Homes gossip: Alicia Keys, Deborah Meaden, Engelbert Humperdinck, Robert Hudson

Deborah rethinks her property empire
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Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz
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Alicia gives up Manhattan for Egypt

Alicia Keys has put her Manhattan house on the market for £11.3 million. The Grammy award-winning singer and her producer husband, Swizz Beatz, are seeking a more practical family space for themselves and their 17-month-old son, Egypt.

The cool couple’s five-bedroom SoHo pad, which previously belonged to singer Lenny Kravitz, has incredible views of the New York skyline.

It also comes with a state-of-the art kitchen and large outdoor terrace. I wonder if the multi-talented Alicia will leave her grand piano for the next owners?

If you’re in an Empire State of Mind, this is the dream buy.

Deborah Meaden
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Deborah rethinks her property empire

Now that Dragons’ Den is being filmed in Manchester, Deborah Meaden is spending much more time up north. That’s why, as a good entrepreneur, she has decided to let her Primrose Hill flat and look instead for a smaller place in the leafy parts of north-west London. She and her husband would prefer a portered property, she tells me.

Her main home remains a 10-bedroom pile in Somerset. “It is a listed building once owned by William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham,” she says.

The influential businesswoman has been busy with renovation there. “The house was in total need of repair, right down to the 500-year-old beams, which were 90 per cent eaten through by death watch beetle. We removed four modern Dutch barns to create the courtyards and gardens, including a walled vegetable garden.”

Since investing £120,000 in solar panel company Ploughcroft with fellow Dragon Theo Paphitis, she has also caught the eco-bug. “I have installed solar PV and bespoke double glazing,” she says.

She is spreading the word at The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show at Birmingham’s NEC on Friday (

Engelbert Humperdinck
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Become the 151st member of the Hump fan club

Engelbert Humperdinck is back in the spotlight. Last week he proved that he’s ever the romantic with new song Love Will Set You Free — the track he hopes will bring him Eurovision Song Contest glory in Azerbaijan in May.

House in Great Glen
It makes this a special year, too, for the 150 members of his loyal UK fan club, many of whom make an annual pilgrimage to Great Glen, Leicestershire, for lunch at The Yew Tree pub to mark Engelbert’s May 2 birthday.

His mansion is nearby — and now there’s a chance to become his neighbour. A luxe lodge (left), near the Release Me singer’s house, is for sale with Strutt & Parker for £1.15 million (01858 433123; They tell me the five-bedroom country retreat combines period grace with contemporary fittings.

Spinney Cottage

Spinney Cottage offers a piece of BBC Jubilee nostalgia

News presenter Huw Edwards will be the main host of the BBC’s Diamond Jubilee weekend coverage in June. But for the Silver Jubilee in 1977, all eyes were on BBC broadcaster Robert Hudson. The celebrated journalist covered six tours by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as well as royal weddings. Now his former Hertfordshire home is on the market with Hamptons for £1.95 million (01727 890770;

Nineteenth-century Spinney Cottage (right) was once a terrace of four brick workers’ homes. It was converted into a single property in the Sixties, before Hudson moved in. The current owners have further improved and extended the place and the spacious, airy rooms make it perfect for entertaining. The local St Albans station is just a 19-minute train journey from St Pancras, so this would make an idyllic base for families seeking an easy commute to the capital.

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