Available to rent: The Summer House at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Anglesey Abbey was purchased by the 1st Lord Fairhaven, Huttleston Rogers Broughton, and his brother Henry in 1926 and was bequeathed to the National Trust, after Huttleston's death 40 years later, on the proviso that his descendants could continue living in a designated area of the house.
On Huttleston’s death in 1966, his younger brother, Henry Rogers Broughton (Huttleston had no male heirs), became the 2nd Baron Fairhaven. The title is now held by Henry’s only son, Ailwyn Henry George Broughton, the 3rd Baron, who succeeded in 1973.
Although by that point Anglesey Abbey was under National Trust ownership and open to the public in summer, the 3rd Baron lived there with his family – he and his wife Patricia went on to have six children – until they moved to the grade I-listed Kirtling Tower near Newmarket in 2004.
Patricia, Lady Fairhaven – who has been married to her husband since 1960 – explained the thinking behind The Summer House, which is available to rent through Carter Jonas for £5,000 a month.
It has seven bedrooms and five bathrooms, and comes with its own staff annexe, nursery wing, pool and sauna.
“We built it in 1973 so that we had somewhere to go when the public came round the Abbey,” she said. “It was built round a courtyard, which was already there, but it was full of wood and sheep and goodness knows what else – and it was the most heavenly place for children to grow up.”
Lady Fairhaven hopes to find tenants similar to those who occupied it previously.
“We had a young couple who were here for nine years and they absolutely loved it,” said the trained actress and racehorse owner (she bought and bred Krypton Factor before selling him on to Fawzi Nass who won over £1.5million with him), who also has a stonemasonry business, Fairhaven Stone, in Bottisham.
“We moved out in 2004 and this young couple had it from 2006. Sadly, his father got ill and they moved back to America. He had worked in Cambridge and they had four children and lots of friends.
“Then we had somebody who only took it for a short time and now we’re looking for somebody else.”
Walking around the extensive, largely unfurnished property – which on one side has doors opening out onto the garden and, on the other, onto an inner courtyard which boasts a sauna and heated swimming pool – Lady Fairhaven pointed out some interesting features.
“Those cupboards there [in the playroom] are from my grandparents-in-law’s yacht, The Sapphire – they were the linen cupboards,” she noted. “It was a big yacht with 12 staterooms and a crew of 64 which they gave to the nation to be used by the Red Cross at the beginning of the war – and it was sunk by our own side in Scotland.”
Reflecting on her happy memories of long summers spent at the house, Lady Fairhaven said: “Oh, it was the most heavenly place for children to grow up.
“This wonderful courtyard here is totally safe and you could eat out there – it’s almost like outdoor living.
“It’s the most lovely family home and it’s very close to good schools which is another huge advantage.”
Was Lady Fairhaven heavily involved in the design of the house?
Laughing heartily, she replied: “We went through seven or eight designs and there were so many people on the committee and there were so many people deciding or not deciding. I eventually said to the architect ‘For God’s sake, Robin, give them something with bells on!’ So he brought some drawings and we had some Chinese things with lanterns and bells on every window on the facade – and do you know, there was 100 per cent agreement of every member on the committee that they didn’t like that!”
Lady Fairhaven, a delightful and very entertaining character, is clear on the type of person she would like to see occupying The Summer House.
“This house needs a) someone with a sense of humour, and b) somebody with patience – and somebody who’s slightly quirky,” she said.
Asked if she misses living at this splendid residence, Lady Fairhaven concluded: “Of course I do. You can’t not miss somewhere where you were incredibly happy.”