Country houses for sale

For Your Eyes Only: The Surrey manor where James Clavell hosted 007 (and JR Ewing)

If walls could talk, these ones would have all sorts of tales about Hollywood A-listers – including former 007 Roger Moore – thanks to its ownership by novelist and film producer James Clavell.

Grade II-listed Fredley Manor at Mickleham, near Dorking, at the northern edge of the AOnB has come to the market through Surrey agents Grantley (01483 407620) at a guide price of £4 million.

The present Fredley Manor was originally a cottage on the ancient Fredley Manor estate, which was sold many times between 1571 and 1803, when the son of the then owner, David Jenkinson, described as a ‘lottery agent’, died and the estate was sold off in three parts.

The cottage and the lands surrounding it, then known as Fredley Farm, were bought by Richard Sharp, who made his fortune as a hatter and West Indies trader in London. A man of many clubs and societies, his ready wit and social talents earned him the nickname ‘Conversation Sharp’ and the friendship of the leading literary and political lights of the day.

Fredley Manor

Fredley Manor: interior

Sharp divided his time between his Park Lane house in London and his gentrified ‘cottage home’ at Fredley, where, between 1797 and 1835 —the year he died—he entertained an eclectic mix of writers, poets, scientists, politicians and legal giants, among them Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Michael Faraday, Sir Humphrey Davey, Lord Macaulay and the unforgiving Lord Chief Justice Jeffries, to name but a few.

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In the early 1800s, Sharp, who never married, adopted Maria Kinnaird, who was born on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and orphaned by a volcanic eruption. She went on to inherit the bulk of Sharp’s property, including a fine house in London and the estate at Fredley, where she died in January 1891.

Fredley Manor

Fredley Manor: interior

Given every social, educational and cultural advantage by her adoptive father, Maria married army surveyor Thomas Drummond in 1835 and went to become a leading Society hostess, following Sharp’s tradition of entertaining the great and the good at Hyde Park Gardens and at Fredley in the years between 1843 and 1891.

The good times rolled again between 1970 and 1990, when the British novelist, film director and producer James Clavell owned Fredley Manor.

Clavell, the much-travelled author of bestsellers such as King Rat, Tai-Pan, Shogun, Noble House and Whirlwind, was a naturalised US citizen by the time he bought the house, but still spent plenty of time in the country where he grew up – and he entertained generously at his Surrey country manor.

Film and TV legends such as Roger Moore, then playing James Bond, and Larry Hagman – who was at the height of his fame as JR Ewing in Dallas – were regular visitors, as were high-powered executives from major Hollywood film studios. The story goes that they reputedly enjoyed some wild times within Fredley’s secluded grounds…

The current owners of Fredley Manor, James and Cherry Fuller, bought the house with 20 acres of gardens, paddocks and woodland in 1995. They tactfully describe its condition at the time as being ‘not bad’.

Since then, however, they have carried out a substantial renovation and extension of the house, which offers 5,464sq ft of stylish living space, including five good reception rooms, a kitchen/ breakfast room, a family room, a study, and six bedrooms on two floors (four with en-suite bathrooms).

The gardens—Mrs Fuller’s area of special interest—have been transformed from a wilderness into a wonderful landscape of large lawned areas, stone-flagged terraces, box hedging and herbaceous borders, all affording spectacular views of Box Hill.

Leisure amenities include a sheltered outdoor pool, a hard tennis court and a grass tennis court/croquet lawn.

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