Priscilla Carluccio’s farmhouse

They don’t make them like Priscilla Carluccio any more. She travels the globe like a high-level diplomat, collects things with the precise eye of a museum curator and has the no-nonsense clipped tones of a Forties debutante. She is into her seventies but as curious as a five year-old. “Age is totally irrelevant to anything,” she says crisply.

It might, however, be something to do with why she is selling Ivy House Farm in Froxfield, Hampshire. She has owned “the bothy”, as she calls it, since the beginning of the Eighties. She was the creative director of the Conran Shop, sister to Sir Terence, and also the force behind the launch of the Carluccio restaurants as the former wife of chef Antonio Carluccio. Any house owned by her would be interesting.

This one is a 16th-century rescue, a rural waif on which she has lavished attention. When she found it, the roof was covered with tarpaulin and the barn was capped with aluminium. Old cars were strewn around. “I wanted to put it back to the way it should be,” she says. “The idea was to keep the simplicity of what it once was – two cottages, almost certainly lived in by agricultural workers, with barns in an E-shape to shelter the manure, which was really important to them.”

Once builders started work they found an early pre-glass window, with bars across, which would once have been hung with cloth to keep the draughts out. As the house was Grade II listed, the old timbers had to be kept and new ones run alongside where needed. The roof had new thatch using Devon wheat straw. The old wattle and daub walls made with clay from the pond and wattle cut from the copse, were given a fresh skin. Reclaimed tiles were used for the floors.

Priscilla loves nothing better than to watch a craftsman at work. “I’m very keen on people making things and talking about them, and understanding the materials they use,” she says. Her life of scouring the Mediterranean and Asia for rugs, lamps, pots and other desirable objects to sell, has depended on this. She trained as a photographer and has used her photographer’s eye ever since.

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