Soak up the glamour and excitement of horseracing at this elegant Newmarket country house
The CONTENTed Nest /@azoulayinteriors
- Credit: Compulsory Credit: GAP Interiors/The CONTENTed Nest
All listed buildings have a unique sense of history but few have one as steeped in sporting glory as Egerton Stud in Suffolk – a late Victorian country house, built for Lord Ellesmere in 1891, that has played host to the racing industry’s finest and brightest for more than a century.
In its heyday, Egerton was the place to be seen during the season at Newmarket. The stud was run by trainer Richard Marsh, whose stables trained many British Classic Race winners including three for King Edward VII. David Elsworth continues the racing mantel today.
Current custodian of the house is French interior designer Alexie Azoulay. The 10-bedroom Tudor-style property has been in her fiancé Andrew’s family for almost 20 years. It was first let to trainers but, in 2015, fully restored to create a beautiful and cosy family home in the countryside.
“When the family took on the house, it had original features but very little else,” explains Alexie. “The previous owners had laid down modern furnishings such as laminate flooring. The second floor had been divided into two apartments and the house was completely unfurnished – it really did need some proper care and attention.”
Alexie worked on the design with her mother, Dominique, an architect who is also her business partner in Azoulay Interiors. The project took just over a year.
Structurally, things were reasonably sound. The largest structural change was the remodelling of the staircase leading to the second floor, in order to create enough space for a bathroom under the stairs. It also needed substantial rewiring as well as new plumbing for additional bathrooms.
Another early decision was to remove the paint from the exterior, restoring the house it to its natural red-brick beauty. This process had to be done brick by brick, all by hand, and took over six months.
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Each floor had its own issues. The second floor required remodelling, the removal of partition walls plus new corridors added to improve the sense of flow, the addition of a bathroom. This part of the house has fewer original features so was relatively easy in terms of listed building consent.
The ground floor was dominated by a vast open-plan reception room which they divided into a living room and dining room by installing double doors which they sourced from salvage.
With a listed house of this scale, making the most of what you have is key. “Originally you could only access the dining room through the sitting room but we were able to create a new doorway, taking a door frame from another part of the house for an exact match,” says Alexie.
The same was true of the flooring. Lifting the carpets revealed natural oak flooring which had been marred by previous changes and repairs to the services that run beneath.
“We decided to sacrifice the flooring in the smallest room to give material to make seamless repairs in the others,” she adds. The original plan was to replace the kitchen but their contractor persuaded them otherwise.
“It was good advice as they are good quality units,” concedes Alexie, “So we changed the layout a little and had the cabinetry sanded and repainted, and replaced the worktop.”
In creating the decorating scheme, Alexie and her mother looked to the history of the house and to magazines to hone a quintessential English style. “We did a lot of research as it was the first project of this size for me, and my mother is used to working in a more contemporary style, being an architect from Paris,” says Alexie.
“Plus, of course, Andrew had his own ideas which were altogether different. He wanted something very cosy with lots of colours, lots of patterns and a bit of a mismatch. We spent a lot of time going through images together to refine the vision.” The completed design is a perfect balance of elegant traditional, contemporary twist and French flair.
“For the design, we tried to draw from the surroundings the house is in and the history of the town and of the stud. You can tell it is not a classic English interior - it is grand but cosy, elegant but not pretentious, and despite all of our research on traditional English interiors, it does have a French twist!” says Alexie.
The design reflects the fixed features of the house such as the horse-racing murals in the billiard room and the vast swathes of green of the surrounding fields. The panelling was a new introduction.
“In France, it’s very traditional, especially for rooms that have very high ceilings,” explains Alexie. “It breaks up the expanse of plain wall. Traditionally it is there to protect the walls, so you find low panels at around sofa height in the sitting room and taller panels at dining chair height in the dining room. As you can see, we have swopped the rooms. There was a later issue with the fireplace installation so we had to change them round.”
Much of the furniture came from the family home in London and Alexie is a regular at auction houses. “I buy a lot in France and saw this enormous table that I knew would be perfect for Egerton,” she says. "Andrew said to buy it and I did, but of course you have to take it away that day.
"So there I was in Paris with a 3.5 metre-long table and just my little car. I had to squash it into my Paris apartment until I could figure out how to get it to England.” The table is perfect for a house that can comfortably host 20.
Upstairs the house has 10 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom – eight en suite and two private bathrooms – and each room is subtly-themed. “It is not overt theming but we wanted each room to have its own character,” says Alexie.
This newly-restored house has bags of character. From the racing-themed billiard room that celebrates the house’s racing past to the sympathetic decorating of the grand entrance and main receptions, Alexie, Dominique and Andrew have struck the right balance here to create a clear winner.
The house is available to rent and stay. Contact egertonstud.co.uk 07515456998
Racing is on at Newmarket!
Sizzling Summer Saturday Racedays
Summer Saturdays have an event to suit everyone. With exciting action on the track and a vibrant atmosphere off it, there's a whole host of different themed days to enjoy. The beautiful July Course is perfect for friends and family wanting to savour the buzz of horseracing, a drink and maybe a flutter or two.
Every Saturday during July and August. Information and tickets at thejockeyclub.co.uk
Sir Tom Jones headlines at Newmarket Nights
Sir Tom Jones is headlining at Newmarket Racecourses on July 23, where he’ll be performing hits from his huge repertoire, spanning genres and generations including Kiss, Delilah and It’s Not Unusual. Limited hospitality still available. Call 01638 675300 or email Newmarket.Hospitality@thejockeyclub.co.uk. Please be aware there will be no tickets available on the day.
Olly Murs live after evening racing on Friday, July 30
Olly will perform his biggest hits, including tracks from his recently certified triple platinum album Never Been Better
Jess Glynne live after evening racing on Friday August 6
With two Number 1 albums and seven UK Number 1 singles under her belt, expect to hear all your favourite hits.
Rick Astley live after evening racing on Friday August 13
Rick's era-defining classic Never Gonna Give You Up topped charts the world over and catapulted the 80s icon on a journey that would earn him eight consecutive UK Top 10 hits and 40 million sales.
McFly live after evening racing on Saturday August 28
Having taken a break after touring as the pop phenomenon that was McBusted — McFly return with a spectacular live show playing their best-loved mega-hits such as All About You, Obviously, Star Girl, One for the Radio and Shine a Light.
Tickets and information at thejockeyclub.co.uk