The Highwell House Story Part I

The Highwell House Story Part I

From Condemned House to Home for a Hollywood Star

I first spotted Steep Park on the internet. A very far away shot of quite an ugly Edwardian house set in enormous grounds with two large piles of earth in front of it and a tree growing through the front door. It had fragments of net curtains spilling out of broken windows, a bit of roof missing and the most enormous overgrown garden.

As I can’t resist a derelict building I called the agent to see if I could view it. She said “of course, but don’t go into the building as its dangerous”. I walked up the long overgrown gravel driveway and wondered what I was in for. The house was an enormous red brick mansion in the most incredible setting.

Despite the warnings I crawled in through a front window wondering if the whole house might collapse at any moment. I have seen a lot of buildings in a state of disrepair but never anything on this scale and in this state of dereliction. Water was pouring in through the ceiling. Some ceilings had totally collapsed. Moss was growing on the walls and you could see down a great big black hole where there had been a fire. The house was spooky but really beautiful at the same time. The bare bones of the building were incredible. Old wooden floors, cornicing, a huge oak staircase. I was both terrified and smitten at the same time.

It looked like someone had been living there recently yet in a bedroom was a calendar from 1979. Bits of the house were left as if the owners had done a flit in the night. Old sofas, beds, paintings, a pair of ballet shoes, an old hoover and even clothes were scattered around. In the garden was around five enormous green houses and a large lake that could hardly be seen because of overgrown trees. I called the agent to find out the story. I was intrigued. Part 2 next week…

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