IT is one of the grandest and most desirable residences for miles around - and Parbold Hall is up for sale after tycoon owner Sir Peter Moores decided to downsize.
For those with big enough pockets, it will cost a cool £9.5m to buy.
The multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist, who divides his time between the North West and a flat in London, turns 80 next year and has told family and friends he wants to move somewhere a little smaller, nearer to relatives (who mainly populate the Midlands) and “somewhere where I can walk to Tesco”.
His personal assistant, Helen Anderson, said today that he would doubtless find leaving what has been his part-time home for 53 years quite a wrench, but it is better for him to make a full break than move a short distance down the road.
Sir Peter, a member of the Littlewoods dynasty who has given millions to classical music, Aids charities and the fine arts over the years, can take particular pride in the great building and its estate (including 174 acres of woodland) which sit upon Parbold Hill and on a clear day have views of the west coast, North Wales and large swathes of Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
For much of the past half century he has been lovingly restoring the building from a virtual ruin to a spectacularly well-appointed home.
As Sir Peter said recently: “You used to be able to stand in the basement and look up to see the sky. It was probably just as well they had let it go – if it had been covered over, it probably would have had even worse dry rot than it did.”
But dodgy timber issues like that are distant memories and the main building today, as agents Savills point out, boasts nine meticulously-restored bedrooms and eight bathrooms with the majority of principal rooms south-facing over the Douglas Valley.
Another of the stately pile’s many selling points to an in-coming member of the gentry could be its fine reputation for game shoots.
There is thought to have been some kind of home on the site of Parbold Hall for many centuries although the building as it stands today was mainly constructed in the early to mid-18th century. There are the remains of a structure from a century earlier in parts of the home.
In the 1740s it belonged to Thomas Crisp, member of Parliament for Ilchester in far distant Somerset who was responsible for many of the classical features. But by the 1930s the house had fallen into disuse with only the east end of it occupied. By 1949 it had been abandoned altogether.
However, a 25-year-old Peter Moores saw great potential in the place and bought it in 1958. After two years of fundamental restoration work and weather-proofing he moved in with his then wife, Luciana.
And locals have been able to see more of it than most major landowners are prepared to reveal. That is because for many years Sir Peter has opened the grounds to the public for his annual charity garden parties.
Depending on when a sale goes through, however, the one held in May this year with a record attendance could prove to be the last.
Ms Anderson said: “Sir Peter will no doubt to be leaving Parbold with mixed feelings. It has, after all, been his main home for more than 50 years and he has had a wonderful time there.
“But he has always been a man who looks and plans ahead rather than waits until something is absolutely necessary.”