There’s an echo of England hidden behind a simple stone wall in Bedford Hills.
Tuxford Manor is a charming home seemingly transported from the Cotswolds and tucked into four roadside acres in northern Westchester to create a modern-day retreat.
And like those country homes of the British Isles, there’s always room for large-scale entertaining within its seemingly sedate confines.
“It’s a party house,” owner Shirlee Stokes says with a laugh, summing up what she and her husband, Alan Rothschild, love best about their home.
That’s definitely not what one expects to hear when gazing at leaded windows, thick plaster walls, artfully arched doorways and rich, dark woods. And it’s certainly not what one first thinks of when admiring the 1926 estate’s stone façade and slate roof that come into view as you enter the secured wrought-iron gate and follow the generous driveway, complete with fountain.
But on second thought – and after spending some time with the gracious and lively couple – it’s actually fitting. They share story after story of dining-room tables filled to overflowing for everything from a Sunday dinner to an engagement party or holiday celebration. Temporary tables are pulled into the formal living room when needed, couches pushed to the walls.
And it’s easy to picture the gently sloped and pristinely manicured backyard with teens lazing in the hammock or youngsters splashing about the in-ground pool – charmingly surrounded by grass not cement – while still other friends and family members take a turn on the sought-after clay tennis court.
“We entertain a lot and for us, it was really a place we could easily entertain,” Shirlee says.
A way of life
For every touch of the formal or elegant – and the home has many – there is a counterpoint that is lived-in and laid-back. There is, simply, a sense of welcome.
“It’s a big house but an intimate house at the same time,” Alan says.
The couple meticulously maintains the 14-room home inside and out.
“It’s a big investment,” Shirlee says. “I’m not going to let it go bad.”
No major work, though, was needed when they came to Tuxford Manor just over a decade ago. In the early ’90s, a previous owner created additional living space without any loss of character when seamlessly expanding the home. The newer portion, which mirrors the old with countless windows, rich woods and plenty of nooks, is perhaps a touch more contemporary, but equally distinctive.
It’s that very combination of elements that led Alan, an attorney in White Plains, and Shirlee, a soon-to-retire professor of nursing at Pace University, to make this property the headquarters for their blended family that now includes five adult children and a handful of grandchildren.
“What attracted us is it wasn’t a cookie-cutter house,” Alan says. “It wasn’t a McMansion.”
“It’s just different,” Shirlee adds.
A short tour
And indeed, those differences make for memorable surroundings. The kitchen is a gourmet chef’s dream filled with top-of-the-line appliances, sleek and ample work space, an island complete with seating and a dazzling array of glass-fronted cabinets. The open plan spills into a casual dining area and patio beyond as well as a sunken family room, both spaces created by the addition.
The remainder of the new space, which features a balcony, includes a large guest wing that could easily accommodate a nursery, office or more and is situated over the three-car garage. A space off the pool is used as both a cabana and exercise room, though this, too, could transform into more living space, an office or artist’s light-filled studio.
The original portion of the home meanders, delightfully so. There are a few steps up here and a few down there, leading to a well-appointed formal dining room and a spacious living room.
The living room features a large fireplace. A horse-themed painting hanging over the mantel is a nod to Shirlee’s daughter, a local vet who treats a number of horses.
“You put a fire in there and it’s unbelievably cozy,” Alan says of one of the many vintage fireplaces. But with its thick walls, the room remains cool in summer as well. Tiny touches surprise throughout, including an Art Deco-inspired powder room (a onetime mudroom), hidden down a few steps off the foyer.
A two-story conservatory, visible from that front-to-back foyer, imparts a touch of drama and is Tuxford Manor’s showstopper.
“This room in the winter – and in the summer – is just drop-dead spectacular,” Alan says.
And he’s not exaggerating. There are couches and chaise lounges dotting the tiled floor. One can easily imagine scones and tea on a weekday morning or a hot cocoa on a wintry Saturday afternoon. The conservatory also offers sweeping views of the property, including the tennis court said to have hosted former No. 1 Ivan Lendl (now Andy Murray’s coach) during a previous owner’s tenure.
The upstairs is a series of bedrooms – the home has five in all that are also well-appointed and spacious, with some with unusual ceiling angles that further add to the European feel. The master bath is both simple and luxurious, complete with steam shower and Jacuzzi.
Having it all
From vintage charm to modern amenities, Alan says that Tuxford Manor has it all.
“To me, this is perfect for a family from New York who wants a weekend home, or a full-time house, and doesn’t want the hassle of the Hamptons. You’ve got everything here.”
And even though you know there are neighbors nearby, there is a strong sense of privacy further fueled by four adjacent acres the couple also own.
“We actually bought it so we could keep it like that,” Alan notes, adding those undeveloped acres are also for sale.
Though Tuxford Manor offers a sense of escape, it’s actually just a short jaunt from town, with the Bedford Hills train station within walking distance.
“Civilization is right down the block, and then you drive two minutes and then you’re here,” Alan says.
The name Tuxford Manor, by the way, was inspired by a village the family stumbled upon during a trip to England years ago.
For now, even though plans for yet another party – a baby shower – are under way, the couple is looking to downsize. They want to stay in the area in a more modest, though equally distinctive, home and spend more time on their boat.
“The parties still go on but for the two of us and the dog, it’s kind of much,” Alan says, though he adds Tuxford Manor still captivates him.
“We still feel every time we drive in the driveway, we’re lucky to live here. It’s a thrill.”
And that thrill is one the next owner, no doubt, will also share.
For more information, contact Angela Kessel at Houlihan Lawrence at (914) 234-9099, Ext. 359; (914) 841-1919; or firstname.lastname@example.org.