If you were in any doubt about how well comedy pays, Steve Coogan’s sprawling new home in East Sussex should set the record straight. The man behind Alan Partridge paid £2.45 million for the eight-bedroom manor house in Ovingdean, just outside of Brighton.
Called Ovingdean Grange, the 16th-century Tudor pile is one of the oldest properties in East Sussex and so steeped in history it comes with its own Wikipedia entry – as well as a billiard room, cinema room, walled gardens and two-thirds of an acre of land.
Pre-Coogan, the house had another famous inhabitant: the Victorian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth, who wrote a book in the late 18th-century and named it after the property. Ainsworth documented how the future King Charles II hid from Cromwell’s forces in the chimney-breast of the master bedroom – although this hasn’t been corroborated yet by historians.
Coogan – who has recently endeared himself to the British public by demolishing the former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan on Newsnight – is not moving far from his old home where he had lived for ten years: a six-bed Regency townhouse in Wilbury Road, Hove, with swimming pool in the garden, close to Chris Eubank’s home and not far from his friends Zoe Ball and Norman Cook. Coogan lived at this address for ten years before moving – including a 16-month spell with his now ex-wife, Caroline Hickman.
He has previously owned a flat in Notting Hill and shared a house in Belsize Park with his first partner, solicitor, Anna Cole – who moved down to Brighton with their daughter, which is why Coogan is Brighton based.
He has been quick off the mark to get to know his new neighbours, inviting members of an Ovingdean amateur dramatics group to his home for a few drinks after their open-air play in the local village. It was a fitting setting: the play was a dramatisation of Ainsworth’s Ovingdean Grange. It is quite possible that within the play’s audience will be Julie Cowell – who also lives in the village – whose son is none other than Simon.