THE 17th-century Cross Hall Manor, which hosted parties held in honour of Sir John Major and President George Bush senior, is up for sale – and its £1million contents are going to auction. The house s owner, the designer Lord Vincent Constantine, is askin
THE 17th-century Cross Hall Manor, which hosted parties held in honour of Sir John Major and President George Bush senior, is up for sale - and its £1million contents are going to auction.
The house's owner, the designer Lord Vincent Constantine, is asking £1.5million for the seven-bedroom, Grade II-listed house near St Neots, which he has owned for 25 years.
He bought it from the parents of a friend, sharing the cost with another friend.
But now he is planning to sell his home and art collection - likely to raise another £1million at Lyon and Turnbull's auction rooms in Edinburgh on October 12 - and spend more time relaxing.
"It is the ultimate de-clutter," he said. "We are merely custodians of these beautiful things and I have decided that it is time for someone else to enjoy them as much as I have.
"I want to travel. It's like taking off a very heavy overcoat. I want to be able to sit on a beach and read a book and think about what I would like to do today, not what I have to do.
"The house should be a family house. I don't really spend much time here."
The art collection has been gathered by Lord Constantine, 58, over the past 30 years. He started with a £5 sofa table which he bought in Bedford and drove down to London to sell for a profit. "I bought it because I loved it," he said.
After his first success, he continued to build an antiques business by buying in Bedford and driving items to London.
"The best thing about the business is that one day is never the same as another - you never know what you might find," he said.
His three golden rules for buying antiques are: "You must like it. It has to be what it is supposed to be ... and you have to be able to afford it."
Lord Constantine is a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and was asked to host a party for former US President George Bush and his wife Barbara six years ago.
"They fell in love with the house," he said. "Remarkable when you think of all the grand houses they have been in."
At the house, Mr Bush admired the painting of the ship Columbia by George Napier, which is now up for sale, valued at £40,000. The ship flies the American flag.
Until now, nothing has been sold from Lord Constantine's private collection but he said he decided to part with it six months ago.
The house, on three floors, has been restored by Lord Constantine and has three reception rooms, a study and four bathrooms. There are grounds of more than an acre.
The sale of contents includes another rare George Napier painting, the Windjammer Caernarvon Castle, valued at £18,000. There is also a collection of Regency rosewood furniture and the Duke of Sutherland's four-poster bed, as well as items of Georgian silver.
INFORMATION: For details of the sale of the contents of Cross Hall Manor, contact Philip Gregory at Lyon and Turnbull on 0131 557 8844. The items can be viewed at Cross Hall, by appointment, on September 1 and 2.
They can also be seen on line at www.lyonandturnbull.com - bidding is available on eBay and by phone. Cross Hall Manor is for sale through Fine and Country. Contact Mark Thomson on 0845 603 2825.