Almost famous: unique homes with a storied past

Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

From serving as the murder scene of a fictional impresario, to educating a true national treasure, to having the King of England (yes – the King of England!) for tea, discover these unique homes with a storied past.

 

Every home has a tale to tell, but some leave a lasting legacy – whether local, national or fictional – that bolsters their soul and history. And so it is with this week’s collection of unique homes with a storied past, taking in art deco opulence, Regency heritage, Victorian manor-isms, and the early Renaissance.

 

 

Fit for a king

Homes with a storied past: King Henry VII has afternoon tea at this house in Rye.

As visitations go, having the King of England over for tea must rank among the most illustrious. And it was here in Rye that Watchbell Chambers was graced by the presence of Henry VII for what must have been a smashing afternoon – all royal pronouncements,  colossal fawning and mounds of whatever preceded crumpets in the 15th century.

Homes with a storied past: King Henry VII had afternoon tea at this house in Rye.

The house covers more than 3,400 sq ft over three storeys, with wonderful views towards Camber Castle and the sea beyond from the upper floors. Whether the king felt upstaged or matched by the majestic interior is lost to history, but we can be thankful that he never returned: the house may otherwise have been swallowed into the royal fold and never been available to buy.

For sale at £1,450,000 – click here to discover Watchbell Chambers

 

Absolutely fabulous

Homes with a storied past: Joanna Lumley spent six years at this convent school near Hastings.

From one type of royalty to another, the reliably regal Joanna Lumley was a pupil at this former girls’ school set in gorgeous elevated grounds above Hastings. The future Purdy and Patsy cherished her time here and, as a prefect, could be found “swishing about in pleated skirts and twinsets demanding respect and subservience.”

Homes with a storied past: Joanna Lumley spent six years at this convent school near Hastings.

Although it made a wonderful school, Holmhurst St Mary’s was originally built as the family residence of Victorian botanist and travel writer Adolphus Hare. He chose the spot for its far-reaching views of the sea and Sussex countryside, and these are now enjoyed by the residents of the seven glamorous homes created out of the building’s conversion. This 3,200 sq ft four-bedroom duplex occupies the central section and includes the previous sixth-form common room – almost certainly one of the young Ms Lumley’s hangouts.

For sale at £990,000 – click here to discover Holmhurst St Mary

 

Top of the class

Sticking with the theme of education, this detached Georgian home in the middle of Hastings was built around the turn of the 18th century and was, for some years, the head teacher’s house of the nearby school. With its tucked away position away from the road and passers-by, the location would have afforded a welcome solace and silence away from the classroom mayhem. 

Inside, Spring Cottage covers around 1,200 sq ft and, alongside plenty of retained Regency heritage, has been thoroughly updated for contemporary lifestyles with underfloor heating, a chic kitchen, a private roof terrace, and large glass interventions blurring the boundaries between inside and out.

For sale at £700,000 – click here to discover Spring Cottage

 

Stealing the scene

Homes with a storied past: an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot featured this modernist house in Amersham

Used as a filming location for Agatha Christie’s Poirot, featuring David Suchet as the famous French detective, High & Over in Amersham captured perfectly the new decadence of the late 1920s as the home of murdered impresario Henry Reedburn. The light-filled interior, along with studios and garaging, covers around 5,000 sq ft, while almost two acres of gardens include a swimming pool and woodland.

Homes with a storied past: an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot featured this modernist house in Amersham

This was Britain’s first modernist house, and the design by Amyas D Connell and Basil Robert Ward caused suburban outrage when it was built, not to mention instant credibility among architects, artists and forward-looking types. Commissioned in 1929 as his family home by Bernard Ashmole (then Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of London) and completed in 1931, the building’s influence and pedigree are reflected in its Grade 2 listing. 

For sale at £3,000,000 – click here to discover High & Over

 

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