Some of Britain’s best loved on-screen addresses have become as iconic as the films and television shows where we first encountered them. But when it comes to the real-life property market in 2022, how much would the homes of some of our favourite fictional characters be worth today?
Rated the greatest ever British TV sitcom in 2019, Fawlty Towers is set in the eponymous fictional hotel in the south west seaside resort of Torquay in Devon. The sitcom is based on co-creator and star John Cleese’s visit to the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay in 1970, whilst filming with the Monty Python cast nearby. His eccentric character Basil Fawlty and wife Sybil (played with aplomb by Prunella Scales) are based on the real-life hotel owners Donald and Beatrice Sinclair.
However, the sitcom was actually filmed outside the Wooburn Grange Country Club in the village of Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire, with interior shots recreated in the film studio and many external scenes shot on location throughout London and the home counties.
In 1991 Wooburn Grange suffered significant fire damage and had to be demolished. The site is now home to a private residential development of eight homes. The most recent sale of a property on the development, No. 8 Wooburn Grange, was for £950,000 back in July 2015. If you wanted to buy a property in the Wooburn Green area today, you should be able to find one for the (slightly!) more modest price of £512,000 on average, according to Rightmove.
Sadly, the inspiration for Fawlty Towers, The Gleneagles Hotel, is also no more. Having remained a successful hotel until February 2015, the site in Asheldon Road was later redeveloped into a retirement complex. Although fittingly the apartment complex has been named Sachs Lodge in honour of the late Andrew Sachs who portrayed Manuel, Fawlty Towers’ long-suffering Spanish waiter. An apartment at Sachs Lodge will set you back around £280,000 as of May 2022.
Nelson Mandela House
A council-owned flat on the 12th Floor of Nelson Mandela House in Peckham, South East London was the address of Derek and Rodney Trotter from the much-loved 80s and 90s sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
Much like Fawlty Towers, Nelson Mandela House does not exist in real life and Only Fools and Horses wasn’t actually filmed in Peckham either. The sitcom was filmed primarily in the studio and in and around Bristol when its popularity grew and filming on location in London became too difficult. For series 1-5, the Harlech Tower on Park Road East in Acton, West London stood in as the exterior for Nelson Mandela House before Whitemead House in the Ashton area of Bristol assumed the mantel from 1988 onwards.
Source: Visit Bristol
Today’s gentrified Peckham is a million miles away from the Peckham depicted in Only Fools and Horses though and it would cost you a pretty penny to buy a three-bedroom property there today. Properties cost £620,032 on average in the town according to Rightmove, with flats costing around £410,490. This is more than thirteen times the cost of a flat like the one the Trotters lived in when the show arrived on our screens in the eighties, ouch!
The original Nelson Mandela House, Harlech Tower in Acton, is scheduled to be demolished as part of a major redevelopment in 2025, although similar properties in the area will set you back anywhere from £250,000 – £350,000 currently. However, prices are likely to increase once the new Acton Gardens development is in place.
When it comes to Whitemead House in Bristol, it is still possible to purchase a property in the building for a very reasonable £190,000 – £325,000 and a similar property on Duckmoor Road sold for £135,000 in 2021. Cushty!
If it ever were to be sold, Highclere Castle in Newbury – the location for TV’s favourite period drama, Downton Abbey – would be the most expensive property on our list by a country mile.
As the country pile (see what we did there!) of the Earl of Carnarvon and his family dating back to the 17th century, it is unlikely that we will see the Grade I listed property and its one thousand acres of parkland coming onto the market any time soon.
However, if it were to be sold, valuations suggest that Highclere Castle would be worth in the region of £137 million as of December 2021, according to the property portal MoveStreets. With properties in the UK seeing a price rise year on year of 3.1% between December and 2021 and April 2022, this would suggest a current price tag of £141,247,000.
Whilst this is probably out of the price range of the vast majority of homebuyers, Downton Abbey fans can still enjoy the splendour of Highclere Castle on the big screen this year in the second film in the Downton Abbey franchise – Downton Abbey: A New Era – or visit in person via one of the pre-arranged tours or special events which happen on a regular basis: https://highclerecastleshop.co.uk/categories/admission-tickets
No.4 Privet Drive
When we first meet JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, arguably the most famous wizard in print or on screen, he lives with his rather unpleasant Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and Cousin Dudley at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey.
Whilst both 4 Privet Drive and the town of Little Whinging are fictious, the town in which they live is thought to be based on Ashford, which is located in Surrey. The Dursley’s home in the 2nd to 8th Harry Potter films was a film set at Leavesden Studio in Hertfordshire, which you can still visit today as part of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. However, 4 Privet Drive in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first film in the series, is an actual house. However, it is not located in Surrey, but just down the road in fellow home county Berkshire.
The house is located at 12 Picket Post Close in Martins Heron, Bracknell, which is twenty-five miles from London.
12 Picket Post Close still gets a number of visits from keen Harry Potter fans and its film pedigree is said to have pushed the price of the property up, and those nearby. If you wanted to buy a house in Martins Heron today it would set you back £413,385 on average (and considerably more for a detached property), whereas properties in Bracknell sell for an average of £387,871. The house itself last sold for £435,000 in 2018 and according to Yopa is thought to be worth around £502,200 today. Although some valuations have suggested an asking price as high as £556,000.
A house of a similar size in Ashford, the inspiration for Little Whinging, would cost a similar price of around £530,000. If you really wanted to live at 4 Privet Drive the address itself does exist in Bishopsworth in Bristol. The property is currently valued at a more affordable £229,000 – £344,000 although sadly it isn’t actually for sale at the moment.
Another highly rated British sitcom is the long-running Peep Show on Channel 4, which starred David Mitchell and Robert Webb as hapless flatmates Mark and Jez in noughties era Croydon. The sitcom also provided Oscar winner Olivia Coleman with one of her first TV roles as Sophie Hortensia Chapman, the object of Mark’s affection/obsession.
Much like the other entries in this list, the friends’ flat in Apollo House is a fictious address, although the show was actually filmed in Croydon initially, or West Croydon to be exact. Series 1 and 2 of the show was filmed on location at a block of flats by the name of Zodiac House, however, the owners didn’t want the flat to be used for series 3 onwards, so filming was split between a set in an old carpet warehouse in Neasden to the north west of London and the West London Film Studios in Middlesex.
If you wanted to buy a flat in Peep Show’s original setting of Zodiac House today, it would cost in the region of £220,000, around three times the price Mark would have originally paid for his flat in the early noughties. However, compared to the wider Croydon area, where the average price of properties in the last 12 months was £389,984 – with flats selling for around £270,260 – this is still pretty competitive. However, you would have to be quite the Peep Show fan to purchase a flat in Zodiac House, since it is fair to say that the building is looking a bit tired these days. If you prefer something more modern, best to hold fire, since there are plans afoot to develop both Zodiac House and the surrounding commercial area of Zodiac Court.