Island of the multi-million sales tags

Big houses on the Isle of Wight are commanding truly big prices. A mere million is chicken feed here, says Mary Wilson

The Isle of Wight has long been a safe haven for keen sailors looking for pretty homes (first and second) on the River Medina and up and down the Solent. But elsewhere on the island there are some splendid country houses, two of which have recently come onto the market with multi-million price tags.

The Isle of Wight has long been a safe haven for keen sailors looking for pretty homes (first and second) on the River Medina and up and down the Solent. But elsewhere on the island there are some splendid country houses, two of which have recently come onto the market with multi-million price tags.

"Until last year, there might have been a few houses for sale for more than £1m, but nothing over £2m," says Ken Grist, of Kingston & Grist, in the popular yachting harbour of Yarmouth. The most expensive property by far, at £9m, is Barton Manor in Whippingham, near East Cowes - on the opposite side of the river to Cowes. The Grade II-listed manor has been considerably improved by film and stage producer Robert Stigwood who bought it 12 years ago.

The Barton estate was run as a farm for 400 years until 1845, when Queen Victoria bought the manor as an extension to her neighbouring summer residence, Osborne House. After her death, Edward VII kept Barton Manor as his island home and undertook extensive modernisation of the property. It was sold by the Crown in 1922 and much of the estate was broken up in 1953.

In the main house there are seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, an oak-panelled reception hall and lounge, 35ft drawing room, library and dining room, all with Portland stone fireplaces. Adjoining the house is an indoor swimming pool with a whirlpool bath and steam shower room.

The gardens, which lead down to a private beach, are open to the public four days a year, and within the 159-acre grounds are two lakes, a water garden (in the area once used by Queen Victoria for ice skating), a secret garden, woodland walks and a maze. Your £9m also buys you Barton Manor farmhouse, a stone-built five-bedroom house, a huge two-storey barn, a gym, tennis pavilion leading to a walled tennis court, a billiard room, tea rooms, function rooms, offices and a two-bedroom estate cottage. Beauchamp Estates and Gascoigne Billinghurst are the agents.

The island's other multi-million price tag belongs to Westover Park in Calbourne, a truly stunning Regency house, part of which was remodelled by the architect John Nash, who lived on the island in the early part of the 19th century. It lies in an elevated position on the edges of one of the prettier villages in West Wight, and from the gardens behind the house there are fabulous views over the Solent.

The Grade II*-listed house, which started life as a shooting lodge in the late 18th century, has been impeccably restored by the current owner to the elegant house it once was. There are seven well-proportioned reception rooms, each with a decoratively plastered ceiling, six bedrooms and four bathrooms, a cosy breakfast room with an Aga, and a separate kitchen. At the rear of the house are offices and a billiard room - and behind that, a gym and a sauna. Around a beautiful cobbled stableyard, which has a central fountain and dovecote over the entrance, there is a two-bedroom staff flat and two three-bedroom cottages.

There are several separate garden areas in the 47 acres of parkland, including well-maintained rose walks, enviable vegetable and walled gardens, an all-weather tennis court, a heated outdoor swimming pool, helipad and heated hangar, three garages, six stables, paddocks and a lake stocked with koi carp. The agents, Creasey Biles & King and FPDSavills, are looking for offers over £4m.

The Wight House, on the market with Kingston & Grist, may not have the rolling acres but certainly does have one of the best positions on the island. "It's a one-off, its position is incomparable," says Ken Grist. "There are very few properties along the entire south of England with direct sea frontage, which this has."

From the sea wall at the bottom of its garden, you have views across the Solent to Southampton Water and to the Needles and the Dorset coast beyond. It is the last house on the water's edge going out of picturesque Yarmouth and lies next door to Bouldnor Green, where the November 5 firework display takes place.

In New England style, it has four bedrooms, two reception rooms, an attic "crew room", a double-length garage and a summerhouse, and it would also be possible to put in a jetty, as several properties along the front have done.

The house is on the market for £1.5m, which seems a lot for a not-very-large four-bedroom house, but Grist says: "There could be potential for redevelopment into something quite spectacular."

Beauchamp Estates, 020-7499 7722

Gascoigne Billinghurst, 01932 588288

Creasey Biles & King, 01983 527744

FPDSavills, 020-7499 8644

Kingston & Grist, 01983 761005

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