Former Prime Minister's home goes on the market for £1.85m

A flat in a country mansion which was once the family home of prime minister Arthur Balfour has gone on the market for £1.85 million.

Whittinghame House is the former family home of Arthur Balfour.
Whittinghame House is the former family home of Arthur Balfour.

Public rooms in Apartment 1 in Whittinghame House in East Lothian have played host to a remarkable roll-call of eminent political figures including William Gladstone, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Joseph Chamberlain as well as authors H G Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Balfour family sold Whittingehame House in 1963 and it became Holt School for Boys, which originated in Lockerbie. The school closed in 1980, after which it was split into apartments.

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The home was also visited by King Edward VII who planted a commemorative oak tree in the grounds.

Malcolm Leslie, partner in Strutt & Parker’s Edinburgh office, said: “The period elegance and splendour of this, the principal apartment at Whittingehame House, must be one of the finest examples of its kind and is deserving of the ‘best in class’ epithet. It is redolent with history but equally offers very comfortable contemporary living.”

“It is particularly unusual in offering the benefits of a stately residence but without the overheads associated with a house of this nature.

Whittingehame’s architect Sir Robert Smirke, commissioned by James Balfour, who made his fortune in India, was responsible for a number of neoclassical buildings including the Royal Mint Court at Tower Hill and the British Museum in Bloomsbury in London. The New Statistical Account called it a ‘splendid mansion of Grecian architecture’ and to this day it is regarded as one of the country's finest neo-classical country houses.

James Balfour’s grandson, A J Balfour, was born at Whittingehame and succeeded to the estate in 1856, aged seven. Later, he lived there during the summer and parliamentary recess, before eventually serving as Foreign Secretary. In 1917 he made the Balfour Declaration, a statement of British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine - which some reports claim was signed in the library at Whittingehame House.

The property includes three opulent state rooms, a secret door in the library and a conservatory which has been converted into a bathroom. It also sits in 16 acres of grounds, which form part of the sale of Apartment 1, including a lime walk, a terraced garden within a balustrade, a six-car garage block and a tennis court.