We Janeites would kill to live in an Austen-linked stately home. That goes without saying. But – is it possible that such properties are actually not especially desirable to the rest of the world?
That’s what I found myself wondering after a Janeite friend (thanks, @AusteninBoston!) alerted me to a new-ish real estate listing for Scarlets, the eighteenth-century Berkshire mansion once owned by Jane Austen’s maternal uncle James Leigh-Perrot and his difficult wife, Jane Leigh-Perrot.
The house, now known as Scarletts, looks gorgeous, albeit in an updated, modern way that may not appeal to those who want their historic homes to appear kinda – well -- historic. It’s got six bedrooms, quartz countertops in the kitchen, a roof terrace, oodles of natural light, built-in bookcases to die for, a courtyard with a hot tub, and a wine cellar that appears to be larger than many New York City apartments – and all this on more than an acre of land.
And yet it appears very much as if the owners are having trouble selling it.
As blog readers will recall, Scarletts was on the market in 2017, for an asking price of £3.5 million (about $4.8 million). The UK’s online database of real estate transactions seems to have no record of a sale ever having taken place, and now, four years later, the house is on the market again, for an asking price of . . . £3.5 million. And that listing itself went up nearly five months ago.
Among Austen-linked properties, Scarlets, with or without its extra "t," would probably not top a Janeite’s wish list: the Leigh-Perrots were problematic relatives – famously, disappointment over the terms of her uncle’s will may have worsened Austen’s final illness – and although they lived in the house throughout the life of their famous niece, I can’t find any reference to her visiting.
Still, you would think any Austen connection would be a selling point, right? It would be for us, but I guess people with £3.5 million to spend on real estate have other priorities.