Homes gossip

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson drives through a big property deal in Oxfordshire; while Master and Commander star Paul Bettany, who quit the UK for New York in the nineties, says it took him five years to cope with living away from London
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Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson drives through Oxfordshire deal

Top Gear motormouth Jeremy Clarkson and his Cotswold neighbour, Britain’s poshest estate agent the Marquess of Headfort (aka Christo Bective, once of Bective Leslie Marsh), are the unlikely duo behind the purchase of a 1,000-acre Oxfordshire estate that includes a battered farmhouse.

“I put the deal together,” burly Bective boasts. “But then I found myself in competition with Jeremy, so we got together.” However, it is Clarkson, based in Chipping Norton, who has the largest share — 650 acres — while the Old Harrovian, whose family home is in nearby Shipton-on-Cherwell, has 380 acres. The Marquess is fondly remembered for his unintended immersion in a South of France swimming pool during a brawl at his cousin Lord Brocket’s wedding three years ago.

Paul Bettany
© Getty
Paul Bettany
Master and Commander star Paul Bettany quit the UK in the Nineties to build a new career in New York. “But it took me five years to cope with living away from London,” he says. “I really hankered after it. Britishness is impossible to scrub out.”

The 6ft 3ins Shepherd’s Bush-born former busker shares two US homes with his wife, Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly, their son Stellan and his stepson Kia. They also have a Manhattan loft apartment overlooking the Hudson river and a 100-acre farm in the ski town of Stowe, Vermont, “that cost about the price of a decent detached house in Surrey”.

Body Shop co-founder Gordon Roddick is on the move. Widowed three years ago when his wife Dame Anita Roddick died, aged 64, he has left Littlehampton, where he lived throughout his 37-year marriage and settled in Selham near Midhurst.

“Gordon has had lots of building work done to his new home,” says a neighbour. “It’s an attractive house with several outbuildings and the garden is covered in daffodils. But it is surprisingly modest considering his means.”

Four years ago the Roddicks controversially sold their Body Shop empire for £652 million to multi-national L’Oreal. But Anita promised to give her £130 million share to charity.

Lucy Davis
© PA
Lucy Davis
The producers of ITV’s new romcom, Married Single Other found an easy solution where to house their cast while filming in West Yorkshire last summer. “I was really happy when I heard that we’d all be in the same apartment building in Leeds,” says Lucy Davis, who is pals with co-stars Ralf Little and Amanda Abbington.

“It’s nice to be able to say, ‘Hey, do you want a cup of tea?’ do lines or just hang out,” says the daughter of Brummie comedian Jasper Carrott who lives in Hollywood with her husband, actor and The Mentalist star Owain Yeoman. “I was there more and more but kept saying to everyone, ‘Oh no, I live in London’,” she recalls. “Then I realised that I didn’t any more.”

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