palladian-style manor house known as Durrington House on nearly 50 acres near the Essex town of Harlow they picked up in 2013 for about $6.25 million . The lavish living couple’s stateside holdings are no less grandiose and include a 12,000-plus square foot mansion on 1.5 ocean-front acres in super-swanky Palm Beach, Fla., that Stewart appears to have acquired in 1995 for $7.2 million. And, in Los Angeles, where he once owned a mansion along one of Bel Air’s toniest streets, the Stewart-Lancasters preside over an extravagant mansion of nearly 19,000 square feet in the famously ostentatious, guard-gated Beverly Park enclave in the mansion-strewn mountains above Beverly Hills that he bought in 1991 for almost $12.1 million and photographed in all its glossy, showy splendor for Architectural Digest in 2007.
Listing photos: Savills