Television’s first celebrity chef made her mark on this stunning property in the sprawling Hertfordshire countryside
Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey, better known as eccentric chef Fanny Cradock, first came to attention in the dowdy post-war years of the 1950s, championing the aspiring housewife and her rather exotic approach to cooking.
Fanny brought glamour and eccentricity to her cooking shows, paving the way for the TV chefs of today. Her former home, the Grade II listed Dower House, is an expansive Georgian property with a colourful history.
The Cradocks bought the house in the 1960s and installed an incredible nine gas cookers in the kitchen. We can just imagine her shimmying around in her chiffon ball gown, while whisking an egg and cracking open a bottle of wine.
Sadly, their days as television A-listers diminished as their relationship with the BBC soured and they had to sell up a few years later. As the Cradocks’ time in the spotlight waned, Fanny’s final years were spent living a cash-strapped existence until her death in 1994.
Her connection with Dower House, on the Grove estate in Hertfordshire, certainly adds appeal to the already impressive, six-bedroom property. With easy access to the M25, it occupies a sought-after secluded position on more than two acres of land.
However, the current owner of the property, David Cowham, admits to not being a big fan of television cookery shows, but mercifully he has heard of Fanny Cradock.
‘When I bought the house, the fact that the kitchen had featured in famous television shows was quite intriguing. Many things in the property have changed since her day, of course, but the kitchen still has a traditional feel.’
Her early recipes highlighted a love for vegetable-dyes and wacky concoctions, including purple-piped potato and baked hedgehog.
Fanny’s off-the-wall shows helped lift British sprirts in the post-war era and gave women a source of inspiration.
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Love her or hate her, Fanny spawned a generation of food-lovers and paved the way for the kitchen tyrant chefs so familiar on our screens today. Not bad for a 1950s housewife!
Think we’ll pass on the baked hedgehog, though, thanks Fanny.
The Dower House is for sale through Knight Frank for £4.95 million (01494 675368; knightfrank.co.uk).
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