Home Sweet Home
How Meghan and Harry Found Their New Secret Love Nest
Meghan and Harry are renting a hideaway deep in the Cotswolds, handily near the super-fashionable Soho Farmhouse. Welcome to the all-new royal court.
In fact, she was outside walking in the fresh air every day in the grounds of an exclusive private estate in Oxfordshire, called Great Tew, where she and Harry have signed a lease on a new, secret love nest. The Daily Beast was told the lease was for five years but other outlets have claimed it is a two-year arrangement.
Reports about the property have been surfacing all week—one report in the Daily Express even detailed how a local police force have now requested extra cash to cover the cost of securing and guarding their new home.
The absolute privacy that Meghan is now able to enjoy at the 18th century “Round House,” as the four-bedroom home is known locally, tucked away down a private driveway off a lightly used lane in the sheltering embrace of the walled private estate, is a key reason why she, in particular, fell in love with it, sources tell The Daily Beast.
“She loves the Cotswolds,” a source said, referring to the hilly region’s name, “And the house itself is absolutely private. No one can get near it. The fact they have been able to take it for five years means they can justify doing a lot of work to the place.”
Indeed, locals say, the builders have scarcely drawn breath since Harry and Meghan signed on the dotted line.
But another key attraction of the new house is that it is just a short drive from the new ground zero of the young royal set—Soho Farmhouse, the country club offshoot of the private members club founded by Nick Jones, a close friend of the couple who attended their wedding.
Indeed, the land the club is built on was sold to Jones by the billionaire owner of the 4,000-acre Great Tew estate, Nicholas Johnston, who used the proceeds towards the purchase of a small and famously picturesque seaside village in Devon called Bantham.
“There aren’t many places deep in the English countryside where you can get a good latte, a yoga class and a five star meal,” says the source, “So you can see why Meghan was keen.”
It may only be a five-year rental at the moment, but all the signs are that the couple are planning on making the house, which is also just a few miles from the U.K. base of their friends the Beckhams, a semi-permanent base.
Sources tell The Daily Beast that extensive building work has been carried out on the property to make it fit for a Princess.
For Harry and Meghan, Great Tew and Soho Farmhouse will make an extremely convenient—and very alternative—country court, and one where the entertaining can be conveniently outsourced to Soho House.
Five years ago, few people outside of the local area had heard of Great Tew, a tiny picturesque village with a traditional pub and a few houses, almost all of which are entirely owned by the ruling Johnston family.
But since the opening of Soho Farmhouse, Great Tew has cemented its position as the most fashionable village in England.
A steady stream of celebrities and creative professionals have relocated to the village and its environs—villages which rejoice in names such as Wigginton and “the Rollrights”—since the opening of the club which has two excellent restaurants, a swimming pool, and dozens of cabanas linked by a network of paved roads that can be rented by the night.
David Beckham and Victoria live close to the club’s front entrance and are regulars there when they are in the U.K., and Victoria and Meghan have become close friends, sources say.
Other local celebrities living in the area who might come up on the couple's radar include Jeremy Clarkson, the bass guitarist of British band Blur Alex James and the Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart—although the latter is no fan of Soho Farmhouse and objected to the noise caused by a clay pigeon shooting range there.
While Saturday nights at Farmhouse have, some locals sniff, become a little bridge and tunnel, during the week it hosts a steady stream of recognizable faces from the TV, music and visual arts industries using it as an upscale flexi-office.
Prince Harry’s set are established fans of the Farmhouse, as locals call it, and have been spotted dining and partying there on numerous occasions.
According to a report in the Sun, on one occasion that he visited, he and his friends, “stayed up until 2.30am and were causing quite a racket but no one had the guts to tell them to keep the noise down as it was Prince Harry. One of the girls had a flamboyant multi-colored fake fur coat which Harry nabbed and strutted around in. Everyone was having a whale of a time.”
It was widely reported that Meghan had her hen party there, and she has been seen taking Pilates lessons at Soho House. She also reportedly held a wedding list at the Soho House online store.
The fact that Harry and Meghan have taken the property in Great Tew represents another very clear way in which the young couple are ringing the changes at the palace.
It feels deeply appropriate that rather than accepting a house on the rather dreary Sandringham Estate—they would almost certainly have been offered that option by the queen, who adores Harry and would love to see more of him—where they would be surrounded by the “turnip toffs” as the Norfolk landowners who form the heart of William and Kate’s social circle are known, Harry and Meghan have chosen to rent in an area where society and celebrity cross fertilize.
Despite its immense popularity, the Farmhouse has represented an enormous investment for Soho House, and has struggled to break even since it was launched officially in the summer of 2015.
In documents filed with West Oxfordshire council last year, the Soho House Group said the site incurred a loss of £5.34 million, after depreciation, in its first year, according to a report in the Mail.
However, the group has registered plans to expand the amount of accommodation it offers at the site—and its designation as Harry and Meghan’s informal country court is an important statement of the newest royal couple's intentions to do things differently.