Connect with us

Current

The Sussex mansion that inspired Cluedo

Voice Of EU

Published

on

One morning last week I boarded a train in London, more than a little nervous about the contents of my luggage, which included a rope, candlestick, lead piping, wrench and a hypodermic needle.

How, I wondered, would I explain their presence if I were apprehended by a police officer en route? All I could hope was that the representative of Her Majesty’s constabulary would be familiar with Cluedo and its murder weapons, and would chuckle as I explained — and let me on my way.

For I was heading to No. 4, Tudor Close, in the village of Rottingdean, near Brighton, East Sussex, a mock-Tudor pile that inspired the classic whodunnit board game that, since its invention more than 70 years ago, has sold in its millions worldwide.

Tudor Close, the home that inspired the classic boardgame Cluedo, has gone on the market for 'offers above £1million

Tudor Close, the home that inspired the classic boardgame Cluedo, has gone on the market for ‘offers above £1million

The first edition of the iconic board game was even named Murder at Tudor Close after the former hotel before it sold millions of copies around the world

The first edition of the iconic board game was even named Murder at Tudor Close after the former hotel before it sold millions of copies around the world

A historic home that inspired Cluedo and once hosted Hollywood icons including Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Errol Flynn has gone up for sale. (Pictured, Cary Grant, left, and Sir Laurence Olivier, right)

A historic home that inspired Cluedo and once hosted Hollywood icons including Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Errol Flynn has gone up for sale. (Pictured, Cary Grant, left, and Sir Laurence Olivier, right)

Anthony Pratt and his wife Elva, in the early 1940s, around the time they devised their mystery game

Anthony Pratt and his wife Elva, in the early 1940s, around the time they devised their mystery game

There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator

 There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator

The Grade II building became the inspiration for the murder mystery classic after a 1937 refurbishment introduced a billiards room, ball room, ladies bar and restaurant

The Grade II building became the inspiration for the murder mystery classic after a 1937 refurbishment introduced a billiards room, ball room, ladies bar and restaurant

And my collection of ‘weapons’? Props for my own murder-mystery experience.

Many years ago, the property — which has just gone on the market for ‘over £1 million’ — was part of a cosy hotel where the guests were first thrilled with those weapons, blood-curdling screams and ‘dead’ bodies on murder-mystery evenings.

And they weren’t just any old guests. They were the cream of A-list Hollywood, ranging from Cary Grant and Errol Flynn, to Bette Davis and Merle Oberon, to Laurence Olivier and Randolph Scott.

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade.

‘Professor Plum did it, in the library, with the lead piping!’ I say to Denise as she opens the door. She rolls her eyes having heard it all before — and introduces me to Trevor.

The couple, who are in their 70s, are perfect ambassadors for homicidal board games, beautiful architecture and kindly hospitality.

‘Before the pandemic, we hosted a murder mystery night of our own,’ says Denise, a retired art teacher. ‘I gave everybody a script and a character and told them what costumes to wear. They were all wonderful.

‘Trevor played the butler and I the maid. And while people were having a drink in the bar, I had to scream at the top of my voice and everyone ran in to find me with the body. Though, it was just fake legs sticking out of a box.’

Tudor Close was built in 1929 from a derelict set of farm buildings by the developer Charles W. Neville. It was intended to be seven self-contained dwellings but once the Great Depression hit, they didn’t sell and so Neville combined them into a hotel.

‘It is a mix of mock Tudor and Elizabethan architecture, which was all the rage then,’ says Trevor, a retired professor who used to teach business and accounting. ‘They called the style “Tudorbethan”. The hotel was luxurious, with tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a bar and billiard room.’

It became so successful with American film stars of the 1930s and 1940s that Neville quipped he was attracting more business from Hollywood than Britain.

The parents of Julie Andrews worked at the hotel in its heyday and the Mary Poppins’ star is said to have kick-started her singing career there as a child performer.

Estate agents over-use the word ‘stunning’ — but Grade II-listed Tudor Close is nothing short of this, with ancient ships’ timbers, parquet floors, stone fireplaces, carvings and leadlight windows.

