After eight years in self-imposed exile, it looks as though the Beckhams are moving back to the UK. The big clue was in Victoria Beckham’s house-hunting activities, mainly carried out in Richmond, a leafy borough in southwest London.
This elegant choice of home location for the fashion designer speaks volumes of how far VB has come since her 22-acre WAG-tastic Beckingham Palace days. She has so far looked at three properties in the area including one £10 million mock-Tudor home in genteel Petersham, where Zac Goldsmith resides. It is the same home that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie rented last summer. (In his free time Pitt liked to take photographs of the deer in nearby Richmond Park). It has seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and topiary elephants, and neighbours that once included Sandra Bullock, another Hollywood renter for a time.
It all goes to show how super-desirable Richmond has become; a place the A-Listers are choosing over flashier Mayfair or Knightsbridge, despite the noise from planes overhead. There are a number of reasons for this, according to Brendan Wynne, Richmond group director at Featherstone Leigh agency: excellent schools, proximity to the Thames, an 18-minute train journey to Waterloo and the deer-dotted park.
“It’s a lovely area to live in, where buyers get a lot more for their money than in Central London. It’s become increasingly popular among celebrities – Jerry Hall lives here, for example – as it’s private and there are huge homes.”
To be able to afford a family home here it certainly helps to have been married to Mick Jagger: large 4-5-bedroom properties now go for between £1.5 and £3 million. Buyers who are priced out are heading to Teddington, Kew, East Sheen or Twickenham, where prices for family homes can be up to 10% lower.
As Chelsea mid-fielder Frank Lampard considers a move to China one thing he will miss while at South-West China-based football club Guizhou Renhe will be his beloved and luxurious south west London home which could make him up to £4m.
While most footballers opt for Tudorbethan confections in the countryside, Lampard has been publicly splashing the cash on a huge six bedroom detached house he bought for just over £8 million in 2005 in a fashionable street not far from the Chelsea ground.
The Regency-era house, which he shares with his girlfriend TV presenter Christine Bleakley and his two daughters from a previous relationship, has been considerably remodeled in recent years so much so neighbours complained to the local council about the disturbance.
Lampard is said to have spent half a million refurbishing it and recently asked celebrity interiors expert Kelly Hoppen in to give it a contemporary feel following the renovations (pictured, below)
But if Lampard does sell up and move to Guizhou then he will pocket a fortune. An almost identical home next door is currently on the market for £11 million, some £4 million more than he paid for his and an extraordinary leap in value given Lampard’s sold for £2.9 million in 2000. The last property to sell on the street, a dozen or so doors down from Lampard’s, went for £6.3 million in 2009.
But Lampard’s street is not the most expensive locally. The former home of both Chris Evans and before that George Michael fetched £8.5 million several years ago in a neighbouring road and four years ago one of the detached houses on the same street sold for £12.5 million.
It is not unusual for vendors to offer extra items to buy on top of a property’s sale price including white goods, curtains and even carpets.
But William Heller, who has just sold his large five-bedroom detached house near Bideford in Devon for £875,000 had been offering the most surprising additional item we’ve heard of for a while – a steam railway.
For an extra £150,000 the buyer of his home Amberwynd was able to acquire a working miniature railway in the huge grounds to the rear of the property. The line is no child’s plaything and although the gauge of the rails is narrow, locomotives of up to 3.5 tonnes operate on the line pulling carriages transporting up to 80 people.
The line starts at a station to the side of the property before winding through trees in its landscaped back garden, past the signal box and out through a small wood and into a large field, which it travels around in two large ‘S’ shapes before the line ends.
Mr Heller, whose day job is being a TV cameraman, is a life-long train enthusiast who has taken his love of railways from attic model sets slowly through to his current line. On running days his trains run to strict schedules and he is joined by a station master and signalman while Mr Heller drives the trains.