Rock history for sale: UK's first 'country studio'

Richard Branson's former mansion, the birthplace of 'Tubular Bells', is on the market.

The Manor, high altar of 1970s rock and birthplace of the legendary album Tubular Bells, has been put up for sale. The eventual buyer will snap up not only a grand 16th-century, Grade II-listed house in Oxfordshire, but also a large slice of music history.

Converted by a 21-year-old Richard Branson, the Manor was Britain's first residential recording studio. Opened for business in 1971, the Manor, at Shipton-on-Cherwell, lifted album-making out of cramped city studios and placed it in the countryside.

Among those who recorded there in the early 1970s were Sandy Denny, John Cale, Gong, Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Faust and Tangerine Dream. Later came XTC, Black Sabbath, INXS, Rush, Radiohead and Cast.

But it was an unknown teenage multi-instrumentalist who fixed the Manor's place in the rock annals and helped to secure Branson's Virgin business empire. Mike Oldfield arrived at the Manor in 1972 to start work on Tubular Bells, recorded in bursts fitted in between established bands.

"There was a wonderful atmosphere," Oldfield told The Independent on Sunday yesterday. "It was new, exciting. There was nothing that professional, nothing successful, at that time. Just a great feeling that something important was starting to take root."

"Before the Manor," Branson, now Sir Richard, said yesterday, "rock musicians would go in just like classical musicians, three-hour sessions, then go home – very un-rock'n'roll! They liked to record through the night and sleep through the day."

"For me it was a kind of nirvana," Oldfield says. "I had been living in a tiny room in Tottenham. All of a sudden I found myself in wonderful countryside. Being only 19 you can imagine how exciting that was."

Though decidedly laid-back, the Manor was not immune from rock excess. "I opened the door one day to find a guy with a gun looking for Keith Richards, because he thought Keith had gone off with his wife," Branson recalls. "I had to argue with this man that neither Keith Richards nor this man's wife were at the Manor. As I was arguing with him, I saw a naked Keith Richards and this man's naked wife running across the lawn behind him."

"These days anybody with a decent PC or Mac in their bedroom can achieve professional recording results," Oldfield says. "I do miss the big tape recorders and mixing desks."

Mike Oldfield's 1970s albums Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge are re-released this week

Manor Sounds

1970s

Let's Make Up and Be Friendly, The Bonzo Dog Band (1971/1972)

Tie Your Mother Down, Queen (1976)

Set Myself on Fire, XTC (1978)

1980s

Trashed, Black Sabbath (1983)

Love Removal Machine, The Cult (1987)

Trash This Planet, Rush (1989)

1990s

Hardcore/Ballad, Teenage Fanclub (1995)

Bulletproof...I Wish I Was, Radiohead (1995)

All Change, Cast (1995)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable