Whittingehame House in East Lothian, set in over 16 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland, was completed around 1817 for the Balfour family by the architect Sir Robert Smirke, who designed the main facade of the British Museum in London.
The mansion has a fascinating history. It is an A-list and has played host to royalty, aristocrats and famous writers, particularly when it was owned by Lord Balfour, who was Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905.
During his time here, King Edward VII planted an oak tree on the site and William Gladstone, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, HG Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle all visited.
The 1917 Balfour Declaration, outlining British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, was allegedly signed in the library of Whittingehame House by Balfour, then Foreign Secretary.
At the beginning of the Second World War, the house became a court school for Jewish refugee children. In 1963 it was sold by the Balfour family and became the Holt School for Boys which closed in 1980 after which the house was converted into apartments.
The four-bedroom Balfour is the largest of seven in the house and features 9,000 square feet of accommodations, including a lavish music room and a stunning library and billiards room.
Unique features include the conservatory bathroom off the master bedroom with a luxurious roll top bath for star gazing.
A large summer house has a neoclassical porch in the style of a temple.
The apartment also has access to all of the landscaped lots available – for the most part – to residents of the Balfour.
The current owners bought it in 2011 and enlarged it from another apartment in the villa. They spent 18 months and more than £1million refurbishing the house, including rewiring, re-routing and installing new sash windows.
Mark Cullerton of Cullerton’s real estate agency, which is handling the sale, says: ‘Whittingehame House is one of the finest of its kind, a truly special mansion, bursting with history. This, the main residence, has contemporary elegance, grandeur and stately details, but it’s also a warm and inviting home – and has few of the overheads associated with a home of this type.
“If it was the whole house it might be too much, but that’s a manageable size with the added benefit of a private lot.”
For those on budgets under £1m, Cullerton’s has just launched the garden apartment at Whittingehame House, while Knight Frank is currently finalizing the sale of a first floor apartment on the property.
Mark says of the Balfour, ‘It’s a joy to live in and enjoy as a family home, but is also very suitable for entertaining.
“It’s such a unique house. The cornice on the ceiling in the dining room is exquisite and has so many beautiful details in each room.
“My client has Italian roots and that’s why the outdoor temple area with its colonnaded cloisters feels Italian. But it is used in a very modern way with an outdoor kitchen and a fantastic view.”
Mark predicts the flat will be sold to a UK or overseas buyer who may consider purchasing it as a second home. “Due to its location, it will definitely appeal to golfers.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and while I’ve sold more expensive homes in the past, I’m not sure I’ve sold anything more spectacular.”
The Balfour, Whittingehame House, East Lothian is costing o/o £2.4m.
For more information please contact Cullertons on 0131-225 5007.