Emma Wells

Inside Kelly Castle (baronetcy optional)

For most of us, a cursory flick through an in-flight magazine might lead to the purchase of a G&T, or a bottle of perfume. For Alun Grassick, it was a slightly more substantial investment. When he spotted an ad for a crumbling B Listed castle in the Angus countryside, with its towers, turrets, an associated

Inside the fading beauty of Crowland Manor

Ceramicist Sophie Wilson’s Christmas decorations at her Lincolnshire manor house are calmingly analogue. For her, there are no flashing lights, tawdry tinsel or store-bought baubles.   ‘I love to have bare trees around, and always have a huge one in the main kitchen, big enough so I can tilt my head back and gaze up

Inside Jerome K Jerome’s nine-bedroom Oxfordshire house

Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat – a tale of three hapless, hypochondriac London clerks who take a trip along the River Thames in the hope of curing their ailments – became an instant bestseller when it was published in 1889, and hasn’t been out of print since. Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux and

Inside the Cornish home of John le Carré

Every writer needs a bolt hole. Novelist John le Carré’s was particularly picturesque, perched high above the waves on one of south Cornwall’s most glorious coastal stretches, between Lamorna and Porthcurno.  Tregiffian Cottage, made up of a trio of former fishermen’s homes, was where Le Carré conceived and wrote some of his most famous novels,

Inside the Glastonbury home of Mulberry’s founder

Roger Saul founded Mulberry in 1971. He created their now iconic range of bags, belts and purses, but was ousted from the designer label’s board in the early Noughties. Undeterred, he reinvented himself as the purveyor of organic spelt cereal and flour brand, Sharpham Park. His range of products is de rigueur on every health-conscious

The mysterious history behind an 11-bedroom country manor that’s up for sale

With its perfectly soaring Jacobean-style architecture, leaded windows and enchanting walled garden, all set within 17-plus acres of East Sussex countryside, Grade II* Listed Possingworth Manor is the rural idyll of an English country house.   Despite its tranquil appearance, however, the 11-bedroom, 8,500 sq ft manor near Uckfield has had a disproportionate share of drama over

Inside Denham Place, inspiration for the early James Bond films

House hunters nearly always have to make a compromise to suit their budget – the size of the garden, say, or those dated avocado bathroom suites, or the slightly inconvenient distance from the station. You might think that being a multi-millionaire would exonerate you from such stresses, making finding your dream home trouble-free.   Not so,

For sale: Jane Austen’s birthplace

‘There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,’ wrote the eminently quotable Jane Austen in Emma, in 1815. ‘Nobody can be more devoted to home than I am.’   If the incomparable Regency writer and social critic could see Steventon House, on the site of her birthplace and childhood home in Hampshire, she would

Home is where the art is: inside J.M.W Turner’s last house

Joseph Mallord William Turner continues to occupy a singular place in British cultural consciousness. The English Romantic artist, watercolourist and printmaker – often referred to as ‘the painter of light’ – elevated landscape painting to high art and, when he died in 1851, left a legacy of 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours and 30,000 works

The Norfolk manor house that inspired Virginia Woolf

Many English country houses lay claim to literary legacies. Blo Norton Hall, however, has more right than most. In the summer of 1906, while in her early twenties, Virginia Woolf rented the Elizabethan Norfolk manor house with her older sister, artist Vanessa. The seven-mile journey there from Diss station, through isolated countryside, and their arrival

For sale, the £3m Welsh mansion with political foundations

Known as Wales’s first tycoon, the industrialist and Liberal politician David Davies was born in 1818 in a hillside tenement in the village of Llandinam, Powys. Davies, the son of a farmer and sawyer, went on to amass a fortune through bridge-building, railways, coal-mining and dock development, while also serving as an MP for Cardigan.  

The £6m country house that was home to Churchill’s secret army

The high-risk, adrenaline-fuelled operations dramatised in recent BBC1 mini-series SAS Rogue Heroes left viewers gripped. Not quite as attention-grabbing, but no less fearless (or dangerous), were the activities of another special forces unit, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) – a volunteer force set up in 1940 to wage a secret war. Famously ordered by Prime

Is this Britain’s most historic house?

Hyperbole in estate agents’ brochures isn’t unusual – but when it comes to a write-up for Great Tangley Manor, which has gone on the market for £8.95 million, overkill is almost impossible. Believed to be the UK’s oldest continuously inhabited property – its Saxon foundations date from 1016 – the Grade I-listed moated manor house, in

Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan and the house with comedy value

Part of an 1890s terrace of Arts and Crafts buildings, 9 Orme Court, off the Bayswater Road in W2, is at first glance simply the kind of grand red-brick townhouse you’d expect to find in the area. Look up beyond the elegant entrance canopy to the ornate first floor balcony, however, and above it you’ll

The £15m Surrey mansion where Rudolf Hess was held prisoner

The restoration of any run-down English country mansion is likely to involve extensive re-roofing, re-plumbing and re-wiring. Only one, however, is likely to uncover microphone wires hidden deep within walls by MI6, or involve the polishing of a grand, three-storey oak staircase over which Hitler’s top henchman, dressed in full Nazi regalia, tried to throw

The Mayfair mansion that was once the home of Gucci

Minimalists, look away now. With its magnificent 20ft-high ornately plastered ceilings, lashings of gold leaf, bookcases topped by busts of Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius – and its role as the global HQ of one of the world’s most glamorous fashion empires – this 14,000 sq ft Mayfair mansion is in need of

Inside the Henley mansion that housed the Fords and the Kennedys

Turville Grange has many of the expected hallmarks of the top-end English country houses and estates on the market this spring. First comes its punchy price tag – in this case £18.75m – and lusted after location, the upmarket riverside town of Henley-on-Thames, in Oxfordshire. Then there are its classic good looks: built in Queen

The Bridgerton effect: a guide to buying Georgian homes

With its high society intrigue, gossipy plotlines, raunchy love scenes and gravity defying hair do’s, all set against the backdrop of spectacularly sumptuous homes, Netflix series Bridgerton has rewritten the rules for small-screen period drama. The Shonda Rhimes exec-produced series gained 193 million hours of viewing time for its second series in the first three days –