Cowdray Park, the country sporting estate famed as the home of British polo, has been listed for sale at £25 million, or about $38 million, in what UK estate agents are calling "the landmark property sale of the decade." The 19th century estate, centered on a 13-bedroom, 44,000-sq.-ft. manor house (above) built circa 1874, is set in 110 acres of parkland with horse paddocks and stables, two lakes, landscaped gardens and a cricket pitch, as well as its own a hamlet of cottages. It also includes the original practice ground where polo was first played in England 100 years ago.
"For anyone keen on polo, this has to be the ultimate property as it literally adjoins the polo club which is the British home of the sport," Edward de Mallet Morgan, of Knight Frank, the agency handling the sale, tells the London Telegraph. The property, situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in West Sussex, does not include the estate's famous Cowdray Park Polo Club, which hosts 450 matches a year including the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup featuring the world's top players including Prince Harry, however. The mansion features both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wine cellars, tennis courts, and a bowling alley.
The estate's architectural merit matches its illustrious sporting heritage. Stained glass windows, oak, stone and marble fireplaces, ornate cornices, mouldings and period paneling abound. The spectacular great hall has a barrel vaulted ceiling, minstrel's gallery and massive fireplace. The estate's owner, Viscount Cowdray, considered turning it into a luxury hotel, spa and conference center before deciding to sell the historic property after failing to find a suitable business partner for the venture. He is retaining ownership of most of the 16,000 acres of land surrounding the mansion, which includes a ruined castle, a golf club, holiday cottages, farmland and the polo club, however, and plans to move to a smaller house on the property.
Gallery: Cowdray Park, Home of British Polo
De Mallet Morgan has said that there has already been considerable interest in the estate from wealthy Russian, Middle Eastern and Indian prospective buyers. Cowdray Park has been owned by the Cowdray family since 1909 when it was purchased by the engineer and oil industrialist Sir Weetman Dickinson Pearson. The first competitive polo tournaments were recorded at Cowdray in 1910, and by the 1920s a series of competitions with dedicated cups and trophies was firmly established, such as the Coronation Cup, first presented in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of King George V.