Rocker's retreat

The Who bass player John Entwistle became 'quite the country gentleman' when at home in his Victorian Gothic rectory. But following the rock star's death in Las Vegas two years ago, the Cotswold house is being sold

His Victorian gothic mansion in the Cotswolds was more than just a retreat for John Entwistle, legendary bass player with The Who, who died almost two years ago in Las Vegas at the start of a tour. What began as a rural hideaway in Stow-in-the-Wold became the rock star's home and the place he chose to put down roots.

His Victorian gothic mansion in the Cotswolds was more than just a retreat for John Entwistle, legendary bass player with The Who, who died almost two years ago in Las Vegas at the start of a tour. What began as a rural hideaway in Stow-in-the-Wold became the rock star's home and the place he chose to put down roots.

But now Quarwood is up for sale and his son, Christopher Entwistle, who has been managing the 42-acre estate for the past six years, is preparing to see it leave the family. "My father loved the house and Stow. Everyone knew him there but they gave him plenty of privacy and he was never bothered by anyone."

That's not to say that he remained aloof from local life. He involved himself in parish events and has been described in interviews as "every inch the country gentleman". "On one occasion he had a letter from a local band planning a reunion saying they were short of a bass guitarist for a one-off gig at the British Legion," recalls Entwistle. "My father laughed and said, 'Why not do it?' They ended up rehearsing at the house and his stage people did the set. He really enjoyed it."

Among the first changes the rock star made to the house when he bought it more than 20 years ago was to put in two recording studios.

"He wrote and did demos on the top floor and in the larger ground-floor studio he recorded two of his solo albums with his band. Other groups also recorded there," says Christopher. Although the equipment has gone, the wiring, sound-proofing and air-conditioning is still intact.

These were installed after The Who's wild years on the rock scene, but the house that was orginally built for the Rector of Stow in 1856 and surrounded by parkland, paddocks and woodland has a setting that meets the need for privacy while being close to good road and rail links. Two stone pillars adorned by lion plinths at the entrance to the long driveway indicate the stature of the property.

Inside, it was extensively remodelled in the early 1950s but still has its original features. In the hall, a cantilever staircase with wrought-iron balustrade and oak handrail lead to the galleried landing. Christopher Entwistle says his father had the hallway stencilled to look like castle walls. A suit of armour stands guard at the foot of the stairs.

"Not an original, though, unlike the ones that used to be in the dining room." There were two full-sized and two mini-sized suits and the walls were covered in crossbows, swords, flintlock guns and the whole paraphernalia of jousting. My father had a great passion for knights in armour and could always spot something out of period in a film."

Entwistle's other great passion was deep-sea diving and there are still a few clues to be found. In one of the reception rooms, which was largely used for entertaining, there is a carved wooden bar fitted with drink shelves and chillers, at each end of which there are still two deep-sea fishing rods attached to poles.

Christopher describes the room as it was. "Sharks, sword-fish and marlin were suspended from the ceiling and were covered with barracuda and other fish he had caught - he had even put one of those moving hands you can get into a shark's mouth. It was really a phenomenal room for entertaining."

The more formal and elegant drawing room has an open fireplace with decorative painted timber surround. Picture windows look out over the Cotswold landscape. The gardens are formal in style with extensive terraaces and a wide croquet lawn facing almost due south taking in the pretty Dikler valley.

Entwistle would often ride a quad bike on the land taking a few falls "but not on the Ozzy Osbourne scale", adds Christopher. "There haven't been shoots on the estate for more than 10 years now so it has become something of a wildlife haven."

Christopher first came to the house as a four-year-old but, after his parents divorced a few years later, it was mainly for holidays and weekends. "My friends would often get lost, which I could never fathom because although it seems large it is not overwhelming."

On the first floor, there is a master bedroom with dressing room and en-suite bathroom, two guest bedrooms with bathrooms, a study and accommodation suitable for staff. There are a further five bedrooms at least on the second floor.

Christopher Entwistle recalls the house being filled with family and friends. For them, the heart of it was the large kitchen, which doubles as a family sitting room. There is also a snooker room with an open fireplace and carved stone surround.

In the grounds, which include seven cottages, a garage block and outbuildings, a neglected indoor swimming pool could be brought back into use. John Entwistle would have been happy to see it replaced and was considering turning it into a Japanese garden shortly before he died.

It will be a wrench for Christopher Entwistle to leave the house - his grandmother lives in one of the cottages. Although he says it would be too large for just himself and his wife, inheritance tax has given him little choice. "But my father had it such a long time that it is because of those memories that it is hard to leave. I still see it as his house."

Quarwood is for sale at a guide price of £3.75 million through Hamptons International: 01386 859444

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