Repossessed mansion under offer for £6 million less than it was originally marketed for
Formerly known as Markyate Cell and renamed Cell Park in 1984, a Grade II* listed Hertfordshire manor house which inspired the film The Wicked Lady has seen its asking price slashed to just £4.9 million. The repossessed property is now under offer for £4 million.
Comprising of a grand “stately” Elizabethan house of some 13,005 square foot over three floors, two gate lodges and some 79 acres of gardens, woodland and parkland, Cell Park’s condition has declined dramatically since it was launched to the market at a price of £10 million in 2011. It had last been sold by the widow of the late Christopher Carr QC, “one of the bar’s top earners” and whose clients numbered Mohammed Fayed, the Manoukian brothers and the BBC’s Match of the Day programme, in 2005 for £3 million.
With a main gate off the 260 mile long A5 London to Holyhead road – which follows in part the Anglo-Saxon Watling Street – Cell Park is best known for having been home to Lady Katherine Ferrers (1634 – 1660), better known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. It was from her base here that the “bored” wife of Sir Thomas Fanshawe became a highwaywoman and robbed everyone from her sister-in-law – whom she is said to have loathed – to innocent stagecoach travellers with her purported lover Ralph Chaplin. The “persistent rumour” is that she died outside Markyate Cell after being shot when a robbery went wrong. She is said to have been discovered wearing men’s clothing by her servants and allegedly haunts the house and surrounding area to this day.
Two novels, The Life and Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton (1944) and Bright Tapestry (1956), were loosely based on Lady Katherine Ferrers’ life. In 1945, when Margaret Lockwood and James Mason starred as Ferrers and Chaplin in a film based upon the story, it was a British box office hit whilst in 1983, Michael Winner remade The Wicked Lady with Faye Dunaway and Alan Bates. Winner’s version received a Razzie Award nomination for Dunaway as Worst Actress.
The conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879 – 1961) briefly took ownership of the estate in 1916 and was followed by the cotton merchant and Conservative politician Sir John Pennefather (1856 – 1933) two years later. More recently prolific property hunters David and Victoria Beckham are said to have considered buying the house, but given that it is now under offer, we have to wonder who’ll be Park Cell’s next inmates.
Agents Savills now seek best offers prior to exchange of contracts with the £4 million bidder.
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