Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 13:49 UK

Laura Ashley mansion up for sale

Rhydoldog House
Rhydoldog House was used for Laura Ashley photoshoots as well as being a family home

The family of Laura Ashley are asking for £1.2m for the Victorian mansion which they called home for many years.

Rhydoldog House is set in 50 acres and is close to the fashion and furnishing empire's former base at Carno, Powys.

The family are no longer using the property as much as they used to and could not justify keeping it, said the estate agent looking after the sale.

The property, which is thought to date back to the 15th Century, has seven bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Situated around two miles from Rhayader, the property was originally thought to be a traditional Welsh longhouse and records show it was owned between 1662 and 1761 by local farming families.

Bedroom in Rhydoldog House
The house was bought by the Ashleys in 1973

High-ranking military officials and bankers who lived there enlarged and developed the property from the 18th century onwards before it was bought by Laura Ashley - who was born at Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil - and her husband Sir Bernard in 1973 as a place to raise their family.

During the 70s and 80s the house was also used for the promotion of Laura Ashley and its products and its decor still reflects the famous floral patterns designed by the firm.

The house is the current base of the Laura Ashley Foundation, the organisation established in memory of the designer which distributes funding to worthy cause, particularly in Powys.

Jane, one of the Ashleys' daughters, told the Western Mail that the foundation would be rehoused in Powys or would become London-based.

Peter Reilly, head of residential sales at estate agent Savills, said the family had been in talks with the National Trust to try to avoid selling it, but no agreement could be reached.

"The fact of the matter is that they don't use it and they cannot justify keeping it," he said.

Reception room in Rhydoldog House
The Ashleys set up their first factory in Carno in 1961

"I think there is quite a bit of regret and a lot of soul searching about whether any of the children could occupy it as their main residence.

"It is wonderfully secluded. But if your base is in London, which is where a lot of their businesses are, it is a little too far for them to come.

"They have other houses around there but this was their mother's house so is obviously very important to them."

Mr Reilly said the house had been very well looked after and its "shabby chic" made it a comfortable rather than a formal home.

"The advert only went out on Thursday and we've already been taking a lot of calls from potential buyers from quite a wide area," he said.

The Ashleys began printing fabric in their home in Pimlico, London, in the 1950s.

Their expansion saw them set up a factory in Carno in the 1960s and the firm grew to have 5,000 retail outlets worldwide.

Laura Ashley died aged 60 in 1985 after an accident at her daughter's home, and Sir Bernard died last February, aged 82.

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