With acres of gardens, stables, an outdoor swimming pool and an elegant terrace framed by enormous windows, Ray Mill House is undeniably a residence fit for a queen.
And indeed, the beautiful stone manor house in Wiltshire belongs to one. For while the name may not be as familiar to many as her more high profile royal residences, it is the private home of Queen Camilla.
It is here that she retreated following the state funeral and mourning period that followed the death of Queen Elizabeth last September, and where she spends as much time as she can when not required to be at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire and Clarence House in London, the official homes which she shares with King Charles.
Put simply, it is where she is said to be most at home.
Ray Mill House is Camilla’s private home in Wiltshire. She bought it for £850,000 in 1994, shortly before her divorce from first husband Andrew Parker Bowles
The home is set amid several acres and boasts a swimming pool and stables
Ray Mill House is said to be the place where Camilla feels most at home. Pictured: A portrait taken at Ray Mill taken by Kate, the Princess of Wales, to mark Camilla’s 75th birthday
The Queen Consort bought the Wiltshire residence in the months leading up to her divorce from her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles in 1994. She lived there until 2005, and, after her marriage to the then Prince Charles, kept it on as her country retreat.
Purchased for £850,000 at the time, it is likely to be worth substantially more by now. The price of upmarket detached houses in Wiltshire has risen by more than 400 per cent according to the home.co.uk website.
Yet according to those who know her best, it is much more than that: one part sanctuary, one part ‘guilty pleasure’ it is the place where Camilla can shed the trappings of royal life and where, according to one royal source, she can ‘sit down with a big G&T, kick off her shoes and watch Coronation Street, which Charles loathes.’
Indeed, while Ray Mill is located just fifteen minutes’ drive from Highgrove, the two are poles apart in feel, the former a relaxed country dwelling, the latter an altogether more formal affair.
‘Camilla also doesn’t have to bother about how the place looks,’ the source adds of her private home. ‘Charles is so fussy about tidiness, while she leaves her stuff all over the place.’
Camilla bought 17-acre Ray Mill from art historian Worthy Gilson and his wife
While there is no mistaking the grandeur, the decor is low key and familial
According to friends, Ray Mill House is where Camilla can ‘sit down with a big gin and tonic, kick off her shoes and watch Coronation Street, which Charles loathes’
Photos taken inside Ray Mill in recent years certainly show that it reflects Camilla’s laid-back country roots.
While there is no mistaking the grandeur of the dimensions of many of the rooms, the decor is low key and familial, with yellow-coloured walls and floral curtains.
Resolutely unmodernised, the kitchen – featuring a black aga – has yellow walls with red tiles and blue tiled flooring, while the bedrooms are also unfussy, with simple white bedding.
The home undeniably plays a special role for all the family: Camilla’s daughter Laura chose to host her wedding reception at the property when she married her charted accountant fiancé Harry Lopes in 2006 at St Cyriac’s church in the Wiltshire village of Lacock.
Camilla’s daughter Laura chose to host her wedding reception at Ray Mill in 2006
With acres of gardens, stables, an outdoor swimming pool (pictured) and an elegant terrace framed by enormous windows, Ray Mill House is undeniably a residence fit for a queen
Ray Mill is located just fifteen minutes’ drive from Highgrove, but the two are poles apart in feel. Camilla’s home is more relaxed than Highgrove. Pictured: a fountain at Ray Mill House
The stairway at Ray Mill before Camilla moved in . She bought the house in 1994
More recently, it is Ray Mill which Queen Camilla chose as the backdrop for her 75th birthday portraits, taken by her daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge last summer.
Photographed sitting on a bench with a trug filled with pelargoniums, ready to be planted, the smiling Duchess wears a blue and white floral dress and cardigan.
In another picture, Camilla walks through forget-me-nots in her home’s glorious gardens.
Her beaming smile says it all: the new Queen may have any number of grand royal residences to choose from, but it is Ray Mill, the home she chose for herself long before she became a royal bride, that remains special.