Towards the end of 2015 House and Home Sitters had its first ‘celeb’ house sit at a huge Manor House estate in Kent. Owned by Hollywood celebrities, a well-known actor and film director, before commencing the actual assignment a confidentiality agreement had to be signed to protect the home-owner’s identity. What follows is a description of the manor and our house-sitting experience but of course without sharing any details which may reveal who the owners are. The photo displayed is not of the actual manor house. We take client privacy very seriously at House and Home Sitters but naturally are also excited to share just how wonderful the home was!
The historical 10 bedroom, 7 bathroom, 4 reception room Manor House was lovingly restored with no expense spared. Used only one to three months per year by the owners as their ‘UK vacation pad’, the estate is managed by a full time husband and wife team, respectively as manager/gardener-in-charge and housekeeper/chef. In addition there are two gardeners employed daily to tend to the huge manicured gardens, rolling lawns, and estate ‘forest’. Apart from never-ending banks of rhododendrons, dahlias and numerous other beautiful blooms, there are rose gardens, plus an organic vegetable garden producing sweetcorn, onions of all different varieties, beetroot, kale, broccoli, pumpkin and squash, and many others. Of course, there was also a hothouse growing different kinds of tomatoes, and huge conservatory with gooseberries, strawberries, salad tomatoes, chillies, red and green peppers and some exotic oriental fruits such as satsumas. The apple orchard was laden with many types of apples ready to pick and eat, bake or preserve.
Definitely bearing mention would be the magnificent trees on the estate, some of which must be around 150–200 years in age, from many unusual varieties of conifer to oaks and plane trees. Most interesting perhaps were the two foxes which lay in the sun on the open patch of grass adjacent to the forest behind the home, onto which the kitchen looked. Speaking of the kitchen, the £16,000 Aga gas-powered stove burns 24/7/365 with its cooking plates and four ovens always at the ready. Place a full 3 litre kettle on this, and have boiling water in under two minutes. The pantry was well stocked with rows of preserved fruits, bottles of honey from the estate hives, smoked meats and fish, and below the living quarters were the four basement cellars, two of which were wine cellars containing a wide selection of red wines, port, sherries and liqueurs from around the world.
We completed the house sit without any hiccups and received positive feedback from the homeowners. Whilst we regularly get to look after beautiful homes in the UK it must be said that this particular assignment was truly special. It was interesting to see how the ‘other half’ lives and having established our credentials for respecting the privacy of our homeowner clients, we certainly look forward to more such housesitting assignments in the future.