'Flying Giraffe' at Aynhoe Park.

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It was bought by James and Sophie Perkins as a block of retirement apartments following the dissolving of the Country Houses Association in 2004.

After restoration and a spectacular redecoration project, it became the family home, the base for the interior decorating brand A Modern Grand Tour and a deluxe entertainment venue favoured by society magazines.

The collection of architectural and sculptural casts at Aynhoe numbering nearly 4500 pieces is recognised as being one of the most significant in private hands. A portion of the collection will be offered at Dreweatts in a two-day sale on January 20-21 called Aynhoe Park: The Celebration of a Modern Grand Tour.

Among the highlights in the Donnington Priory sale are the conceptual works that have become the best-known and most coveted symbols of Aynhoe such as the famous ‘flying giraffe’ from the Orangery (above).

Other items include a plaster cast of a section from the Erechteion in Athens. Created in the 20th century after the antique, it is estimated at £10,000-15,000.

The next project for the Perkins duo is Parnham House in Dorset: a Grade I-listed mansion badly damaged by fire in 2017. The house was sold to James for £2.5m this year to be developed as “a base for ‘adventure’ stays and visits”.