Royal equestrienne Zara Phillips has confirmed that she has left her two-bedroom grace-and-favour cottage on her mother Princess Anne’s 730-acre Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire and moved into her first home in Cheltenham.
© AP/Simon Dawson
She has spent an estimated £1 million buying a Georgian-style house close to the historic Regency town centre. "Zara has bought a house, but I can’t tell you any more," sniffs her press officer. Inevitably the move away from prying eyes into her own home will lead to renewed speculation that the Queen’s feisty grand-daughter will soon announce her engagement to England rugby player Mike Tindall, her Yorkshire-born boyfriend of the past four years.
She previously spent a turbulent two years living with National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson in his Cotswolds home in Toddington before moving back to Gatcombe, where she grew up and still stables her horses.
© PA/David Jones
It’s lucky that Gordon Brown decided against spending a second bucket-and-spade family holiday in Southwold, Suffolk, this year. For paparazzo Dave Hogan has sold, for £1.5 million, Shadingfield Hall, his seven-bedroom mini-stately home, which the PM rented for two weeks last summer for £4,500 a week.
The Brown tenancy went smoothly except for one night when a deer penetrated the newly installed laser-beam security. "It sounded like Armageddon," recalls Hogie.
This year Sarah Brown persuaded her workaholic husband to join their sons John and Fraser for a fortnight’s break in the Lake District and at his constituency home in Kirkcaldy.
Graham Norton, the BBC’s highest-paid TV star after Jonathan Ross, is splurging some of his £2.5 million-a-year earnings on property. He is house-hunting for a five-bedroom Georgian or Regency home in Hastings’ Old Town for a new weekend retreat with sea views.
His budget? Up to £500,000. "Hastings is a lot cheaper than fashionable places like Whitstable and Lyme Regis and has a greater stock of period properties," he tells me. "Like Brighton it also has a thriving gay community." The Dublin-born comic, with homes in County Cork and Wapping, is already a frequent visitor to nearby St Leonards-on-Sea where he walks his dogs, Bailey and Madge, on the seafront.
TV presenter Carol McGiffin, the ex-wife of radio presenter Chris Evans, still rues the day she sold their three-bedroom house in Highgate. "It was on one of the best streets in London and had amazing views of Hampstead Heath and the City from our roof terrace," she says. "We bought it in 1993 for £325,000. I then sold it two years later, against everyone’s advice, for £375,000 after we split up. It will be worth millions now."
The feisty Loose Women co-presenter currently lives with her TV producer fiancé Mark Cassidy in a two-bedroom Kentish Town flat but also owns a larger Belsize Park flat "that I keep for friends and relatives".