Home that hosted Bright Young Things, Edward VIII and Lawrence of Arabia on sale for £995k | Property | Life & Style

The French House in the village of Lympne, Kent, was owned by bachelor MP Sir Philip Sassoon, the cousin of war poet Siegfried, in the 1920s. 

The rumour is that he extended and restored the 15th century house so it could be used as a hideaway for liaisons with his lover Bob Boothby, a parliamentary private secretary to Winston Churchill and an intimate of gangster Ronnie Kray.

Lord Boothby and Sir Philip would host lavish parties there. 

The Grade II* listed house, which is now in need of some refurbishment, sits in a spectacular secluded position next to a wildlife reserve with stunning far-reaching coastal views over Hythe Bay. 

The property, on the market with Jackson Stops & Staff, is an original Wealden Hall House – timber-framed with lots of period features. 

It was part of the Port Lympne estate which Sassoon bought and built a mansion on, completed by the end of the First World War.

He was a glamorous character in his time. His mother Aline was a Rothschild, he was an Old Etonian, member of the Bullingdon Club and apparently the first person in the UK to privately own a plane. 

He represented Hythe from 1912 until his death in 1939 and built Port Lympne as his constituency base but used it for entertaining. Sassoon was well connected both in social and political circles. His regular guests included the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Sir Winston Churchill, Lawrence of Arabia, Rex Whistler and Sir Charlie Chaplin. 

He was considered one of the greatest hosts of his time and his parties were so raucous they would later provide inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. 

Sir Philip died just before the start of the Second World War, aged 50 from complications of flu.

Sir Noël Coward called him “a phenomenon that would never recur”. 

Port Lympne Mansion is now a hotel attached to a wildlife park owned by the Aspinall Foundation. 

French House had further restoration done in 1953 and 1985. The current owner has lived there for 35 years but is now looking to downsize. 

The house, which has 4,923sq ft of accommodation, has period features such as vaulted ceilings, oak beams, mullioned windows and marble-lined shelves. 

It has a sitting room, dining room, drawing room, morning room, kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and four bathrooms. 

The property has about three acres of grounds, which include a croquet lawn and redundant tennis court. 

Dee Ryall, from Jackson Stops & Staff, said: “The property was originally a Wealden hall house, which dates to the 15th century, so it’s Grade II* listed. 

“There’s a connection with Philip Sassoon, he restored and extended the original house in 1920, reportedly as a hide away retreat for his lover Lord Boothby. 

“They entertained people like Noël Coward, as well as other nobles of the day. 

“The house is beautiful, it has lovely features like the exquisite dragon beams. 

“It needs some work now, particularly to the exteriors although it is water-tight. 

“The property sits right up on…

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