Gatcombe Park

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Gatcombe Park as seen from the village of Avening

Gatcombe Park is the country residence of Anne, Princess Royal located between the villages of Minchinhampton and Avening in Gloucestershire, England. Built in the late 18th century to the designs of George Basevi, it is a Grade II* listed building. Although it is a royal residence because it is home to the Princess Royal, it is privately owned.


Gatcombe Park is located between the villages of Minchinhampton and Avening in the county of Gloucestershire in South West England. Other British royals have lived locally. Highgrove House, the family residence of Anne's brother, Charles, Prince of Wales, is located six miles away in Doughton, near Tetbury, and Anne's first cousin once removed, Prince Michael of Kent, owned nearby Nether Lypiatt Manor for several years.[1]


The manors of Minchinhampton and Avening formed the basis of the later Gatcombe Park estate. After the Dissolution they were granted to Lord Windsor, whose family sold mostly undeveloped land by that date comprising them to Philip Sheppard in 1656.[2]

The core hillside land of the former estates, which was chiefly within the parish bounds of Gatcombe, was left in the will of Samuel Sheppard, who died in 1770, to his brother Edward.[2]

Accordingly, a new manor house was built from 1771 to 1774 for Edward Sheppard, a local clothier. The house and estate were purchased in 1814 the successful speculator and theoretical economist David Ricardo, MP, and altered to the designs of George Basevi (a relation), c. 1820.[2] It features Bath stone construction, and comprises five main bedrooms, four secondary bedrooms, four reception rooms, a library, a billiard room and a conservatory; staff accommodation and its steep-sloping grounds are a separately liste (Grade II) parkland.[3]

Residence of Princess Royal

The house and farming estate were bought by Queen Elizabeth II in 1976 for Anne, the Princess Royal, and Captain Mark Phillips; the price was not disclosed but is believed to have been around between £500,000 and £750,000.[4][5] The previous owner was Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a former Home Secretary, who had inherited the house from his father-in-law, the art collector Samuel Courtauld. Courtauld had acquired it from the Ricardo family.[2] in 1940.[6]

The Crown paid for its renovation and redecoration[citation needed] for Princess Anne and Captain Phillips, who moved into it in November 1977. In 1978 the owners' land was increased by the purchase of Aston Farm to the east.[7] The Estates thus while the first marriage subsisted covered approximately 730 acres (3.0 km2), of which the bulk of its 200 acres (0.81 km2) of woodland appertains to Gatcombe Park itself and includes a lake containing brown trout. The two sides of these estates had considerable stabling facilities, including a new stable block, and Aston Farm owns the underlying land of an airstrip.[2]

Today the Princess Royal lives in the manor house with her second husband, Sir Timothy Laurence. Previously, her first husband Mark Phillips lived in the adjoining Aston Farm with his second wife, the estates having been separated when the couple divorced; Mr. Phillips later moved to America. Son Peter Phillips and daughter Zara Phillips had their own personal cottages within the estate until their engagements. As of 2013 Peter and his wife Autumn resided in London. Zara and her husband, Mike Tindall, lived in nearby Cheltenham after their 2011 marriage, but in January 2013 the couple moved to live on the Princess Royal's estate.[8][9]

The grounds are well known for hosting the Festival of British Eventing over the first weekend of August.[citation needed] Organised by Mark Phillips with considerable input from Anne, the event attracts the world's top Olympians and over 40,000 paying spectators, as well as BBC television coverage. The estate also holds two smaller horse trials, in the spring and autumn[citation needed], whose courses are designed by Anne, and a biannual craft fair with around 160 exhibitors is run, in May and October.[citation needed]


  1. "News In Brief: New home for Prince Michael", The Guardian, London, 8 Jan 1981.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Gatcombe Park (House), Grade II* listing Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1091099)". National Heritage List for England. 
  3. Gatcombe Park (Park and Garden) Grade II Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000765)". National Heritage List for England. 
  4. Glasgow Herald, 24 June 1976, p. 1
  5. Australian Women's Weekly, 21 July 1976, p 4
  6. p37 Introduction Ricardo Principles of Political Economy and Taxation edited RM Hartwell Penguin Classics 1971
  7. Map and grade II listing of farmhouse that shows intervening Minchinhampton Golf Course and Field Farm Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1172284)". National Heritage List for England. 
  8. "Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall sell home for move to Princess Royal's estate,", 9 January 2013, accessed 11 January 2013.
  9. "A Life in the Day: Zara Phillips, the Queen’s eldest granddaughter" Sunday Times, 18 April 2015, accessed 11 June 2015.

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