CLARENDON Park estate near Salisbury, home of the Christie-Miller family for more than 85 years, has changed hands.

The 4,200-acre estate, which includes the Grade II listed Georgian mansion house and 30 other properties, has been sold to a "young English couple" for a rumoured £30m.

Andrew Christie-Miller (55), the third generation of his family to live on the estate, told the Journal this week that he and his wife Barbara would be leaving Clarendon by October and are currently looking for a new home in the Scottish borders.

He declined to say who had bought the estate or reveal the sale price, but did say the young couple were intending to renovate the run-down main house to make it their home and run the estate, which includes cottages, arable farmland, livestock and 1,200 acres of woodland.

Mr Christie-Miller admitted leaving Clarendon would be hard and said he had enjoyed running the estate, which became his responsibility on the death of his father in 1968.

But he said he was looking forward to new challenges. He said there were a number of reasons for moving on, including the huge expense of running a large country house and estate. The main house also needed "an awful lot of money spent on it," he added.

"It needs someone who is able and willing to spend a great deal of money and time and the couple who have bought Clarendon intend to do that," he said.

"My wife and I have been phenomenally lucky to have been able to live in one of the most beautiful estates in this part of the world."

Mr and Mrs Christie-Miller will divide their time between their home in Italy and their new home, yet to be bought, in the borders.

Mr Christie-Miller is chairman of the Grainfarmers' group, president of the local Council for Voluntary Service and a member of the Salisbury Cathedral Trust. He has also been chairman of the Timber Growers' Association and of the Forest Industry Committee.

Clarendon House has not been lived in for a quarter of a century. Mr Christie-Miller, his wife and their five children, moved out of the house to live in an adjoining converted stable block because of the cost of trying to live in and maintain such a large property.

In the early 1980s, a £100,000 restoration programme was set in motion by Mr Christie-Miller, who is a qualified surveyor.

Following criticism from Salisbury district council for demolishing a Victorian wing of the house and allowing the listed house to decay, Mr Christie-Miller took on the challenge to restore it to its former elegance and turn it into a venue for business, social and cultural events.

His wife took responsibility for the choice of decorations and furnishings and oversaw the revival of the house.

In subsequent years it was used for many events, it was a popular film set for period costume dramas and was the setting for one of the most hilarious scenes ever filmed for television the chandelier sequence in Only Fools and Horses.