Luxury Living Homes with serious history

Luxury Living: Homes with serious history

From the California hangout of John F. Kennedy to an 18th-century French château graced by the likes of Rousseau, Goethe and Voltaire, 5 distinguished properties with many a tale to tell — all from Christie’s International Real Estate

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  • Solana
    Montecito, California


President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were among those who visited Solana during its tenure as the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a former think tank for world leaders and scholars. Built in 1916 and one of Montecito’s original Hilltop Baron estates, this landmark property has been thoroughly restored. It comprises a 22,000-square-foot main residence with more than 11 acres of glorious gardens, with 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains.

One of Ireland’s most historic properties, Glin Castle has been the ancestral home of the FitzGerald family, the hereditary Knights of Glin, for more than seven centuries, and has withstood countless invasions since its medieval origins. This romantic castellated mansion is appointed with grand Georgian architecture and notable collections of Irish furniture and paintings. The setting is equally impressive: 380 acres of parkland overlooking the Shannon estuary, with its pleasure gardens, woodland walks, dairy farm, and three lodges all guarded by twin turrets emblazoned with the family crest.

Glentruim House and Cottages is a beautifully secluded Highlands retreat. The property also has a storied past — after the battle of Culloden in 1746, the area surrounding the estate became the hideout for Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart, the Jacobite pretender to the throne of England) until his escape to France. The estate has three idyllic cottages tucked away in the grounds. It is bordered by enchanting woodland, and the views of the Spey Valley and Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains are to die for.

The Old House, a magnificent Grade II*-listed medieval parsonage dating from the 1200s, made the international news headlines in 2011 when renovators discovered a mural of Henry VIII — the last of its kind and the earliest Renaissance wall painting in Britain — in the great hall. The parsonage was the Tudor-era home of Thomas Cranmer, Archdeacon of Taunton, who engineered the Church of England’s break with Rome for his king. The Old House is surrounded by an acre of gardens with views of the Quantock Hills.

Castle Le Mans has played host to luminaries including Voltaire, Rousseau and Goethe, and has been witness to many of France’s most historic events. During World War II the château served as a British hospital and the hiding place for hundreds of important paintings from the Louvre. Located a short distance from the city of Le Mans and its legendary racetrack, this 18th-century property has been restored to its former splendour, and today offers 21,528 square feet of lavish interiors with 15 bedroom suites, surrounded by 74 acres of exquisite formal gardens.