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al

The current owners say they have continued the tradition and hosted popular Cluedo themed parties over the years there

The current owners say they have continued the tradition and hosted popular Cluedo themed parties over the years there

In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance

 In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours.

So how did Cluedo come about? It was while working as hotel entertainments manager that pianist Anthony Pratt and wife Elva began their murder-mystery evenings.

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al. There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator.

The first version of the game was called Murder At Tudor Close. Manufacturer John Waddington Ltd began producing it for the mass market in 1949.

Jonathan Foster, in his 2013 book The Story Of Cluedo, claimed Waddingtons was less than fair with Anthony and Elva when it came to sharing the profits from the game. In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance.

‘Waddingtons told Anthony that the game wasn’t selling very well, particularly in America,’ Foster wrote. ‘And they offered him a deal: sign over the international rights to Cluedo for a one-off payment of £5,000. The deal would mean that he would still get the royalties from Cluedo sales in the UK.’

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade

That £5,000 is worth about £143,000 today and was no small sum — until you consider that 150 million Cluedo sets have been sold in 40 countries.

‘Anthony could have negotiated a much better deal had he known just how important Cluedo was to Waddingtons and Parker Brothers [holder of U.S. rights] — and indeed that it was actually selling well in America,’ concludes Foster.

In 1990, inventor Anthony claimed not to have been bothered by the riches that failed to come his way.

‘A great deal of fun went into it,’ he said, ‘so why grumble?’ He died four years later, aged 90.

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films. Today it is owned by the U.S. company Hasbro.

Back at No.4, the Hoppers seem slightly unnerved when I remove a wrench and a magnifying glass from my bag. But they are good sports and Trevor agrees to play our murder victim.

‘It was Denise, with the candlestick, in the lounge!’ I shout.

It was then that the Hoppers decided they had indulged me enough and my personal murder-mystery experience concluded. And I still don’t know whodunnit!

Source link

Current

Teenager arrested after car driven through Co Down parade, injuring two

Voice Of EU

Published

on

A teenager has been arrested after two men suffered minor injuries when a car was driven through a band parade in Co Down.

A 16-year-old has been arrested over a number of alleged driving offences and suspected common assault.

Police said a black Seat Leon failed to stop for officers and drove into the parade in the Newry Street area of Rathfriland.

The incident was reported to police at around 8.40pm on Friday.

Video of the incident shows the car driving towards the group before it mounts the footpath.

People can be heard shouting at the car to stop but it left the area at speed.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon district chief inspector Barney O’Connor said: “Last night, a black Seat Leon failed to stop, a number of times, for police who were on duty in connection with a band parade in Rathfriland.

“This vehicle then drove into the parade as it made its way up Newry Street.

“One man aged in his 40s and one man aged in his 30s received minor injuries following the incident.

“The male has been arrested on suspicion of six counts of dangerous driving, six counts for failing to stop for police, aggravated taking and driving away, disqualified driving, no insurance and three counts of failing to stop and report and remain at an injury road traffic collision.

“He was also arrested on suspicion of two counts of common assault and other related offences. He remains in police custody at this time.

‘Utterly reckless’

“At this stage, we are not investigating a sectarian hate crime motive in relation to this incident.

“Our officers are continuing to robustly investigate the circumstances of this incident.

“Officers have already spoken to a number of those present and I know this has been alarming for all those involved.

“I would like to thank those in the community and those involved from the band, who have already come forward, for their cooperation and assistance.”

Alliance councillor for the area Eoin Tennyson said: “Shocking reports from Rathfriland that a car drove through two marching bands last night.

“Utterly reckless and disgraceful behaviour. Thankfully no-one was seriously injured or killed.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “There is palpable anger across the unionist community following last night’s outrageous incident in Rathfriland in which a car was driven into two bands.

“This is entirely understandable as we could very well be waking up to news of many people injured or worse.

