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Laura Ashley holiday home on market

Created on 02/11/2010 @ 18:14
The luxury holiday home owned by the family of the late Laura Ashley has gone on the market for £8.9m.

Le Preverger, in the village of La Garde-Freinet, near St Tropez, is a pre-Napoleonic farmhouse in 150 acres.

Laura Ashley went from small beginnings in a Powys village near Newtown, to having 5,000 shops worldwide.

The Ashleys are understood to have bought Le Preverger in 1982, three years before Mrs Ashley's death.

Now their son Nick has put the opulent property in Provence up for sale for 9.9m Euros (£8.9m).

He is reported as saying: "My mother's love affair with Provence goes back to 1949, when she came here on her honeymoon on the back of my father's motorcycle.

"They vowed to work like hell, become successful and buy their dream home in St Tropez."

The Ashleys bought the house in 1982 from French actress Jeanne Moreau, and Mr Ashley said it had a great history of entertaining.

When his mother went to view the property there were photographs of the artist Pablo Picasso and model Brigitte Bardot on show, as some of the celebrities who had visited.

Mr Ashley said Diana, Princess of Wales was one of her parents' guests, as was Baroness Thatcher.

"My father used to fly her (Baroness Thatcher) around in his helicopter - not that he was a Thatcherite, he just admired the woman," he said.

Mr Ashley said the property was now "surplus to requirements"   

The estate, tucked away in the hills above St Tropez, is described as the size of a hamlet with a main farmhouse and several smaller properties, such as a house for guests.

"The main house has four double bedrooms. It's fundamentally a farmhouse," Mr Ashley explained.

"My parents bought it for the land. They thought owning land was one of the finest things in life, so they bought 150 acres of oak wood in a national park, which is a few miles from St Tropez.

"It's in an elevated position, so it's cooler in the summer. It's sophisticated and refined, and a place where you can get away from the crowds.

"It has been used as a holiday home by the family and we could continue to use it that way, but it's too important for that and it needs to be used on a daily basis."

From humble beginnings at the Old Railway House in the sleepy village of Carno, Laura Ashley grew to have 5,000 retail outlets worldwide.

In 1984, the firm opened its new company headquarters in Newtown, creating 500 jobs.

But in the 1990s its fortunes faded, and in 2004 its former headquarters in Carno closed.