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OPULENCE & SPLENDOUR

Luxury and the arts From houses to cars and from Hockney to van Dyck, a profile of the best and the worst

The Wicked Lady

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.

 

Cell Park, Dunstable Road, Markyate, AL3 8QH
Cell Park, Dunstable Road, Markyate, AL3 8QH
As recently as 2012 and priced at £8.5 million through Lumley Estates, this photograph provides illustration of how quickly the property's condition has declined
As recently as 2012 and priced at £8.5 million through Lumley Estates, this photograph provides illustration of how quickly the property’s condition has declined

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.

 

The parkland setting of Cell Park was stunning in this 2008 image. Since being repossessed, it has declined somewhat due to lack of maintenance
The parkland setting of Cell Park was stunning in this 2008 image. Since being repossessed, it has declined somewhat due to lack of maintenance
It is now in need of some attention
It is now in need of some attention
The main entrance to the Cell Park estate off the A5
The main entrance to the Cell Park estate off the A5
The drawing room's furnishings would not look out of place on the Fox show "Meet The Russians"
The drawing room’s furnishings would not look out of place on the Fox show “Meet The Russians”
Equally, the decoration of the dining room looks like something one might find in an Arab embassy
Equally, the decoration of the dining room looks like something one might find in an Arab embassy
A former reception room has been turned into a large breakfast kitchen
A former reception room has been turned into a large breakfast kitchen that would appeal to a footballer’s wife
An original Jacobean staircase is impressive still however
An original Jacobean staircase is impressive still however
The house comes with two secondary cottages, North Lodge and South Lodge
The house comes with two secondary cottages, North Lodge and South Lodge

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.

 

Notorious highwaywoman Lady Katherine Ferrers
Notorious highwaywoman Lady Katherine Ferrers

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.

 

Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt, CH
Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt, CH

 

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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The ground floor of Cell Park centres around a courtyard
The ground floor of Cell Park centres around a courtyard
10 bedrooms and staff accommodation are provided on the first and second floors
10 bedrooms and staff accommodation are provided on the first and second floors

Comments

8 comments on “The Wicked Lady”

    1. It was a Mr Patel I know because a friend lived in North Llodge and Mr Patel still owes him his deposit back as he disappeared before he could be asked for it giving his tenement NO NOTICE whatsoever till the Bailiffs called he was UN aware of the situation!

    1. Me too. Didn’t find anything on the most recent owners from whom it was repossessed. Will be interesting to find out who they were.

      The interior is truly vile but it could easily be put right with someone as talented as you behind a plan, Ben.

  1. It doesn’t look like that no more needs £6m too put all the damp and gardens right such a shame too let it get like that state.

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