Just over the Oxfordshire border, overlooking the River Cherwell lies Aynho Park. This historic 17th century estate was built in 1615 by John Cartwright.
After sustaining severe damage during the English civil war it was rebuilt and under the ownership of Thomas Cartwright was embellished further by Sir John Soane in the early nineteenth century. It remained the Cartwright’s family home until 1954 and, after half a decade spent languishing as a retirement complex, gained cult status when taken over by the flamboyant art-loving music industry entrepreneur, James Perkins in 2006. With his wife, Sophie, it became the party palace of the glitterati – Noel Gallagher held his 50th birthday party there, and it has been the location for multiple celebrity weddings and other events. Recently been acquired by home-interiors brand RH England, who have reimagined it as a landmark destination, open to the public for the first time.
Overlooking Aynho Village, the property features historic gardens by iconic English landscape architect Capability Brown, also responsible for designing the gardens at Compton Verney, Stowe and Blenheim Palace. The entrance hall with its Doric colonnades and chimneypiece of Mexican onyx was designed by Lady Cartwright, the hand-carved fireplace surround was commissioned by Sir Fairfax Cartwright (1857-1928), then British Minister in Mexico. Directly to the south of the entrance hall today’s guests will find the Salon, a graceful sitting room. Spanning the southern side of the main house is The Grand Viewing Terrace, defined by a layered composition of parasol trees, sculptural evergreens and monolithic limestone fire tables. Set upon the edge of the great lawn, these intimate lounge spaces frame panoramic views of The Deer Park and bucolic landscape beyond.
Visitors in search of a classic afternoon tea can make their way to The Tea Salon, which leads to an antechamber hosting The Sir John Soane Exhibition. Created in partnership with Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, this highlights the architect’s life and works at Aynho and other English country houses with meticulous reproductions of original drawings, architectural models and artefacts.
The westward sequence of spaces comes to a dramatic end in The Architecture & Design Library. To create this spectacular destination, Soane transformed a previous single-story wing into an airy, arch swept centre of knowledge. More than two centuries later, new owners RH honour his legacy with a carefully compiled collection of vintage, contemporary and rare out-of-print books from some of the most influential creators of the last 2,000 years.
Opposite the library is The Orangery, where you’ll find the marble hearth now flanked by custom rotisseries from France offering guests live-fire dining. The adjoining French drawing room has become a Wine Lounge, and the stable block now houses the brewhouse and workshop. In the east wing The Conservatory is an American bistro. This skylit garden escape boasts a soaring glass roof supported by structural steelwork, century-old Spanish olive trees, and three monumental, salvaged brick fireplaces. There are further culinary experiences available in the form of The Loggia (wood-fired pizza, charcuterie boards and wine) and a Juicery in the old kitchen quarters, next to the organic vegetable garden. Finally, the Sunset Terrace and Fire Pit is an open-air space, next to the 19th century garden temple.
The RH Interior Design Studio can be found in the east wing. This interactive space features private client presentation rooms, state-of-the art technology and design libraries showcasing a vast assortment of RH’s textiles, furniture and lighting finishes. Formerly the servants’ quarters, the west wing now presents artistic installations featuring luxury home furnishings collections from internationally renowned designers.
Finally, the two grand staircases now pay tribute to James Perkins and his wife, Sophie. Here you will find their collection of classical sculptures, architectural models and artifacts on display.
For more information, visit rh.com