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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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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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