AO Journal

Aynhoe Park and Modern Grand Tour: Where the Classical and Whimsical Meet

Located just an hour and fifteen minutes from London lies an idyllic 17th-century stately country home known as Aynhoe Park. A virtual feast for the eyes, the grand Palladian house is filled with treasures, surprises, architectural details, and design delights at every turn as every room is a history and design lesson. Built in 1707 by architect Thomas Archer, the house is available for weddings, parties, and events, and best of all, its whimsical items can be purchased online through ArtOrigo dealer Aynhoe Park and A Modern Grand Tour.

Collector, owner and music industry veteran James Perkins (who has a penchant for restoring houses), purchased the estate in 2006. “So many features make Aynhoe Park special starting with the historical architects who built this wonderful Palladian mansion house situated in the most fantastic location in the northernmost corner of Oxfordshire,” he notes. Landscaped by Capability Brown and created as a house for entertaining with its central connecting enfilade of rooms, Perkins details, “The magnificent transformation and restoration of the house in recent years has created a 40-bedroom family home suitable for over 300 guests and 80 residents.” 

A Modern Grand Tour is based on James and his wife Sophie’s unrivaled collection of art, antiques, and curiosities. International Sales Manager Camilla Matthews details that the design direction is the “best of contemporary design from emerging artists and from James’own ideas through the James Perkins Studio.” Whimsical is the operative word of the day, as Matthews notes that a well-known rock star said it’s a “London Zoo on Acid.” 

Their unique show-stopping Feather lamps are best sellers and as Matthews says, “They can transform a room whether you are into minimal/creative and bring a room to life. They are a huge talking point of the house and like no other piece of lighting.” Perkins also favors a flying giraffe art piece that hangs in the Orangery’s ceiling and the 1.2 m. Aynhoe Moon picture that hangs in the salon (from the James Perkins Studio collection). Marble busts, stag horns, taxidermy, and a variety of antiques (ranging from mid-century to Victorian Gothic) await.

Wherever you call home, there is something for every interior, no matter what the size or style. “If you are living in a country house/castle as we do at Aynhoe Park, there is a general sense of high quality decorative classical antiques with strong contemporary art and design, where as if you are in a modern property in the city, I would urge the collector to go for contemporary pieces with one of piece of very decorative 18th century art/furniture (it must be of good quality). They will complement each other,” advises Matthews.

cover image courtesy of Archie Brooksbank