James Corden invites experts to study ancient stone circle on estate
James Corden and the mysterious druid’s temple in his backyard: TV star invites experts to study ancient stone circle on his £8.5M Berkshire estate
- EXCLUSIVE: Druid temple gifted to ex-owner of Corden’s £8.5M Berkshire home
- Politicians called for chat show host, 44, to return the Neolithic dolmen in 2021
- Star says he will assist Jersey heritage organisations to create a 3D virtual visit
James Corden has said he would be ‘happy to assist’ the island of Jersey to create a 3D model of the prehistoric stone circle in his garden – after residents have given up hope of returning the ancient monument to its homeland.
The Druidic temple was gifted to the once-owner of Corden’s £8.5 million Berkshire home in 1788 – and now the Channel Island wants access to the crucial part of their cultural history.
Politicians called for the chat show host, 44, to return the Neolithic dolmen in 2021, although residents are now resigned that it is not ‘viable’ for the monument to ever return to their shores.
Representatives for the star even said he would not oppose the stones being returned to Jersey – but he has no say in the matter.
Curator of Archaeology Olga Finch at Jersey Heritage said: ‘In principle, we would, of course, support the return of the Mont de la Ville dolmen – an important piece of Jersey’s ancient history – to the Island.
The Druidic temple (pictured) was gifted to the once-owner of Corden’s £8.5 million Berkshire home in 1788 – but now the Channel Island wants access to the crucial part of their cultural history
In 2021 Jersey’s government asked Corden and his wife Julia Carey (pictured) for the return of the stones, after a lobbying campaign from island residents
‘However, having looked into the possibility a couple of years ago, the expert advice we were given was that it was not a viable proposal.
‘The stones are Grade II Listed and the protection afforded to them by UK heritage bodies and legislation means that it is unlikely that permission would be granted to have them moved.
‘However, the dolmen is a significant part of the history of the land on which Fort Regent sits and there is plenty of scope to recognise this.
READ MORE: Give us our prehistoric stone circle back, James Corden!
‘We would welcome any support to enable us to explore other exciting ways to tell the story of the ancient monument as part of the rejuvenation of the Fort site, such as a 3D virtual visit to the dolmen stones on the site where it originated.’
Corden’s representatives say they have not been contacted by any heritage organisations but would be ‘happy to assist’ them.
Fort Regent, where the dolmen was originally located, is currently under review by the Government of Jersey
The 45 ancient granite stones now sitting on Corden’s 43-acre estate were removed from St Helier and given to Field Marshal Henry Seymour Conway, who shipped them to England.
As commander-in-chief of British forces and governor of Jersey, he was given the Mont de la Ville stones in thanks for erecting a series of defensive towers to prevent a French invasion.
In 2021 Jersey’s government asked Corden and his wife Julia Carey for the return of the stones, after a lobbying campaign from island residents.
The Neolithic dolmen, or Druids’ temple, that now sits in their 43-acre estate was removed from St Helier in 1788. But, unlike the sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens, the stones were freely given to Field Marshal Henry Seymour Conway, who shipped them to England
Abandoned: James Corden’s £8million property was empty for two years and looked derelict, surrounded by overgrown gardens
Deputy Kirsten Morel, the island’s culture minister, told the Jersey Evening Post: ‘This is not a situation like the Elgin Marbles because the dolmen was a gift from Jersey, so there is no argument for having it back as a matter of principle. It would be a lovely idea but there is a long way to go.’
He declined to comment about whether the States Assembly would still support the artefact’s return.
READ MORE: ‘It feels very strange’: James Corden reflects on returning to the UK after eight years in LA
As the stones are Grade II listed, it is believed Corden would have no say over what happens to them.
Mr Corden’s local council, Wokingham, would also have to grant planning permission for the removal.
The Gavin and Stacey star bid farewell to the Late Late Show last month after eight years and is set to return to the UK.
Last year, the Mail On Sunday revealed that James turned down a ‘name your price’ multi-year deal from television bosses to stay in the US, with an estimated $40M on offer.
But in turning down the offer, the star is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including wife Julia Carey and their three children; Max, Carey and Charlotte.
The property is close to other A-list celebrities, with neighbours including Orlando Bloom, Russell Brand and George and Amal Clooney, who live in nearby Sonning. It is also just 20 miles from High Wycombe, where Mr Corden grew up.
The monument, thought to be a burial chamber or religious shrine, consists of a covered passage leading to a circular unroofed chamber with a number of cists, or small coffin-like boxes around the edge.
