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Mentmore Towers  England 
Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, England

Started 1850
Completed 1855

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date

The House and garden from a 1906 postcard

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

The House and garden from a 1906 postcard
Circa 1700 Italian console table today in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
A late 19th century photograph of the Great Hall
Chateau de Ferrières, Ferrières-en-Brie, in the Île-de-France, from a circa 1900 French chocolate box card. Built 1855-59 for by Baron James de Rothschild, who wanted a house like Mentmore, owned by his cousin, but twice the size.

Designed   Assisted Paxton in design of House
Date   1850-55

Designed   House for Mayer Amschel Rothschild
Date   1850-55

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Grade I
Gardens Listed As  
Grade II*
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Country Life
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Primary Current Ownership Use
Current Ownership Use / Details
Now owned by Mentmore Towers Ltd.

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Baron Mayer Rothschild. Earl of Rosebery, Earl of Midlothian, Viscount of Rosebery, Viscount of Inverkeithing, Viscount Mentmore; Primrose family.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild
House & Family History
Mentmore was built by Baron Mayer de Rothschild in an over-the-top Victorian manner that was typical of the Rothschild style. The Great Hall contained a huge chimneypiece of white and black marble that was purchased from Rubens’s house at Antwerp (the chimneypiece can be seen to the right in the photo of the Great Hall in the "Images" section). Carved and gilded chairs from the Ducal Palace in Venice filled the rooms, many of which were hung with the finest Gobelins tapestries. From the ceiling of the Great Hall hung three huge carved and gilded lanterns taken from the barge of the Doges of Venice. The Dining Room walls were covered with boiseries taken from the Hôtel de Villars in Paris, the first example of this type of decoration to be used in an English house. (The fragments of the boiseries not used at Mentmore were later installed at nearby Waddesdon Manor by Baron Mayer’s cousin, Ferdinand de Rothschild). Lady Eastlake said, after a visit to Mentmore, “I do not believe that the Medici were ever so lodged at the heights of their glory.” After Baron Mayer’s death in 1874, his daughter, Hannah (married in 1878 to the 5th Earl of Rosebery), inherited the House and its collections. It was the death of her son, the 6th Earl of Rosebery, who died in 1974 at the age of 92, that prompted the sale of Mentmore and all its contents in 1977. The Labour government of James Callaghan refused to accept the contents in lieu of inheritance taxes (offered for £2 million to the government; the sale of the contents realized £6 million), which would have turned the House into one of England's finest museums of European furniture, objects d'art, and Victorian era architecture. (The larger Mentmore Estate, excluding the House, had been sold in 1944 to the Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, acting as trustee for the St. Monica Trust). The House itself was sold in 1977 for £220,000 to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement in the United Kingdom. It was also through the Maharishi that Mentmore became the British national headquarters of the Natural Law Party in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999 Mentmore was sold and slated to be converted into a hotel, though court challenges in 2004 prevented its conversion. In March 2005 the High Court ruled that Aylesbury Vale District Council's decision to grant planning permission to the developers was legally sound and Mentmore's owner, Syrian-born billionaire Simon Halabi, moved ahead with plans to convert Mentmore into a 101-suite country house, via his Anglo-Swiss Holdings company, as part of his “six-star” members-only PM Club venture, along with the old "In and Out Club" at 100 Piccadilly, London (with membership fees of £250,000 for 30 years). As of 2009, with Simon Halabi's property empire in financial trouble due to the collapse of the housing market, the Mentmore project appears in jeopardy and English Heritage placed the House on the At Risk Register (it needs urgent work on the roof and chimneys). During the House’s heyday in the 19th century Napoleon III stayed at Mentmore. Château de Ferrières, located in Ferrières-en-Brie, in the Île-de-France, is the largest and most luxurious 19th century château in France (see illustration in “Images” section). It was built between 1855 and 1859 for Baron James de Rothschild and was designed by Mentmore’s architect, Joseph Paxton (Paxton designed Mentmore for Baron James's cousin, Mayer Amschel de Rothschild). On seeing Mentmore, Baron James is reputed to have summoned Paxton and ordered "Build me a Mentmore, but twice the size."
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
The contents of Mentmore were auctioned by Sotheby's during a great sale that took place on May 25 and 26, 1977. (Many objects were removed to Dalmeny House, the Earl of Rosebery's Scottish seat). The failure to save Mentmore for the nation was one of the major factors that led to the seminal "The Destruction of the Country House" exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 1975, and, ultimately, to the creation of the modern country house movement and the foundation of the preservation organization SAVE Britain's Heritage. The Sotheby’s auction catalog of 1977 says of Mentmore: “There can be no doubt whatever that the art collections at Mentmore were amongst the most outstanding in their kind anywhere in the world.” There was even an entire room devoted to a collection of amber. A fabulous German Rococo secretarie and cabinet that was made for Augustus, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, was probably the most important piece of German furniture in England. A circa 1700 Italian gesso and gilt wood console table, formerly at Mentmore, is today in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (see photo in "Images" section).
Mentmore is considered one of the most important examples of the Victorian Jacobean Revival style.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
The Park is home to Mentmore Golf and Country Club (www.mentmoregolf.co.uk), established in 1992 with two 18-hole golf courses: the Rothschild Course and the Rosebery Course.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV
"Brazil" (1985). "Slipstream" (1989). "Inspector Morse" (1992 - TV series, in episode "Cherubim and Seraphim," as Swanwick Park, the venue for the last party). "Incognito" (1997). "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999 - as exterior of mansion where the orgy takes place). "The Mummy" (1999). "Quills" (2000 - as Dr. Royer-Collard's mansion). "The Mummy Returns" (2001). "Ali G Indahouse" [aka "Ali G in da House"] (2002). "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries" (2002 - BBC TV series, episode 1.3, "Payment in Blood," as the Scottish house of Sir Stuart Stinhurst). "Johnny English" (2003 - as house in opening fantasy sequence). "Batman Begins" (2005 - as Wayne Manor).

Author   NA
Year Published   1977
Reference   pgs. vii, viii, x, xi

Author   Hall, Michael (Text); Taylor, John Bigelow (Photographs)
Year Published   2002
Reference   pg. 37

There are no documents associated with this house.

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