Historic hunting estate on the market for $27.5 million

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In 1930, as a wedding gift to his wife, John Hay “Jock” Whitney gave Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Altemus the vast hunting estate known as Llangollen. Now, nearly a century later, the Upperville, Virginia property is on the market for $27.5 million.

Although Llangollen dates back to the colonial era, it was the Whitneys who made it what Kitty Slater called “one of the most famous estates in Hunt Country” in her 1973 book “The Hunt Country of America”.

Leven Powell received title to the land from Lord Fairfax and built the house in 1795, calling it Llangollen, after a town in Wales. Powell, who founded Middleburg, Virginia, made his fortune from sharecroppers and enslaved labor. His son Cuthbert Powell inherited Llangollen in 1810 and added to the house in 1820.

After the Civil War, Llangollen fell into decline before Harry Toulmin, the solicitor who secured the patent for Orville and Wilbur Wright’s ‘flying machine’, bought it in 1908 and undertook a lavish rehabilitation of the 10-year-old mansion later.

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llangollen | The 1,100-acre property, which has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is listed at $27.5 million. (Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media)

The Whitneys shared a passion for horses, among their many other pursuits. Liz was an accomplished rider before her marriage and introduced Thoroughbred racing to Llangollen. Jock was a scion of the wealthy and socially prominent Whitney family, and later became one of the wealthiest men in America – as well as US Ambassador to the UK, publisher of the New York Herald Tribune and trustee of the Museum of Modern Art. He brought polo to Llangollen.

The Whitneys founded the Llangollen Race Meeting, an obstacle course which attracted 20,000 spectators. They transformed the mansion in 1931 and added nine guest rooms, a polo field, a racecourse, a training track and the estate’s famous horseshoe-shaped stables.

Over the years Llangollen has become the center of the area’s social and equestrian scene, hosting notable guests such as Bing Crosby, Doris Duke, Senator Joseph McCarthy, heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney, jockey Eddie Arcaro and Prince Aly Khan, who married the film actress. Rita Hayworth.

The Whitneys’ marriage lasted 10 years. Liz would marry three more times. Llangollen flourished under his leadership, becoming one of the leading racing stables in the United States. But by the time of his death in 1988, Llangollen had fallen into disrepair.

Roy Ash, a California businessman who was a budget adviser in the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, acquired Llangollen in 1989, saving the mansion from developers who wanted to demolish it to build homes. Ash restored the house and modernized it.

Donald Brennan, the former head of Morgan Stanley Capital Partners, and his wife, Patricia, bought Llangollen in 2006 for a record $22 million, the highest paid for a hunting estate at the time. The Brennans added three polo fields and an arena. The estate recently housed the Virginia International Polo Club, established by their daughter, Maureen.

The 12,500 square foot mansion has 24 rooms, 17 fireplaces, nine bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.

The 1,100-acre property, which has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It includes eight tenant houses, a jockey guest house, a three-car stone garage with a two-bedroom apartment, stables for 100 horses, nine lapping sheds, an ice house, a potting shed, a blacksmith’s, eight ponds and six miles of roads.

21515 Hatch Rd., Upperville, Virginia.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 9/11 (mansion)
  • Approximate area: 12,500 (mansion)
  • Lot size: 1,100 acres
  • Features: The 1795 mansion was added and renovated in 1820, 1918, 1931 and 1989. John Hay “Jock” Whitney and his wife, Liz, made the estate the center of the area’s social and equestrian scene, welcoming guests such as Bing Crosby, Doris Duke and Prince Aly Khan. The property includes eight tenant houses, a jockey guest house, a three-car stone garage with a two-bedroom apartment, stables for 100 horses, nine lapping sheds, an ice house, a potting shed, a blacksmith , eight ponds and six miles of roads.
  • Listing Agent: Peter Leonard-Morgan, Hunt Country Sotheby’s International Realty

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