So, it turns out there’s a Hollywood mansion on my doorstep and I didn’t even know it! On a recent late-night real estate browsing session, I came across this gem which has just sold having been on the market for the first time in 20 years. It looks like something straight out of Slim Aarons photo shoot, only without the crowd of fashionable retro rich summer pool party guests sashaying around in their technicolour Riviera-style fashions of the era. Sigh.
It’s not in California, but an upmarket seaside enclave called Roedean just a few minutes east of Brighton along the coast. It does have Hollywood connections though, having been built in the 1950s by an American movie director called Monty Morton and his British wife, Fay. The story goes that she was so taken by an Italian-style villa in Los Angeles belonging to their friend actress Shirley MacLaine at the height of her fame, they decided to copy it by building their own version here in Brighton. Let’s go for a snoop around…
Starting at the front, there’s a landscaped garden complete with sweeping lawn and pretty stone pond filled with coy carp, and a grand drive way leading to a double garage and plenty of parking for all those party guests.
Inside, there’s a cloakroom, an office, five bedrooms including the master bedroom with private dressing room and bathroom, a maze of reception rooms, two bathrooms and a huge kitchen with sweeping views out to sea. The decor looks like something straight out of a 1950s Hollywood movie set, from the pale colours and the elaborate furniture, to the fancy curtains. It almost feels like Shirley MacLaine will sashay in from a doorway at any moment.
The formal dining room, with its French doors overlooking the pool, seats 10 guests. There’s even a cellar with room for 1,500 bottles of wine. Imagine the dinner parties.
Outside, there’s a heated swimming pool set in a leafy walled garden facing a two-story summer house, which comes complete with entertainment area and a bar as well as a gym, changing room, shower and toilet.
But the piece de resistance? Your very own watchtower for 360-degree panoramic views across the coast and South Downs. You can see it on the left of the house. Imagine being able to dramatically announce: “I need some time alone. I’m going to the tower.”
So, that’s the end of our tour of this Hollywood mansion in Brighton – which could have been yours if you had a spare £3 million to play with.