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 March 20

by Carolina

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Dozens of celebrities have called Kent their home over the years, from movie star Orlando Bloom to Queen of the Jungle Jacqueline Jossa.

From those who grew up here to those who made the move later in life, the county is crawling with stars.

And it seems many of them are flocking to some of Kent’s more isolated villages as they look for some peace and quiet.

Three villages in nestled in the Ashford countryside are proving popular with stars, with the rural areas attracting the likes of Vic Reeves and Paul O’Grady.

All no more than half an hour away from each other, Aldington, Biddenden and Charing have become hot beds for celebrities thanks to their picturesque country settings and vibrant communities.

While some outsiders may have never heard of the trio of Ashford villages, they’ve all clearly got something special about them which attracts the big name stars.

We take a look at just what it is making these isolated spots so popular with the celebs, and which stars have called the serene villages their home.

Aldington


With only 1,200 residents in the village, you may be mistaken for thinking life in the stunning village could feel cut off.

That’s certainly not the case, there are shops, pubs, a school and a church in the area, and tennis and cricket clubs to keep locals entertained.

Aldington is also home to annual events including Points to Point and Soap Box Derby, so residents aren’t short-changed when it comes to things to do.

Of course, like the other two villages, it’s shrouded by countryside for those who enjoy going on a walk of even just taking in the views, with some nearby highlights including the Royal Military Canal and Dymchurch beach.

As for the celebrities living in the village, Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage is a long-time resident, having lived in a Georgian farmhouse in Aldington for more than 20 years.

In fact, he loves the country life so much he’s written a book about it – literally called Paul O’Grady’s Country Life, which documents his Kent countryside lifestyle with some tongue-in-cheek jokes thrown in for good measure.

After suffering three heart attacks Paul O'Grady is in the at-risk category

Paul O’Grady is a long-time Aldington resident

The much-loved TV figure wrote: “There’s a real learning curve to living in a rural community.

“I wake up some mornings and open the curtains and there’s a thick fog and it is freezing and I’ve got to get out and feed all the bloody animals and the boiler’s packed in again, the electricity’s gone, the oil man can’t get out.”

Julian Clary is another famous resident, in part thanks to Paul after being ‘led’ to the village by his countryside neighbour despite never having been to Kent before.

He once told the Telegraph: “I was led here. Five years ago I phoned Paul O’Grady and told him I was fed up and he said, ‘Well, Noël Coward’s house is for sale in the next-door village.'”

The comedian, author and presenter has lived in famous playwright Noël’s old 15th century house for more than ten years now, and it’s said to be haunted.

And it’s thought that comedian Alan Carr lives in the village too after seemingly confirming the news on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show.

He told Jonathan he’d moved to a farm with his husband, Paul Drayton and discussed his new neighbours – Paul O’Grady and Julian Clary – a bit of a giveaway there, Alan.

Biddenden

Take a look around Biddenden – the beautiful Kent village a magnet for celebrities

Full of pretty streets, Biddenden is fast becoming the stars’ worst kept secret.

It’s also famous for the Biddenden Maids, the twins carved and painted on the village’s cute sign by a local crafts man.

According to tradition, twins Elisa and Mary Chulkhurst were born in 1100 joined at the shoulders and hips and lived that way for 34 years, when one of them sadly passed away, with the second sister dying shortly afterwards.

In the present day, the village is also famous for its food – perhaps in part because one if its more famous residents is Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace, who made the move over from Whitstable a couple of years ago.

Graham Garrett runs The West House

The West House restaurant is another big factor in the village’s reputation for good food, with the eatery holding a Michelin star for 16 years.

Run by acclaimed chef Graham Garrett, who previously cooked a private dinner for the Queen and Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street, he’s managed to entice numerous big names to the quaint village for his food alone, including Cate Blanchett.

Gregg Wallace himself has become a local of the restaurant, himself living nearby in a £1 million mansion complete five bedrooms, three reception rooms, a master bedroom suite, stunning kitchen breakfast room, five acres, stables and a pond.

Gregg Wallace lives in Biddenden, near Ashford

Coldplay drummer Will Champion is also a local, while TV star Denise van Outen called Biddenden home until she moved to London to be closer to work.

Denise’s former abode went on the market for £1.4 million and dates back to the 1800s, featuring original oak beams and wooden frames.

She was another local keen on The West House, with Graham previously telling KentLive that Denise “spent a lot of time peering in through the windows, wanting to have a look inside” before she ventured in and fell in love.

Charing

Nancy Sorrell and Vic Reeves are Charing locals

Full of historic buildings, the village is still up-to-date and well-linked, with the M20 and a train line passing through, and shops, pubs, a school and a library and a school among the ameneties.

It’s most famous for the Archbishop’s Palace building, once a possession of the Archbishop of Canterbury and used as a stop between London and Canterbury, also once hosting King Henry VIII.

Its located behind a high wall just before the church, with the great hall of the palace now a barn.

Other buildings dating back as far as the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries include the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, The Market Place, Pierce House and Elizabethan Court.

Comedian, musician, actor and presenter Vic Reeves and his model wife Nancy Sorrell call the rural village home.

The pair live in a converted Georgian schoolhouse, which they transformed into a green villa.

Speaking about the house to The Independent, Nancy said: “It’s such a great location, and we got away from a place which is getting very built up – there are property developments everywhere.

“We know our neighbours but they’re not that near.

“We’ve got the scenery, everything is amazing.”

Original posted at www.kentlive.news

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