Is this the Middletons' new £5m mansion? Rumours are rife about Prince William's in-laws closing the deal on this Georgian manor house...with plenty of room for grandchildren
By Amanda Perthen
PUBLISHED: 23:17, 2 June 2012 | UPDATED: 05:02, 3 June 2012
Their eldest daughter is making preparations to move into her sumptuous marital home in Kensington Palace.
And it seems Carole Middleton and her husband Michael are also planning a change of scenery – to a manor with its own slice of Royal history.
Neighbours have revealed that the couple have bought a Grade II listed Georgian house in Berkshire worth around £4.7 million.
Secluded: The back of the Grade II listed Georgian manor in Berkshire that looks set to be the Middleton's new family home
The beautiful Berkshire property has a stunning conservatory overlooking its rolling gardens
The property, which boasts seven bedrooms and 18 acres of land, has plenty of room should the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – and any future grandchildren – wish to visit them.
Estate agent Savills, which marketed the property, has refused to identify the buyers.
But neighbours said the current owners – a senior banker and his wife – have confided that they have sold their home to the Middletons. One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘They told us that the Middletons had bought it, but I don’t know when they will be moving in. It’s all very exciting.’
A friend of the current owners added: ‘I saw them the other day and they were thrilled that the place had been sold.‘In the end there were four parties bidding for it, including the Middletons, which pushed the price right up from the guide of £4 million, so they were very pleased.
‘They said the Middletons were planning to move into the house in mid-July if everything goes according to plan.’
Some rooms in the Grade II listed property are adorned with luxury hand-painted silk wallpaper
One estate agent, who had clients also interested in the property, said: ‘This place is perfect for the Middletons. It’s just around the corner from where they live now, but it offers far more security and privacy.
‘It’s a quiet, secluded property along a country lane, and last came on the market about ten years ago.
‘The Georgian manor is in a splendid rural position with fantastic views. Everyone in the industry is talking about the fact that the Middletons have bought it.
‘I believe it went for upwards of £4.7million, because that’s when one of the interested parties had to drop out.’
The property's gardens are a combination of informal lawns, beautiful planted beds and topiary shrubs
The property – which is just a few miles from the Middletons’ present home – also boasts appropriate Royal connections.
King Henry I originally bestowed the land on the monks of Reading Abbey, who created fishponds in the grounds – three of which still exist.
In 1540, following the dissolution of the monasteries including Reading Abbey, Henry VIII granted it to John Winchcombe, the wealthy son of a local wool merchant, who became an MP four years later. The house later passed to the Hartley family, descendants of a female branch of the Winchcombe family.
The property - just a few miles away from the Middleton's present home - also boasts appropriate Royal connections, with its land originally bestowed on the monks of Reading Abbey by King Henry I
However, the Hartleys still retain the title of Lord and Lady of the Manor – dashing any hopes that the Middletons might have had of inheriting it with the house.
The last remaining heir is William Hartley Russell, who moved to nearby Bucklebury House in 1957.
The house, which is set amid stunning gardens and parkland with views across the Pang Valley, boasts a tennis court and swimming pool.
As well as an en-suite master bedroom, it contains an elegant drawing room, dining room with a 17th Century fireplace, library, sitting room and an impressive entrance hall.
Some rooms are adorned with hand-painted silk wallpaper.
The gardens are a combination of informal lawns, beautiful planted beds and topiary shrubs.
In April, the Middletons signalled they were looking for more space after being given the go-ahead to extend their current £1.5 million country home by building an annexe.
The application caused uproar among local residents, who claimed the couple were receiving preferential treatment by hiding the plans from public view.
The parents of Kate Middleton, Michael and Carole, pictured outside their home near the Berkshire village of Bucklebury, could soon be on the move
However, at their prospective new property, planning permission has already been granted for an outbuilding to be erected, providing a flat and garage on the ground floor, and a storage area and workshop above it.
The extra space is likely to prove ideal for expanding Party Pieces, the mail order firm the Middletons set up in 1987 and which now employs around 30 staff.
The online retailer, which provides a range of party items from paper plates to patriotic bunting, aims to help parents create ‘magical’ events for their children at home.
Kate’s younger sister Pippa has already signed a lucrative book deal about how to organise the perfect party, with the step-by-step guide due out this autumn.
The Middletons’ fortune is estimated at around £30 million by analysts, who say the couple’s link to the Royal Family could boost the value of their business even further by opening up lucrative new markets in the United States.
However, the family was not always wealthy. Mrs Middleton, a builder’s daughter who spent her early years in a council flat in Southall, West London, first began making children’s party bags in 1981 when she was pregnant with her eldest daughter Kate and unable to continue working as a British Airways air hostess.
With newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton set to move into Kensington Palace, the Duchess's family are also upgrading their surroundings
She and her husband Michael, a former flight dispatcher at Heathrow Airport, then formalised the hobby into a business six years later. Their income from Party Pieces helped them to send their children – Kate, Pippa and son James – to expensive private schools.
The Middletons also contributed towards the cost of last year’s Royal Wedding.
They reportedly paid £97,000 for Kate’s dress, which was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Pippa’s maid of honour gown, hotel rooms and the couple’s honeymoon in the Seychelles.
Research also suggests that money has trickled down to the Middletons from ancestors on at least one side of the family. While Mrs Middleton is descended from a family of penniless Durham coal miners, Mr Middleton comes from a wealthier background that includes an 18th Century wool manufacturer and merchant from Leeds, who left the equivalent of £33 million in his will.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expected to move into Princess Margaret’s former apartment at Kensington Palace next year after extensive renovation work is completed.
Around £1 million is being spent refurbishing the lavish four-storey, 20-room apartment – which comes complete with its own private, walled garden.
The couple currently divide their time between Nottingham Cottage, a two-bedroom home in the grounds of the Palace, and their house in Anglesey, North Wales, where the Prince, an RAF search and rescue pilot, is currently based.
In an interview last week, William spoke of his hope that he would soon start a family with Kate. The Mail on Sunday first contacted the property’s current owner a fortnight ago to ask whether the Middletons had made an offer on his house.
The man replied: ‘I can’t help you I’m afraid, the process is ongoing. No comment.’
Along with his wife, he refused to comment again when contacted last week. The Middletons were also unavailable for comment.
The Queen has made it clear that she is keen to welcome the Middletons into the Royal circle.
Both Carole and Michael have been invited to today’s Jubilee Pageant and will sail on The Elizabethan, a replica of a 19th Century Mississippi paddle steamer.
Royal observers stress that the fact they will be among the Royal Squadron – which includes just a handful of boats sailing directly behind the Queen – is a sign of the Monarch’s good relationship with the Duchess’s family.
Shortly before last year’s Royal Wedding, the Queen invited the Middletons to dine privately with her at Windsor Castle and subsequently included them in her carriage procession at Royal Ascot
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