The 19th-century Soham House was purpose-built for entertaining race-day guests of the Johnstone family in 1892. It was designed by CJ Harold Cooper, a prominent architect of the Arts and Crafts movement, which married traditional craftsmanship with medieval, romantic and folk styles of decoration. Despite changing hands several times, the house retains Cooper’s original carved-oak staircase and vast fireplaces.
A stained-glass window featuring illustrations of The Brownies children’s book is now at the Victoria & Albert Museum, although some of the figures are depicted in the wooden panels retained over the reception hall.
Lord Queenborough, a nobleman once thought to be the richest man in Britain, bought the seven-bedroom Soham House in 1910, as an ode to his American heiress wife Pauline Payne Whitney’s equestrian lineage. The Whitney family remains one of the biggest horse racing dynasties today. Their daughter, Dorothy Paget, known as Queen of the Turf, was one of the most prolific racehorse owners of her era, winning 1,532 championships in flat racing and hurdling. After Paget’s death in 1960, the three-level property served as a research centre for the Horse Racing Forensic Laboratories, before being converted back into a home in 1997.
The arched oak door of the entrance hall leads to a reception hall with oak panelling, carved finials and a cloakroom. Further on, a drawing room with large glazed windows opens into the billiards room. The dining room, open-plan living room and a large kitchen with separate laundry and breakfast nooks are also all to be found on the ground floor.
On the first floor, a galleried landing leads to the master bedroom, with a walk-through dressing room, and three more en suite bedrooms. The second floor, which serves as a home office to the current owners, has three bedrooms with vaulted ceilings, access to the roof space and one bathroom. Three storerooms, one of which was originally used to store silverware, the others as cellars, are located below the main staircase.
The 1.15-acre grounds boast three garages, well-manicured lawns and flower beds, an ornate fountain and a paved terrace visible from the sweeping driveway.
Newmarket, which is considered the birthplace of thoroughbred horse racing, has been dubbed The Playground of Kings, and the town has been a centre for British royalty and nobility since the 17th century. Soham House is part of that legacy, one that you can now snap up for £1,650,000 (Dh7.34 million). Soham House is on the market through Cheffins real estate.
Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, December 8.