The Gavin and Stacey star bid farewell to the Late Late Show last month after eight years and is set to return to the UK
The star is looking forward to spending more time with his family. The property is just 20 miles from High Wycombe, where Mr Corden grew up. Pictured: With sisters as a child
Such circles are widespread across Jersey and in the 18th Century were believed to have been the home of spirits and fairies. When interest in mythology later waned, many were broken up and used as building materials.
Mr Corden and Ms Carey bought their estate, near Henley-on-Thames, in 2020 after wanting more space for their family than their previous home in Belsize Park, North London, could afford.
READ MORE: James Corden finally gets permission to knock down his abandoned country mansion and build a new one for when he returns from the US
The monument featured heavily in Corden’s recent planning battle to tear down the 1960s pile near plush Henley-on-Thames – which he was awarded in January – to construct a stunning, six-bedroom mansion.
Under concerns from Historic England, a planned pool house was relocated because of its proximity to the temple under fears it would harm to its views.
Wokingham Borough Council’s Trees and Landscape Officer also reqiested that: ‘the setting and context of the proposal within this important and historical landscape be carefully considered in relation to the Druids Temple.’
Hopes for the pool house were later removed completely.
Speaking of the altered designs, they said: ‘The key significance of this part of the estate resides with the Druid’s Temple and its naturalistic setting of grassland enclosed by woodland with views of the Thames Valley.
‘The ability to see the existing dwelling and pool house buildings is currently limited from the Druid’s Temple, which is positive.
‘The parkland setting in which the Druid’s Temple is experienced forms a discrete but important part of the wider Park Place and Templecombe Estate registered parkland.
‘The temple was clearly set out as a destination within the 18th century landscape, originally with an avenue leading in its direction that ended to reveal an open area of grassland with trees framing the backdrop.
The monument featured in Corden’s planning battle to tear down the 1960s pile (pictured) near plush Henley-on-Thames – which he was awarded in January – to construct a stunning, six-bedroom mansion.
‘The megalithic structure was positioned very deliberately to take in the handsome views of the Thames Valley to the south west but within an open grassed area such that the structure itself could be appreciated.
READ MORE: Boarded up: James Corden’s £8 million home… As the star prepares to move back to the UK, the sorry plight of the mansion that was invaded by trespassers
‘The height and width of the replacement dwelling helps limit its visibility from the Druid’s Temple when combined with existing trees and vegetation. This element of the proposal is considered to have a neutral impact on the significance of relevant heritage assets.
‘The existing woodlands at Templecombe largely still reflect the historic form and the area of the Pleasure Ground around the Druid’s Temple contains an excellent collection of exotic and native specimen trees including lime, wellingtonia, pine and beech.’
Council reports said that the monument was of ‘national significance’ and ‘historic interest’.
Speaking of Corden’s new property’s design, the report continued: ‘These elements have been assimilated into a design approach which is predicated on a contemporary interpretation of the original Templecombe House which stood on this site as a design template and built 1867 yet ensuring that through a better understanding of the landscape and heritage that the proposed development assimilates and better relates to the registered park and gardens and the listed Druid’s Temple.’
The works – which will also include demolishing a pool house – will create a two-storey pad alongside a subterranean basement with a plant room and storage.
It will be ‘grander’ than the current home, with planners saying it will be 18 per cent larger overall, while the basement level will see an 11 per cent boom in footprint.
He was instructed that he had to be careful that views from the Druid’s Temple were unharmed.
The grounds are packed with history. Pictured: The original country house that was once there, in 1907
The surrounding grassland has ‘an exceptional population of slow worm’ alongside small populations of grass snakes, experts say.
There are also badgers and breeding birds, including red kites.
But the plans raised protest from the council’s trees officer, who slammed the pile as ‘unsympathetic and incongruous’ with the local area.
Just weeks before permission was given the property appeared derelict, surrounded by overgrown gardens after being empty for two years.
It was even boarded up after trespassers posted dozens of eerie pictures online as well as a video ‘tour’.
The images, believed to have been taken last year, show an empty indoor pool and a high-end retro interior covered in dirt and grime. The patio is overgrown with weeds and the electricity was said to work in only some parts of the property.
A CCTV system was installed after the footage appeared online and gates to the sprawling estate are now plastered with signs to deter intruders. One reads ‘hazardous area’ while another warns that police are using the private land for dog training.
Source: Read Full Article