“The shocking behaviour captured on film needs to result in a robust PSNI investigation and arrests.” – PA

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Floating assets: Static homes on water are the new des res

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Living on a narrowboat or barge might be a dream for many, but the practicalities can be daunting; filling up water tanks with a hose, having to take the boat off to pump out and running out of electricity.

But it’s now possible to buy a modern static houseboat, which is just like living in a flat on water with the advantage of a beautiful location and being cheaper than a home on dry land.

Caroline Clark, 55, bought a luxurious 45 ft by 16 ft floating home from Prestige for £230,000 and is waiting to move in next month. 

Tranquil: Caroline Clark and her dog Aggie on their Prestige floating home at Priory Marina on the Great River Ouse, just outside Bedford

Tranquil: Caroline Clark and her dog Aggie on their Prestige floating home at Priory Marina on the Great River Ouse, just outside Bedford

After she sold her bungalow in a village just outside Bedford, she put the deposit down and worked out with Prestige exactly what she wanted for her home: a study rather than a second bedroom, and a separate bathroom and walk-in wardrobe instead of an en suite.

Since April, she’s been living in the showhome at Priory Marina on the Great River Ouse, just outside Bedford, where there will eventually be 12 houseboats.

Caroline had frequently walked round the back of the marina and seen all the boats moored there and thought they seemed appealing. 

So, when idly looking for properties for sale, she saw the floating homes advertised on Rightmove and couldn’t believe it.

‘I sent the link to my parents saying I’m tempted by this, then went to see it and immediately fell in love with the whole place.

I remembered going to Amsterdam in the past and seeing the houseboats on the canal and thinking what a fantastic way of life, but never imagining that I could live like this in Bedford,’ she says.

She hadn’t thought about living on a boat before as she didn’t want all the hassle involved and the potential cold in winter.

‘But these houseboats give you all the benefit of a boat, in fact with much better views out of the French doors, as well as the luxury of central heating, sewerage and running water from the mains.

‘As I live on my own, apart from with Aggie my rescue dog, those things are important.’

Caroline says she can walk into the centre of town in 20 minutes, swim in the river and she’s bought a big Canadian kayak.

‘You start doing different activities when you live on the water. It’s very sociable here, too. So far, there are four other boats on my pontoon and the owners are all in their 50s/60s.’

But it’s not that cheap to live on.

‘You can’t get a mortgage and insurance is quite expensive as if anything goes wrong, you have to pay for salvage. 

‘I pay about £900 a year and £3,000 in annual mooring fees, which includes water and sewage,’ she says. ‘But it would take a lot to tempt me away from here. 

‘There is a lovely tranquillity about this place and you feel connected to nature. It’s like a little haven in Bedford, tucked away, and it feels magical to be part of it.’

Nine similar floating homes are also available at Sawley Marina in Nottinghamshire, priced from £179,000, prestigehomeseeker.com.

Richard Homewood, of River Pod Houseboats, has been making bespoke floating homes for more than four years. 

Based in Kent, he delivers them on a low loader lorry all over the UK and these environmentally friendly houseboats have been bought by people as young as 22 and as old as 80, who all want a slightly different way of life on the water.

‘All our boats are on mains water and plug into mains electric. Sewage can either be pumped out every six months, plumbed into mains drainage or if someone chooses to have a Klargester system installed, the dirty water is treated and sanitised before going back into a river or into a holding tank. Then it only needs to be pumped out every one to two years,’ says Richard.

A couple of these homes have been bought for use as an Airbnb.

Tara and Quentin Branson, who are commercial builders, live near Allington Lock on the River Medway, Kent.

They bought The Lady Florence, which is moored alongside their land for £100,000 and have been surprised how much interest they have had in it.

‘We’ve used it a bit, it’s so beautiful on the river and a step away from our hectic life, but it’s fully booked through August.’

And they are so pleased with their investment, they are thinking of buying another. One, two and three-bedroom River Pods start from £68,000, theriverpodcompany.co.uk.

One problem to be aware of when buying a houseboat is finding a suitable mooring, which can be difficult. So, if you can find a houseboat that already has a ‘home’, then that should really float your boat.

On the market… and on the water

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

‘They are everywhere in this area’

Voice Of EU

Published

on

We should see plenty of action in an hour, Dr John Dunbar says assuredly via email, excited at the prospect. As a venom expert, many nights are spent combing the walls and railings of Dublin housing estates for Ireland’s highly-poisonous false widow spider.

Alone in the dark, armed with extended tweezers and a headlamp, he carefully places each one inside long plastic tubes as the residents sleep inside, blissfully unaware.

On a chilly evening thousands of such spiders are scattered just out of sight along Beech Park, a long quiet suburban road in Lucan lined with detached homes and webbed hedges. The noble false widow – or steatoda nobilis – first recorded in Ireland in 1999 is far more common than most people realise and its numbers are increasing alarmingly.

Within two minutes Dr Dunbar is poking at a web string. He has spotted two long, thin protruding legs, inconspicuous to the passerby. It is the first trophy of 94 that night.

Although he has handled thousands, Dr Dunbar has never been bitten. Twenty bites have been recorded in Ireland, he declares, and the bite is one to be avoided.

Hospitalised

“In some cases [bite symptoms] are so mild they just observed it for a couple of hours and it was pretty much gone,” Dr Dunbar explains. “Then we’ve had other cases where people have been hospitalised.”

In some cases victims have experienced severe bacterial infections, debilitating pain and body tremors.

Steatoda nobilis is compared to the notorious black widow for a number of reasons including notable similarities in appearance, genetics and toxins. It is known as the “false widow” because in regions where they co-exist it can be difficult to tell them apart.

Smaller than the native house spider, chocolate brown with a large bulbous abdomen and an intricate cream pattern sometimes resembling a skull, the false widow is easy to identify.

Five or six years ago researchers would have had to look hard for one. Today, a single hunter can expect to bag between 100 and 150 in a few hours in any suburban estate.

Thought to have originated in the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and the Canaries, it arrived in the United Kingdom and Europe on banana boats. Throughout the 20th century it established thriving populations throughout England and Wales, and later colonised parts of western Europe, California, Chile and the Middle East.

Although found in Co Wicklow a little more than two decades ago, little was known about its presence here until more recently. A 2017 Royal Irish Academy study confirmed the species in at least 16 counties, but most significantly in the greater Dublin area where it is abundant in urban buildings and around street furniture.

As Dr Dunbar walks slowly from suburban home to home, he identifies and scoops up the spiders from virtually every single driveway pillar he examines. His head torch illuminates the undersides of wall ledges, shrubs, gates, guttering, the back of ESB boxes. They are everywhere. After just a short while it seems other native species are relatively difficult to come by.

“[Their urban habitats] bring them in conflict with humans,” Dr Dunbar explains. “Usually the spider accidentally gets entangled in clothing or bed sheets and when they’re unintentionally pinned or squashed the spider actually bites, purely in defence. They’re actually quite a docile species.

Potent venom

“But they do have a venom that’s a little bit more potent than what we’re used to. It’s very similar to the venom of black widows, not quite as potent, but still kind of getting there.”

The risk posed are similar to ones posed by bees and wasps. Each spider can give about half of one microlitre of venom, about one thousandth of a millilitre. On his regular hunts Dr Dunbar tells the gardaí he will be prowling. The glow from his headlamp and his intricate inspection of neighbourhood walls are common, as are encounters with neighbours.

Just as he is plucking a sample with his extended tweezers, a resident approaches with a fair idea of what is going on but curious all the same. “They are obviously everywhere in this area,” Colm Gallagher says resignedly. “I know what the implications are; they have venom and whatever else. But they’re not terribly dangerous.”

They do go inside houses, but not usually. Whether for the curious resident, the arachnophobe or the scientist, there is still a lot to learn about these creatures and a race to learn it.

“They are here to stay, there is no way we’re going to get rid of them,” he says. “But we really need to monitor them while we can over the next years and see what happens. Now science must tell us what we are dealing with,” he said.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!