Unique art and car collection plans for Ramsbury Manor

Plans have been unveiled for an extraordinary new exhibition center which will showcase the unique collection of a Wiltshire millionaire.

Property magnate Harry Hyams left a huge art collection to the nation in a £487 million will after his death in 2015.

Now a planning application has been lodged for an exhibition center to help showcase the art, old cars and other items asssed by the businessman at his home at Ramsbury Manor.

The scheme has been developed over the last seven years by the Ramsbury Manor Foundation, which was set up to conserve Mr Hyams’ collections, put them on display and advance the arts and education.

Mr Hyams lived at the grade one listed manor house for 51 years after buying the estate in 1964, building up one of the most significant art collections in the country.

It includes work by Canaletto and Turner, but My Hyams was also a car collector, with his vehicles including a 1967 Ferrari which was one of only 14 of its kind ever made.

Documents submitted as part of the application to Wiltshire Council underline Mr Hyams’ attention to detail when building up his art collection. He would have full-size photos of artworks taken and framed so he could work out the best place to hang them.

The foundation’s trustees were keen to site the center on the manor estate, and decided that the existing estate yard would be the best location.

The single-storey building would house works of art, classic cars, a lecture theater, a conservation studio and a small shop and café.

The number of people visiting at any one time would be strictly limited.

The foundation says the new center and the 17th century manor house itself would be open to the public four days a week, with two ‘cohorts’ of 60 people each day. Tickets would have to be booked in advance.

A report which is part of the application says: “The result is an attractive scheme that blends into the landscape and provides a lasting contribution to the estate whilst not detracting from the special qualities of its and landscape.”

The application also includes detailed plans for the relocation of the existing estate yard.

Reclusive Mr Hyams, who was rarely seen in public or photographed, started work as an office boy aged 17 and made his money through shrewd dealings in real estate development and by the time he was 30 he was a millionaire. At one point, he was ranked number 332 in the Sunday Times Rich List.