How a Name Can Help to Sell a Home

July 10, 1995
Laurel Ives
The Daily Telegraph, London

The Manor House in Shipton on Cherwell will be well known to music fans. In 1971 Richard Branson bought this 16th-century manor house for 30,000 pounds and converted the barn next door into a recording studio. Until recently it was still the main Virgin studio where famous artists would come to record and relax in peaceful surroundings. Now it is on the market for 1.1 million pounds with Savills.

It was the Manor that provided the venue for Virgin Records' first major success. Mike Oldfield stayed for several months in 1973 recording his album 'Tubular Bells', which was one of the biggest-selling albums of the Seventies, establishing Virgin Records and making Branson a fortune in the process.

After that a host of famous artists recorded at the Manor, including the Cure, the Cranberries, Seal, Neneh Cherry, Happy Mondays and Deacon Blue.

In the early days, Branson and his family would also stay but when the constant toing and froing of staff and singers got to be too intrusive Branson bought a house in a nearby village.

A mural in the hall records Branson's association with the house, picturing him and his wife and children, Mike Oldfield, Phil Collins, Boy George and Feargal Sharkey. Richard Keppie, the gardener, remembers when the Cure rendered Phil Collins even more bald by removing most of his hair from the mural.

The Manor has been used as a kind of hotel, hence it has 11 bedrooms and six bathrooms as well as a swimming pool and 20 acres of land. The rooms are beautifully proportioned and the two main bedrooms have window seats with views over the grounds.

The decoration could do with a repaint and the domestic offices, which consist of three rooms, including an office and kitchen, might need to be converted back to residential use.

Prospective buyers, however, might want to leave the mural in place, as well as a tiny act of vandalism on the green front door where "Ziggy 9.91" is scratched on to the wood.

EMI International, which now owns Virgin, has decided to sell the Manor but if you are thinking of buying to set up a record label, beware. It has put a covenant on the property with the aim of prohibiting it being used as a recording studio again.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield