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SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Sir Benjamin Slade’s 17-bedroom West Country pile goes on the market

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He once advertised for a younger wife to provide him with two sons. 

Having seemingly failed in his quest to sire an heir, the flamboyant bachelor baronet Sir Benjamin Slade has now put his West Country pile, Maunsel House, on the market — for an eye-watering £30 million.

The 13th-century manor house, which has 17 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, and 1,300 acres of land with eight cottages has not been entrusted to a traditional estate agent but is, instead, up for grabs on Facebook Marketplace.

At home: Sir Benjamin, 74, explains the decision to put Maunsel House on the market followed a chat with a visitor from London

At home: Sir Benjamin, 74, explains the decision to put Maunsel House on the market followed a chat with a visitor from London

Online: The 13th-century manor house, which has 17 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, and 1,300 acres of land with eight cottages has not been entrusted to a traditional estate agent but is, instead, up for grabs on Facebook Marketplace

Online: The 13th-century manor house, which has 17 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, and 1,300 acres of land with eight cottages has not been entrusted to a traditional estate agent but is, instead, up for grabs on Facebook Marketplace

Sir Benjamin, 74, explains the decision to put Maunsel House on the market followed a chat with a visitor from London.

He says: ‘Somebody came and said: “We can sell this for 20 or 30 million, no problem at all. We’ve got Arab clients, Russian clients, Chinese clients in London — they just love this sort of thing, just the house and the park.” ’ 

Sir Ben admits that he was pleasantly startled by the price-tag.

Snap it up: The listing can be seen on Facebook featuring a collage of interior snaps alongside a brief description of the property that specifies the 1,300 acres of land the property sits on can be bought separately

Snap it up: The listing can be seen on Facebook featuring a collage of interior snaps alongside a brief description of the property that specifies the 1,300 acres of land the property sits on can be bought separately 

He says: ‘Somebody came and said: “We can sell this for 20 or 30 million, no problem at all. We’ve got Arab clients, Russian clients, Chinese clients in London — they just love this sort of thing, just the house and the park” ’

He says: ‘Somebody came and said: “We can sell this for 20 or 30 million, no problem at all. We’ve got Arab clients, Russian clients, Chinese clients in London — they just love this sort of thing, just the house and the park” ’

Bargain: Sir Ben admits that he was pleasantly startled by the price-tag. ‘Pigs might fly but you never know. I did sell 100 acres last year right at the other end of the estate, through Savills, and I got about a million and a half for that’

Bargain: Sir Ben admits that he was pleasantly startled by the price-tag. ‘Pigs might fly but you never know. I did sell 100 acres last year right at the other end of the estate, through Savills, and I got about a million and a half for that’

Cheap: Maunsel is currently available for rent at £20,000-a-month. ‘I haven’t earned anything in the last 18 months as a result of Covid and lockdown and restrictions,’ he explains. ‘People were booked in to have their weddings but they got postponed’

Cheap: Maunsel is currently available for rent at £20,000-a-month. ‘I haven’t earned anything in the last 18 months as a result of Covid and lockdown and restrictions,’ he explains. ‘People were booked in to have their weddings but they got postponed’

Heirless: He once advertised for a younger wife to provide him with two sons. Having seemingly failed in his quest to sire an heir, the flamboyant bachelor has now put his pile on the market

Heirless: He once advertised for a younger wife to provide him with two sons. Having seemingly failed in his quest to sire an heir, the flamboyant bachelor has now put his pile on the market

‘Pigs might fly but you never know. I did sell 100 acres last year right at the other end of the estate, through Savills, and I got about a million and a half for that.’

Maunsel is currently available for rent at £20,000-a-month. ‘I haven’t earned anything in the last 18 months as a result of Covid and lockdown and restrictions,’ he explains. ‘People were booked in to have their weddings but they got postponed.’ 

Slade was ordered to pay £150,000 in damages in 2019 to two women forced out of their jobs because they were pregnant, but he is still fighting the case. ‘I’m not giving up. I’ve spent £53,000 on the appeal so far. We’re going to carry on.’

Welcoming: The property broker handling the sale is Murtaza Haidermota, 36, who is based in Holland Park, London. Haidermota explains that Slade was ‘very welcoming’ when he visited the Somerset estate

Welcoming: The property broker handling the sale is Murtaza Haidermota, 36, who is based in Holland Park, London. Haidermota explains that Slade was ‘very welcoming’ when he visited the Somerset estate

British buyer: There have been inquiries from Middle Eastern clients as well as some UK hoteliers. But my property mole suggests Maunsel may now become a private residence — for a British buyer

British buyer: There have been inquiries from Middle Eastern clients as well as some UK hoteliers. But my property mole suggests Maunsel may now become a private residence — for a British buyer

Flamboyant: The home is steeped in history and is filled with various artifacts. It's not clear where Slade will store these after selling the property

Flamboyant: The home is steeped in history and is filled with various artifacts. It’s not clear where Slade will store these after selling the property 

Dazzling: A light and airy drawing room is pictured on the Facebook selling page that shows the stunning amount of natural light that comes into the property

Dazzling: A light and airy drawing room is pictured on the Facebook selling page that shows the stunning amount of natural light that comes into the property 

The property broker handling the sale is Murtaza Haidermota, 36, who is based in Holland Park, London. Haidermota explains that Slade was ‘very welcoming’ when he visited the Somerset estate. ‘He showed us all over the house, the land, everything.’

There have been inquiries from Middle Eastern clients as well as some UK hoteliers.

But my property mole suggests Maunsel may now become a private residence — for a British buyer.

‘There are people who are extremely hungry for that amount of land,’ he tells me.

Striking: Earthy tones and bold colours are used throughout the period property which features original fireplaces

 Striking: Earthy tones and bold colours are used throughout the period property which features original fireplaces 

Plenty of room: Even the sweeping spiral staircase is a grand feature of the house, lined with a scarlet carpet

Plenty of room: Even the sweeping spiral staircase is a grand feature of the house, lined with a scarlet carpet 

History: Chaucer used to live at the estate while he wrote the Canterbury Tales. The chapel on the estate is where the inspiration for Chaucer's Wife of Bath was married

History: Chaucer used to live at the estate while he wrote the Canterbury Tales. The chapel on the estate is where the inspiration for Chaucer’s Wife of Bath was married

Susan Penhaligon, who made her name in the TV drama Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, returns to the West End for the first time since the 1980s in the long-running The Mousetrap. Now 71 and thrice married and divorced, Penhaligon admits, however, to having stage fright ‘nightmares’.

‘I had the actor’s dream,’ she says. ‘I was backstage, knowing I had to make an entrance, but wasn’t sure when. Woke up in a sweat, muttering lines from The Mousetrap.’

Fearless Heidi hides nothing when it comes to fashion 

Who needs a catwalk? Supermodel Heidi Klum had no difficulty turning heads when she walked down the street in LA wearing a very revealing outfit. The mother-of-four was on her way to join Simon Cowell to film America’s Got Talent, on which she is a judge.

But before the cameras even started rolling, Heidi, 47, was attracting an audience in a cropped jumper that exposed her black bralette underneath. ‘I’m always a risk-taker,’ she says of her style. ‘I like to show that in my clothes — that I’m fearless, that I don’t always care what people think.’

Who needs a catwalk? Supermodel Heidi Klum had no difficulty turning heads when she walked down the street in LA wearing a very revealing outfit

Wow: ‘I’m always a risk-taker,’ she says of her style ‘I like to show that in my clothes — that I’m fearless, that I don’t always care what people think’

Who needs a catwalk? Supermodel Heidi Klum had no difficulty turning heads when she walked down the street in LA wearing a very revealing outfit

Passion? It’s a rap for Jenny 

She may play a mild-mannered nun in Call The Midwife but Jenny Agutter’s private passions run deep.

‘I love rap,’ she says. ‘ Not violent rap, but artists like Eminem. Rap is a wonderful expressive form of poetry. I like the music of it.

‘My first experience of it was when I lived in LA, and was working with children at a school in a poor black neighbourhood. I can still remember the brilliant Romeo and Juliet rap they did. They really related to the story, especially to the gangs.’

They proved a beautiful backdrop to Prince Philip’s funeral, and now the Queen wants a gardener to look after her prized manicured lawns and shrubs at Windsor Castle. The job comes with the bonus of accommodation. ‘Joining this small team of professional gardeners, you’ll help ensure the royal gardens and surrounding areas are maintained to the highest standards,’ says the advert on the royal website. The successful candidate must have a ‘passion for horticulture’, it says, adding that the salary is ‘dependent on experience’.

I do! Danny kicks the single life into touch 

England rugby union player Danny Cipriani has put his single life to bed after marrying mental health campaigner, Victoria Rose, in a surprise ceremony yesterday.

The 33-year-old, whose exes include glamour models Kelly Brook and Katie Price, and the late TV host Caroline Flack, shared a picture of the ceremony — which, in accordance with Covid guidelines, had no more than 15 people present. Danny and Victoria, 40, who has two children and one grandchild, confirmed their relationship last June after a whirlwind romance, getting engaged in August.

‘We are looking forward to our big day Caribbean-style when travel is permitted,’ says Victoria.

‘Cheers to love, laughter, but especially to our happily ever after. Our adventure begins.’

England rugby union player Danny Cipriani has put his single life to bed after marrying mental health campaigner, Victoria Rose, in a surprise ceremony yesterday

Intimate: The ceremony was attended by close friends and family such as Victoria's son Kameron

England rugby union player Danny Cipriani has put his single life to bed after marrying mental health campaigner, Victoria Rose, in a surprise ceremony yesterday attended by close friends and family such as Victoria’s son Kameron (right) 

The Duchess of Cambridge has cause to celebrate this week as her favourite eco-fashion designer, Lavinia Brennan, has given birth to her first child. I can reveal the 33-year-old, who founded Beulah — a wardrobe staple of royals and Hollywood stars — with Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs, has welcomed a daughter, Riva.

‘Lavinia is doing amazingly, as is our little girl,’ confirms Lavinia’s husband, champagne salesman Jamie Richards. ‘Words cannot express how proud and lucky I feel right now.’

Kelly — the house guest from Hell 

Interior designer Kelly Hoppen, whose clients have included the Beckhams and Boy George, admits she’s so good at her job that friends have stopped inviting her into their homes in case she points out their flaws.

‘Automatically, when I walk into a room, I can see what’s wrong with it,’ says the former Dragons’ Den star whose preference for a neutral palette earned her the title ‘Queen of Taupe’. ‘It’s an instant thing, which is why so many people don’t invite me over for dinner.

‘But I can’t help it, it’s just the way my brain works.’

Interior designer Kelly Hoppen, whose clients have included the Beckhams and Boy George, admits she’s so good at her job that friends have stopped inviting her into their homes in case she points out their flaws

Interior designer Kelly Hoppen, whose clients have included the Beckhams and Boy George, admits she’s so good at her job that friends have stopped inviting her into their homes in case she points out their flaws

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Planning permission sought for 600 apartments on former Irish Glass site

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Planning permission for 600 apartments on the former Irish Glass Bottle site near Ringsend in Dublin has been submitted by a consortium led by developer Johnny Ronan.

The consortium, which also includes the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), Oaketree Capital Management, and Lincor Developments, is expecting construction to commence on what is the first phase of Pembroke Quarter early next year.

The site was once a symbol of Celtic Tiger hubris after receivers appointed by Nama were appointed in 2012 after its respective owners ran into financial trouble. However, the vacant plot is now earmarked to become Dublin’s newest suburb, which once completed will deliver 3,800 homes, more than one million sq ft of commercial space, and educational facilities and other community amenities.

One quarter of the units developed at the site are to be allocated to social and affordable homes.

The property has been earmarked for development for some time with a company called Becbay, which was backed by developer Bernard McNamara, property financier Derek Quinlan, and State agency the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, having acquired the holding in 2006 for €412 million in an Anglo Irish Bank-backed deal.

Consortium

Mr Ronan’s Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE), Oaktree Capital and Lincor were chosen as preferred bidders for a 80 per cent controlling stake in the former Irish Glass Bottle site last year after submitting a bid valued at in excess of €130 million. Nama has retained the remaining 20 per cent stake in the project.

Other shortlisted bidders for the controlling stake last year were: Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Group; Dallas-based private equity giant Lone Star’s Quintain Ireland housebuilding unit; and Hines, a US real estate group.“This site that, for many years, has held so much unfulfilled potential to deliver housing in Dublin is finally being brought to life,” said Rory Williams, chief executive of RGRE.

“Over the coming years Pembroke Quarter will deliver much-needed homes for more than 10,000 people in Dublin’s city centre. We understand deeply how acute the need for housing is in the city, so we are very pleased to be able to submit this planning application for the first phase of development so quickly after the purchase of the site,” he added.

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said: “We are delighted to see this superbly located Dublin Bay site move into the first phase of its development lifecycle with the submission of this first planning application for 600 residential units.”

He added that the 25 per cent allocated to social and affordable units would “provide homes to those most in need, close to the heart of Dublin”.

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New-build flats with communal work-from-home space are just the job 

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Whether it’s perching computers on ironing boards or struggling to find a peaceful corner in the chaos of a noisy family house, most of us have had to adapt our homes over the past 18 months.

But as the trend for flexible working looks set to continue, a new concept in housing is gaining traction.

Work from home (WFH) developments with a ‘hub’ shared by other residents are popping up across the country.

Modern living: Work from home developments with a 'hub' shared by other residents, which aim to retain the social aspect of office life, are popping up across the country

Modern living: Work from home developments with a ‘hub’ shared by other residents, which aim to retain the social aspect of office life, are popping up across the country

‘The hub is a way of retaining the social aspect of office life,’ says Karly Williams, director of Barratt North Thames. ‘Being close to home enables residents to manage domestic issues, while mixing with others staves off any sense of loneliness and alienation.’

At Barratt’s Linmere development in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, which is due to launch in December, the office hub will be surrounded by cafes, shops and green outdoor space.

WFH residents won’t feel they are missing out on the coffee breaks and sandwich lunches they used to enjoy as part of conventional office life. Barratt’s co-working offices and homes are priced from £101,000 to £439,500.

WFH developments can also be effective in regenerating rural areas where unemployment is a problem.

In the village of Lawrenny in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, planning permission has just been granted to a local farmer, David Lort-Phillips, to build a WFH development of 39 homes with shared offices. 

Lawrenny has been in steady decline since the 1980s and until recently looked like becoming little more than a cluster of holiday homes.

‘A village should be more than that; it should be a place to earn a living and to have a busy family life,’ says Lort-Phillips. ‘Many of the new WFH houses will be bought by people returning to Lawrenny, having been brought up here.

‘They will put back into the community, using local businesses and training up local young people.’

Prices of the new homes will range from £300,000 to £500,000 for two to four bedrooms, with management fees of £400 per annum.

One danger of building this kind of development in the countryside is that the new homes will jar architecturally with older, nearby properties. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Galion Homes builds its developments in Somerset with home-workers in mind, so all the homes have offices with superfast broadband as well as nearby hubs and cafes.

‘We won’t be ugly “tack-ons” to villages,’ says Victoria Creber, sales director at Galion. ‘We build developments of no more than 50 homes, at low density, using local stone with a big nod to the local vernacular.’

Disturbing research, based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, was published recently showing 25 per cent of WFH Londoners said they had suffered reduced well-being.

Fizzy Living, which targets its rental apartments at young professionals with an average age of 32 and earning £44,000 a year, tries to make life as stress-free as possible in its East 16 block in Canning Town. 

The scheme comprises 292 apartments, each with its own balcony. Amenities include a meeting room, residents’ lounge, games area and yoga studio.

It claims to be the most pet-friendly building in London, having a specially designed dog washroom (known as the Pawder Room) and it offers a pet-friendly furniture pack for the more delinquent cats and dogs.

‘This block works for me because I can use different spaces for different activities and this combats stress,’ says designer Asher Peruscini, 37, from San Francisco.

‘I use my desk when I’m in design mode, the balcony for more creative stuff and the meeting rooms downstairs for socialising.’ Rentals are from £1,430 pcm.

For those who appreciate the zany side of life, Quintain Living has built The Robinson, a collection of three apartment blocks at Wembley Park in North-West London, in what its describes as ‘retro kitsch’ style.

Each building has a roof terrace where there are surreal delights such as a giant orange-shaped juice bar, a 50-yard row of sun loungers — reputedly the longest in Britain — and a slide that runs down to a courtyard in the floor below.

The WFH component isn’t forgotten — high-speed wifi is found in converted campervans on the terrace.

To de-stress, there is even a rentable spa caravan with a hot tub. From £1,755 furnished; £1,670 unfurnished.

Are WFH developments here to stay?

‘I don’t think working from home will ever replace the buzz of a team of people working towards one goal in the same office,’ says Harry Downes, managing director of Fizzy Living.

‘But I do foresee people being given the freedom to work at home when they need to, reporting into the office only to be kept updated on the bigger picture. It’s a new lifestyle and this type of development caters for it.’ 

On the market… with office space 

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South Africa 17 Lions 22

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15 Stuart Hogg

Something of a flip-flop in terms of his strengths as a player as one or two misplaced passes in attack but resolute and solid in defence. A couple of glimpses of his footwork and pace but he’ll be hoping for more ball next Saturday. Rating: 6

14 Anthony Watson

He was excellent in the first half, the Lions most potent force in attack in being able to escape multiple tacklers, albeit most of the time in lifting pressure in his own 22/half. The ball didn’t run his way after the interval. Rating: 7

13 Elliot Daly

It was his first game at outside centre in Test rugby in five years and it showed. He gave away a couple of penalties, missed his trademark long-range penalty, was bested physically in the collisions and will be under pressure to retain his place. Rating: 5

Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Elton Jantjies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Elton Jantjies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

12 Robbie Henshaw

Shaded his physical duel with Damian de Allende, carried aggressively, was accurate in the tackle and scrambled well, highlighted by forcing a crucial knock-on from Lukhanyo Am. He made one fine break albeit losing possession and a couple of finger-tip knocks-on but generally good. Rating: 7

11 Duhan van der Merwe

A couple of snapshots of his power in the tackle but like Watson was never given the type of ball where he could impose his strength. He didn’t have many questions to answer in defence because Cheslin Kolbe got very little ball. Rating: 6

10 Dan Biggar

The Welsh outhalf kicked 14 points from the tee and in a general sense, one pulled place-kick aside, his kicking game was reasonably well directed. He didn’t really bring his backline into play at any stage, suffocated by the Boks’ defensive press but overall the ledger was appreciably positive. Rating: 7


The British & Irish Lions

Full coverage of all the action in South Africa READ MORE

9 Ali Price

He looked a little overwhelmed by the pace and physicality in the first 20 minutes but he gradually settled to the task. It was his excellent box-kicking after the restart that yielded opportunities for the Lions to regain possession and wrest control. Rating: 7

1 Rory Sutherland

A late call-up to the starting team due to Wyn Jones’s unavailability he was pinged twice at the scrum and the fact that his replacement Mako Vunipola made an appreciable difference when introduced could see him struggle to be in the matchday 23 next Saturday. Rating: 5

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie

Two errant lineouts, one overthrown the other crooked, were the only real blemishes on his try-scoring performance that was accompanied by a high work-rate on both sides of the ball. Rating: 6

Tadhg Furlong appeals to referee Nic Berry during the first Test. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Tadhg Furlong appeals to referee Nic Berry during the first Test. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

3 Tadhg Furlong

Loves a good celebration from the lineout maul tries, he won an important scrum penalty and was an important buffer in that set-piece when the Boks chased dominance there. He carried and tackled with typical application in a robust performance over the 67 minutes. Rating: 7

4 Maro Itoje

Deserved man-of-the-match, three turnovers in the first half alone including one within a few metres of the Lions’ line that saved a try. Immense in every facet of the game, he led by example especially in defence; intelligent and unrelenting. Rating: 9

5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt)

He was very quiet in the first half but considering the injury from which he has recovered that was to be expected. He was a key figure in the Lions’ second-half revival that included work-rate and decision-making. Rating: 7

6 Courtney Lawes

A huge performance in all aspects of the game, out of touch, carrying, making an eye-catching break that took him through three attempted tackles as a pre-cursor to one of his side’s better attacking moments. Tackled with authority. Rating: 8

7 Tom Curry

There could be no faulting his desire and work ethic but in conceding three penalties he demonstrated an impetuous streak that proved a bit of a handicap to his team in that opening half. His place will be under threat. Rating: 5

8 Jack Conan

He provided illustrations of the many qualities that he brings to a team, making one of two line breaks, defending and tackling with intelligence and carried the ball more than any other Lions player. Rating: 7

Replacements

In a collective sense they, to a man, added energy and momentum at a crucial stage. Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler gave their team a rock solid scrum, forcing a penalty there to boot. Hamish Watson was lucky to avoid a card for a dangerous tackle. Conor Murray and Owen Farrell brought control and maturity for the most part. Rating: 8

Coach

Warren Gatland deserves great credit for the team selection initially as most of the big calls that he made work out superbly. His half-time recalibration of tactics and focus worked a treat as did the timing of the replacements. He’s never been afraid to change things up and that may be reflected in a couple of changes for the second Test one of which could see Bundee Aki drafted in at 12 with Henshaw moving to 13. Rating: 8

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