Bill Gates adds Cliveden to his portfolio for pounds 44m

CLIVEDEN, THE stately home that provided an elaborate backdrop to the wild society parties of the Profumo affair in the early 1960s, has begun another chapter in its colourful history. It has been bought by the world's richest man, Bill Gates.

Mr Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and two other partners in an American syndicate have bought the famous building for pounds 44m.

The consortium has bought Cliveden plc, the luxury hotel group that leases the house from the National Trust. They will also take control of the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, the Cliveden Town House in Knightsbridge, and a new hotel being built in Edinburgh.

The move will fuel speculation that Mr Gates is planning to move to England. He recently purchased a house in the Notting Hill are of west London for pounds 8m.

Cliveden is an impressive building in a commanding position on cliffs high above the Thames near Maidenhead in Berkshire. It dates back to 1666, although almost all of it is more modern, having been updated several times. The 400-acre landscaped gardens stretch down steep slopes to the banks of the river.

As grand country piles go, Cliveden has seen more than its fair share of revelry over the years. When Lord and Lady Astor owned the house, they entertained such guests as Edward VII, and the authors Rudyard Kipling and Henry James.

For the past 15 years the house has been a hotel, charging guests up to pounds 750 per night for the luxurious Lady Astor and Prince of Wales suites, and pounds 235 for smaller double rooms.

Although owned by the National Trust, which acts as its landlord, Cliveden plc occupies the estate on a 100-year lease. On their takeover, Bill Gates and his business partners in the venture will automatically inherit the lease and it is believed the building will continue as a hotel.

The National Trust has the final say on structural works to Cliveden, and the hotel chain has also in the past consulted them on decorative matters. "We trust the same arrangement will continue with whoever is buying he lease," said a spokeswoman.

Cliveden plc yesterday confirmed that the deal was on the table. Already 25 per cent of the shareholders have agreed to it and the group is encouraging acceptance from other shareholders to get the minimum 50 per cent needed to push the deal through.

The National Trust said it knew negotiations were under way for a new buyer for the lease but did not know with whom. A spokeswoman said yesterday they had not been informed of the bid by Bill Gates and his associates and only knew of it through news reports.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future