Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver leads an extraordinary life. The Essex-born cheeky chappie’s talent for simplifying the process of cooking healthy food (his dozens of books include Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals) has won him legions of fans. Thanks to his success over the course of more than two decades, he’s now the proud owner of a £6 million Elizabethan manor house. Spains Hall crowns a 70-acre estate in the county of his birth.
Watched by Millions and Honoured by the Queen
Jamie Oliver enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame presenting TV cookery programmes in the late 1990s. In 2003, the Queen honoured him with an MBE in recognition of his influence on British cuisine. (Surely it won’t be long now before he receives a knighthood too and can assume the elite title Sir.)
Oliver’s publisher, Penguin, proudly asserts that he’s ‘the top-selling non-fiction author in UK history’ and has sold in excess of 46 million books worldwide. His TV shows have been watched by 67 million people. He’s believed to be worth $400 million/£318 million, making him the world’s second-richest chef.
Quiet Family Life at Historic Spains Hall
There’s certainly a lot to digest – Jamie Oliver must work extremely hard and have boundless energy. (Self-improvement magazine Collective Hub describes him as ‘bursting with life’.) But away from the spotlight the 46-year-old chef is a devoted family man. He married childhood sweetheart Jools in 2000, and they have five children.
Having swapped their glamorous London lifestyle for a peaceful – though still luxurious – existence at Spains Hall in 2019, Mr and Mrs Oliver now have the pleasure of living like a Lord and Lady of the Manor. Their home boasts a wine cellar, games room and swimming pool, not to mention a spacious kitchen. No wonder the estate has featured on Jamie Oliver’s TV shows and captured Hello! Magazine’s attention.
The Olivers have been making improvements to their Grade I listed property (which wouldn’t look out of place alongside the National Trust’s English country houses), such as adding extra bedrooms. Forthcoming changes include installing intruder-proof security gates. An Englishman’s home is his castle, and Jamie Oliver understandably wants to keep his as safe as possible.
Spains Hall’s Long and Noble History
Whereas property guru Sarah Beeny built her own manor house (and enjoyed decorating it with Lord and Lady of the Manor busts!), Jamie Oliver chose one that’s drenched in history. Although his presence at Spains Hall has raised its profile, the manor house was making headlines prior to the chef’s arrival, thanks to its illustrious past. Spains Hall appears on the National Heritage List for England, making it one of the country’s most significant historic buildings.
The mansion dates back to the late 16th century (think wood panelling, period beams and tapestries), though the estate itself is much older – it’s mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. At that time, it belonged to a wealthy landowner, Hervey de Ispania, whose surname ultimately inspired the name Spains Hall. The estate passed to the Kempes following an advantageous marriage in the early 1400s. The Ruggles-Brise family took over in the mid-1700s after the Kempe line died out; Spains Hall remained their home for more than 250 years before Jamie Oliver bought it.
A notable figure associated with the manor house in recent years is Colonel Sir John Ruggles-Brise (1908-2007), who served as Lord Lieutenant of Essex. In other words, he was a regional representative of the Queen. His obituary in the local press called him ‘a true gentleman’ who ‘took great care to preserve [Spains Hall’s] past and future’.
Jamie Oliver clearly has big shoes to fill, but we’re confident the property will continue to flourish. Before he bought it, Ideal Home magazine praised Spains Hall, but also said it felt ‘more like a tourist attraction than a home’. Now, thanks to a famous, family-orientated chef, homeliness is firmly at the heart of this historic manor house.
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