Splendour that comes at a price

A LAVISH country estate outside Brackley, described as a small village in itself, is on the market for £25 million.

Residents of nearby Croughton said they would be sad to see the departure of the secretive owner behind the sale, who has donated generously to village projects but fiercely guards his privacy.

The estate, comprising Rowler Manor, is owned by Erwin Eisenberg, one of Israel's richest businessmen.

According to Christie's auctioneers, which is selling the property, the core of the estate was acquired in 1999 and was rebuilt and redeveloped on a lavish scale.

The manor house overlooks parkland, manicured gardens, a private lake and an extensive complex of additional residential buildings.

The estate comprises a commercial farm, a trout farm, stables, a water-bottling plant and other facilities.

A fine collection of Georg Jensen silver assembled at the manor, dubbed the Rowler Collection, was recently auctioned at Christie's in New York.

Croughton Parish Council chairman Rob Robbins declined to comment on Mr Eisenberg, only saying: "What has been done for the village has been done anonymously."

But he added: "It would be a shame if he goes."

Trevor Davies, chairman of the village hall committee, said Mr Eisenberg, who has global interests, had given "gentle" support to the community. "He's kept his distance from the community.

"He's a very private individual and modest man. Most people don't know who he is," Mr Davies said.

Another villager said local employees who worked at the estate were bound to secrecy.

"Nobody seems to know what he does for a living," she said, adding the manor was "like Hollywood".

"It's got security people on the gates and nobody can get near it."

Rowler Manor is reached via a tree-lined drive.

In all, it has six bedroom suites, an in-home gym and an exquisite dining and kitchen complex.

Other facilities include a two-lane bowling alley, cocktail bar, cinema, and games room located in a restored barn across the courtyard from the main house.

Rowler Manor also includes a skylit indoor pool, a stable with a groom's cottage and a huge state-of-the-art garage.

A secondary four-bedroom residence, known as Dower House, was built for guests with views of the lakes and gardens.

Further accommodation can be found in cottages, two gate lodges, a renovated six-bedroom farmhouse, and four more homes surrounded by grassy paddocks.

Jim Bryant of Bidwell's Property Consultants, which is marketing the estate, said: "It was originally being offered for sale as a whole but now is available as 12 lots," he said.

Mr Bryant added the core of the estate, including the manor house, covered more than 700 acres.

This forms one lot and on its own is worth 20 million, he said.