Who are you likely to see, bump into or even sit next to for a drink or a meal in the Cotswolds? Famous for quintessentially English villages with thatched cottages and honey-coloured stone, stately homes and manor houses, the Cotswolds are becoming more and more in demand as the area has become the place to go to if you are rich and famous or even Royal!
The Cotswolds attract keen walkers and it seems that actors, actresses, pop stars and princes also love being able to get far from the madding crowd and swap their well-healed lifestyles for walking boots and country living.
In my forty years of living in the Cotswolds, I have met, talked to, seen, spotted, eaten with and even shared a sauna with many famous names. The famous and infamous frequent the towns and villages of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire causing house prices to rise and giving locals something salacious to gossip about.
I have been asked several times: “Who is the most famous person you have met?” That is very easy to answer — the answer has to be HM The Queen! Although, as everyone knows, she doesn’t actually live in the Cotswolds, but has close ties with members of her family, who do live in this beautiful part of the world and has visited many times — HRH Prince Charles has his home at Highgrove near Tetbury and HRH Princess Anne has lived at Gatcombe Park near Minchinhampton for many years.
I actually met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II properly face-to-face in November 2009 when she presented me with my MBE at Windsor Castle and she reminded me then of the time she had attended the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford the year before for the 90th anniversary of the RAF.
At the end of the ceremony, the heavens opened and a Biblical downpour soaked nearly everyone. Oh yes, I got absolutely drenched and the deluge of rainwater on my red hat caused the red dye to trickle like blood down my white blazer. But, of course, Her Majesty was whisked away in her chauffeur-driven car and managed to escape without a single rain drop on her lovely coral-coloured hat and lilac coat!
The top royalty of the show-business world probably has to be the Beckhams, who moved to their Cotswold mansion near Chipping Norton a couple of years ago, stayed there throughout lockdown and — so I am told — can occasionally be seen using the facilities at Soho Farmhouse — a super duper very exclusive members only club. I have never met any of the Beckhams, but got very close to it recently when former footballer, David and his daughter, Harper Seven, visited the Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford. My daughter worked there for three years, but left just last year, otherwise she could have posed with them outside her flat in the Manor House and introduced them to some of the animals she used to look after. Ah well, I am sure it won’t be long before I do come across at least one of them at some point. After all it is a small world in the Cotswolds.
There are so many other renowned residents living, holidaying, week-ending or just visiting the Cotswolds that I could compile my own Who’s Who of the Wolds and tell a few tales, which I may well do in future blogs! They definitely fall into specific categories — singers, models, TV presenters, actors, actresses, comedians, sports personalities and artists such as writers, poets and sculptors.
Amongst the singers and rock ’n’ roll legends, we have living amongst us are Lilly Allen, Gary Barlow, Mike d’Abo (Manfred Mann), Mick Jagger, Alex James (Blur), Mark Owen and Steve Winwood. I have interesting stories to tell about four of these and all will be revealed at a later time!
Quite a few renowned residents or random visitors of the Cotswolds are actors and actresses such as: Nicholas Cage, Daniel Craig (James Bond) and his actress wife Rachel Weisz, Johnny Depp, Fiona Fullerton (former Bond girl with Roger Moore as James Bond, not Daniel Craig), Tina Hobley, Liz Hurley, Patsy Palmer (EastEnders), Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek) and Kate Winslet. I remember celebrating my daughter’s 30th birthday at the grown-up getaway, Whatley Manor, near Malmesbury and Nicholas Cage was there in the dining room having dinner! This beautiful 23 bedroom 18th century farmhouse is also a favourite of Johnny Depp, but we were not fortunate enough to see him that night. What a great birthday treat that would have been!
It seems that the ‘beautiful people’ flock to the Gloucestershire and the many willowy models that have homes here include: Rosemary Ferguson (friend of Kate Moss), Jade Jagger, Elle McPherson, Melinda Messenger and Kate Moss.
The funny men and women of the comedy world love the Cotswolds too and include: Keith Allen, Rory Bremner, Charlie and Daisy May Cooper (This Country), Dom Joly, Michael MacIntyre and Ruby Wax, but not all of them are as funny or as gracious as they are on television. One of them was extremely rude and unpleasant, whilst another is extremely talented off screen, but just a wee bit wild, raucous and crude! Can you guess which jokers I am referring to?
If you are interested in learning a little bit more about celebrity lives, I would love to share with you stories about some of them. I am not here to dish the dirt, but to describe some of the interesting, awesome and sometimes hilarious interactions I have had with many of the rich and famous. Lots to share and talk about at a later date. Keep watching www.chrisrobertsmbe.co.uk.