Cheryl Markosky checks out Broome Hall in Surrey, where the wayward actor Oliver Reed reveled in the Sixties.
If you’re hunting down a party house, you could do worse than plump for a £1.65 million chunk of Oliver Reed’s 19th century Grade-II listed mansion.
Once home to the lively actor who couldn’t say no to a drink or two (or three), the house that looks like a film location really was a film location. It was used to shoot scenes for the Ken Russell film of DH Lawrence’s controversial Women in Love, in which Reed starred with Glenda Jackson and Alan Bates.
In the early Seventies after Reed sold the property (it also housed Canadian forces during World War Two and missionaries who turned it into a monastery), it was broken up into several wings and apartments.
It would be interesting to know if one of the fine stone fireplaces in the nine-bedroom family home spread over three floors was the backdrop for Women in Love’s infamous set piece where Reed wrestled naked with Bates in front of a log fire.
Of course, you don’t have to adopt a Reed macho ‘tough guy’ role to live in Broome Hall. Nestled between the two villages of Coldharbour and Ockley, instead of a vigorous wrestle you’re more likely to gently frequent the 17th century pub, village church and cricket pitch.
Evidence of Reed still lingers though, argues selling agent Andrew Giller from Savills Guildford. “His initials are carved into the furniture in the local pub.”
Giller also recalls the tale of an Arab flying in by helicopter to look at Broome Hall when Reed first put it on the market.
“He landed in the next door field,” he says, “and tried to climb over the fence. He tripped and became angry, so just flew off again.”
What attracted Reed to the Hall several decades ago remains the same today. “You can walk, bike and ride in thousands of acres, while you’re only 45 minutes away from London Victoria via nearby Dorking station,” Giller says.
Other pluses, particularly for townies escaping the Big Smoke, are high ceilings, a grand half-mile long driveway (thanks to the Canadian soldiers who created it during the war), and your own private garden off the drawing room.
The next owner might want to play around with the kitchen – the current eatery is a bit on the small side. Giller advises moving the kitchen to a larger reception room where you could concoct a kitchen/breakfast/family room more in keeping with 21st century living room.
A self-contained flat for guests or teenagers that insist on playing loud music is on the first floor, while the principal living rooms roam over the ground and first floor levels.
The joy of Reed’s old stomping grounds is that you can play lord of the manor when the idea takes your fancy without having to worry about the upkeep of the whole lot permanently.
“You also have your own front door – there’s no shared common entrance. And you’re not disappearing into the deepest, darkest countryside either,” according to Giller.
Yet, there’s no mention of a bar on the premises. But if you want to toast Reed’s achievements, Giller recommends The Parrot pub in the neighbouring village of Forest Green. Bottoms up, everyone.