TALK OF THE TOWN: ‘Rave king; James Perkins is the unlikely saviour for the £15m Elizabethan mansion destroyed in a mystery fire
An unlikely saviour has been found for one of the country’s finest Elizabethan mansions which was destroyed in a mysterious fire.
Step forward James Perkins, who made his fortune from raves before becoming a property developer with a taste for the eccentric.
Walk into one of his many refurbishments, and you are likely to encounter a four-poster bed resembling a classical temple or a stuffed lion wearing a crown. Now, James, 50, who was regarded as the ‘king of the 1990s rave scene’, has snapped up Grade I-listed Parnham House in Dorset, which was once valued at £15 million but was on the market for a cut-price £2.5 million.
James Perkins, pictured right with Sophie Taylor, left, made his fortune from raves before becoming a property developer with a taste for the eccentric
Now, James, 50, who was regarded as the ‘king of the 1990s rave scene’, has snapped up Grade I-listed Parnham House in Dorset, which was once valued at £15 million but was on the market for a cut-price £2.5 million after it was destroyed in a fire
James’ own home features this Oak painted off-white four poster bed resembling a classical temple
The house has a tragic history. Its former owners, financier Michael Treichl and his Vogue model wife Emma, spent millions lovingly restoring the 16th Century property.
But it was largely destroyed by a suspected arson attack in April 2017, losing most of its roof and internal structure. Austrian-born Michael was found drowned in Lake Geneva a few weeks after his arrest on suspicion of arson.
Parnham will be a challenging project, even for someone like James. He already owns celebrity playground Aynhoe Park, a 28-bedroom pile in Northamptonshire, which is hired out for weddings and boasts the temple-style four-poster.
He made his fortune as a co-founder of Fantazia, a dance music powerhouse which put on a series of legal raves – most notably at Castle Donington in 1992, which attracted 30,000 people.
Since moving into property development, a number of his projects, which include Dowdeswell Park and the Round Tower, both in the Cotswolds, have won awards for their sensitivity and architectural ambition.
He bought Aynhoe, a grand 17th Century Palladian mansion, in 2006, after flying over it in a helicopter. Described as ‘Downton-meets-Wonderland’, it boasts 250 acres landscaped by Capability Brown, a private nightclub in the cellar, and an eccentric art and taxidermy collection, including a polar bear in flying goggles.
Run by James and his creative director wife Sophie Taylor, it regularly hosts celebrity weddings and parties. Noel Gallagher celebrated his 50th birthday there.
James’s plans for Parnham, near Beaminster, remain unclear, although it is understood Historic England has insisted three external walls are kept intact and that the property remains a home.
Historic England said experts would soon be meeting the new owner. ‘The property remains vulnerable and we would all like to see restoration works begin soon,’ a spokesman added.
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