In Raleigh there are many fine homes. The best of these, however, can be rivaled by the residence of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars cofounder, Sir Henry Royce, which was recently put on the market. Brae Cottage, located in Knutsford, Cheshire, United Kingdom, is an impressive estate.
Built in 1898 by architect Paul Ogden, it also features interior design work by architect Alfred Waterhouse, who designed the Town Hall in Knutsford. Henry Royce, then 35, was to own the house for the next 10 years. From then until now it has been inhabited by only three other families.
It was at this time that Henry Royce began to experiment with motors. He would bring home designs and models to tinker in the basement, and would test early vehicles in the driveway. A date stone at the front of the house bears the initials of his wife, Minnie Grace. The couple were joined by Minnie’s mother, and Minnie’s niece.
“Brae” is the Lowland Scot word for the slope or brow of a hill. It’s also tied to an Old Norse term, breiðr, which means “broad.” Both words connote a curvature or decline of surface, which is a concept familiar to most automakers.
The house was one of the first in its area to be wired for electricity, a strange and exciting new magic altogether fitting for a man who meant to bring wonderful automobiles to the public. The solid brick construction and openly-surfaced wood interior provided a haven to a man some would call obsessed with work.
The spectacular grounds are noteworthy for their modesty and rustic spirit. The house retains many of its original fixtures commissioned by Sir Royce at its inception, including light switches and doors that seem starkly out of place in today’s world. It is precisely this quaintness and inurement to time that makes Brae Cottage so valuable. The asking price is £2.2 million.