When he ‘retired’ from his role at Westminster Abbey last year, national treasure Sir Roy Strong looked forward to spending more time at his beloved jewel-box house in Herefordshire, The Laskett, which boasts one of England’s most glorious gardens.
Now, however, I can disclose that the best-selling historian has been forced to leave The Laskett after suffering a fall.
He has handed it over to a charity, which will open the house to the public. Most of his treasure trove of antiques will be sold in what will be a spectacular auction at Christie’s next March.
‘I had a very bad fall on my thigh last year, and my driving licence was suspended,’ Sir Roy tells me.
When he ‘retired’ from his role at Westminster Abbey last year, national treasure Sir Roy Strong looked forward to spending more time at his beloved jewel-box house in Herefordshire, The Laskett, which boasts one of England’s most glorious gardens
‘And I can tell you that living in the country and being unable to get in your car is very isolating. Also the house has 23 rooms and three staircases — it’s a bit too much.’
The working-class former grammar-school boy, who first hit the headlines in the Swinging Sixties as the democratising director of the National Portrait Gallery, where he proposed serving ‘martinis with the Bellinis’, is downsizing to a much smaller house in nearby Ledbury.
‘I don’t want to do another garden,’ says Sir Roy, who laid The Laskett’s out with his late wife, stage designer Julia Trevelyan Oman.
‘I’ve spent half a century on this one.’ The legendary dandy, who is also a former boss of the Victoria & Albert Museum, has generously donated The Laskett to Perennial, the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society.
Now, however, I can disclose that the best-selling historian has been forced to leave The Laskett after suffering a fall
He had offered the estate to the National Trust, but it turned it down in 2014.
He accuses its then director-general, Dame Helen Ghosh, of wanting to take the house but not the garden.
His spirit will live on at The Laskett, however. ‘The garden is a monument to mine and Julia’s marriage and it’s been agreed that my ashes will be mingled with hers in the garden.’
Why Cat will never fix her wonky nose
TV presenter Cat Deeley, who has moved back to London after living in LA for 14 years, won’t be missing Hollywood’s obsession with looks.
‘When I went over, there were people saying, “Oh, she should get her nose straightened”, but I never let it bother me,’ says Cat, 43, who is renting a flat in Primrose Hill with her husband, Patrick Kielty, and two sons.
TV presenter Cat Deeley, who has moved back to London after living in LA for 14 years, won’t be missing Hollywood’s obsession with looks
‘My nose has always been to the left. My dad used to take the Mickey out of it, and it’s fine. If you only fell in love with a perfect person, we’d all only want to marry George Clooney and Cindy Crawford.’
Rarely off our screens, Michael Sheen is known as one of the hardest-working men in showbusiness. But he claims it’s a misunderstanding.
‘People assume I like to be doing things,’ he says. ‘I don’t. I hate being busy. I like to lie and watch TV all the time. If left to my own devices, I would do literally nothing.’
Tim Henman’s uncle, the much-loved horse race trainer and sporting all-rounder Tim Billington, has died aged 75, after suffering from coronavirus earlier this year. Billington, a county tennis player, was a close friend of the Duchess of Cambridge’s family, his neighbours in Berkshire.
He even advised Kate on what surface tennis court she and Prince William should have laid at Anmer Hall. Kate’s mother, Carole Middleton, was a member of one of his racing syndicates which stood her in good stead when she first accompanied the Queen in the carriage procession at Royal Ascot.
Newly single Sienna swaps Big Apple for sisterly TLC
Unlucky-in-love Sienna Miller has returned to Blighty after splitting from toyboy fiance, Lucas Zwirner.
The Hollywood star, 38, has left the New York home she shared with the 29-year-old literary editor to be consoled by her older sister in London.
Wedding dress designer Savannah, who split from her husband, Nick Skinner, earlier this year, lifted her sister’s spirits with brunch at Sienna’s favourite Notting Hill cafe, Granger & Co.
The Hollywood star, 38, has left the New York home she shared with the 29-year-old literary editor to be consoled by her older sister in London (Pictured: Savannah and Sienna Miller in New York, May 2018)
‘Seeing family and being back in London is exactly what Sienna needs right now,’ says a friend. ‘They’ve always been there for each other — Savannah is her rock.’
Despite being the author of three critically acclaimed titles, Hannah Rothschild is still plagued with self-doubt. Lord Rothschild’s daughter has shared an image of the manuscript for her as-yet-untitled new book with ‘Sh***y first draft’ printed on the cover.
‘I don’t dare re-read it yet,’ says Hannah. ‘I know it’s rubbish . . .I take some comfort that this is book No 4 and I have felt as despairing the last three times.’
BEauforT Hunt reins in BOozing
Tally-ho! Members of the Beaufort Hunt have been given strict instructions about how to comply with Covid rules.
Before hounds met for the opening day’s hunting last weekend, I am told members received a code of conduct from the Hunt Committee to minimise health risks.
‘Mounted followers are ordered to refrain from sharing hip flasks, usually filled with port and brandy, with fellow riders,’ enjoins the missive. ‘Traditional lawn meets, where glasses of port and sausage rolls are on offer, are off the menu.’
Other rules include the stricture that ‘riders must socially distance when the field is checked such as passing through gates, queuing at a narrow jump or when hunting in confined spaces like woodland rides’.
Liz falls for a new handsome chap…
Having complained that lockdown was getting in the way of her meeting someone special and ‘falling madly in love’, actress Elizabeth Hurley has nevertheless managed to find a charming new male companion.
Having complained that lockdown was getting in the way of her meeting someone special and ‘falling madly in love’, actress Elizabeth Hurley has nevertheless managed to find a charming new male companion
The 55-year-old reveals she has acquired a new young black labrador. ‘Puppy love,’ she captions this picture of herself online cuddling the pooch. Referring to his name, she adds: ‘New baby Shivraj’ — a moniker of Hindu origin which means ‘handsome giver of pleasure’.
Family ties were put to the test when Jude Law’s ex-wife, Sadie Frost, and their 23-year-old model son, Rafferty, lived under the same roof during lockdown.
‘I think me and Raf are quite alike. We’re both quite emotional, we both have ADHD, and we both have a lot of energy ,’ says Sadie. ‘And I think, if anything, we can really bond with that. So we just have always had a very close intense relationship in a good way.’