Avon Carrow, in Warwickshire, England, was originally built in 1896 as a hunting lodge — which is, of course, a house where people gathered in order to hunt. Now Grade II listed, the historic house has been touched by more than its fair share of scandal over the years, including the infamous Profumo Affair. (A bit more on that in a minute.) The house was divided into flats in 1983, and the unit known as the Tower — arguably the best part! — is on the market for “offers over” $1.476 million. It’s listed with Nick Rudge at Savills. And yes, when they say “offers over,” they really do mean only offers over the guide price will be considered.
The house is grand, imposing and oozing with character, including an enormous oak door, mosaic tile flooring, oak-paneled walls, and Arts and Crafts-style painted- and leaded-glass windows. The Tower, with its crenellated parapets, spans about 2,900 square feet, with two reception rooms, four bedrooms, and two bathrooms. There’s garaging for one car, and the communal gardens, which stretch over about seven acres, include a tennis court.
Avon Carrow was built as a hunting lodge by Captain Cecil William Boyle, but his wife liked it so much it soon became their main residence. Captain Boyle was killed just four years later, in 1900, in the Boer War, and then, after World War I, the house was occupied by Captain Owen Peel and his wife Violet. They became infamous in 1922 when they forged racing telegrams in an attempt to defraud bookies. He went to jail; she was acquitted.
In 1926, the house was sold to Albert, 4th Baron Profumo, an English barrister, whose son John Dennis Profumo, 5th Baron, was the center of one of the biggest British political scandals of the 20th century. The Profumos owned the house until the late 1960s.
In 1963, British society and politics were rocked by what’s come to be called the Profumo affair, in which the extramarital liaison between John Profumo, Secretary of State for War in Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government, and 19-year-old “model” Christine Keeler was exposed. Profumo initially denied the affair in the House of Commons, but eventually, as it does, the truth came out.
Keeler was also “friends” with a high-ranking Soviet government official, whom she met at parties given by the louche Dr. Stephen Ward. Turns out, England’s Secretary of State for War and a top Soviet official both had the same girlfriend! Can you say security risk? As the scandal continued, Ward was arrested for “living off the immoral earnings” (in other words, being a pimp) of both Keeler and her friend Mandy Rice-Davies.
Dr. Stephen Ward, Christine Keeler, right, Mandy Rice-Davies, left, and Paula Hamilton-Marshall
Profumo resigned. Ward killed himself during the end of his trial. Keeler served four months for perjury committed during the trial. And the debacle is considered to have contributed to the Conservative government’s defeat by the Labour Party in 1964. Indeed, movies, TV series, and even an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical have been made about the case.