House of an art lover: Sir Timothy Clifford set to leave palatial £1.6m home

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AS THE flamboyant head of the National Galleries of Scotland, Sir Timothy Clifford transformed once-austere Scottish museums into colourful, eclectic places where paintings are complemented by curios, sculptures and fine furniture.

• Sir Timothy Clifford moving to be closer to work

It was an approach he also adopted in his own home, the west wing of Tyninghame House in East Lothian, which is crammed with artefacts, fine furniture and scores of 19th century paintings.

But now Sir Timothy and his wife, Lady Jane, are quitting their art-filled home, where they have lived for 21 years, and moving to Bedfordshire so he can be closer to his work.

"It makes a lot more sense for us to live down there," he said.

Sir Timothy is chairman of the London International Fine Art Fair, a trustee of the Wallace Collection and adviser to fine art dealer Simon Dickinson. He also travels often to Italy in his role as trustee of the Venetian Museums.

The family's Scottish home, which is on the market for offers over 1.6 million, is on three floors in part of a grand country house that was once the seat of the Earls of Haddington.

It features a huge double drawing room, a basement kitchen converted from a wine cellar and four bedrooms. Two additional bedrooms on the upper floor have been converted to an office and library.

Sir Timothy said he and his wife planned to take most of their treasures with them – including the drawing-room carpet which once caught the eye of the Queen and was copied for use in St James' Palace.

But he said he would be on hand to help the new owners if necessary: "I'll be happy to sell them a few bits and pieces and advise them, because it would be a huge task to have to refurnish a house like this from scratch."

He said cutting down on travel and being nearer to family had been behind the decision to leave Scotland. "A lot of my work is in London and Italy, and it takes a lot of time to get back and forward. And it means we can be closer to my daughter, son-in-law and grandson."

The Cliffords' daughter Pandora lives in Battersea with her architect husband Ivo Curwen and their five-year-old son.

Lady Jane, a former art lecturer, journalist, interior designer and adviser to Laura Ashley, said she was feeling "rather desolated" about the move.

"I shall miss my friends, miss Scotland, miss the garden – but it makes sense to move when we are still fit."

She said she was "feeling weak at the knees" at the idea of packing everything away.

"It has been a wonderfully happy house. We moved here when my daughter was 11, she had a pony here, she had her 17th birthday here and she had her wedding party here."

Jamie Mcnab, director of Savills, said it was an exceptional property. "In the south of England, a property which is a wing of a manor house is quite common. In Scotland, it is very rare.

"The double drawing room is exceptional and, of course, is greatly added to by having wonderful art on the walls. It is a genuinely spectacular room.

"Tyninghame House to me has always been a little bit special.

"You have got a lot of the benefits of living in a stately home but with the convenience of a family house. You can live like an earl but without a lot of the bother. We are excited to be selling it."