Classic Comedy
To the Manor Born

To the Manor Born

Audrey fforbes-Hamilton is a woman of some means and no small reputation. When her husband dies she is horrified to discover that she is bankrupt and must sell her beloved Grantleigh Manor to Richard DeVere, a London businessman and Managing Director of a major supermarket chain.

The Lord giveth...
Her "reduced circumstances" find her moving into the Manor's lodge, where she can keep an eye on DeVere's activities at the Manor while she schemes to reclaim her ancestral home.

Sleeper hit
The idea for the programme was created in 1968, for a projected radio series to feature Penelope Keith and Bernard Braden. Although it was recorded, the show never aired and it was only after the novelisation that it finally arrived on TV. To the Manor Born struck a chord with viewers and the series attracted a huge audience. The final episode was seen by almost 24 million, almost the biggest-ever audience for a single programme on British TV. It was beaten in 1996 by, you guessed it, Only Fools and Horses!

High-class cast
As with most cherished British comedies, the success of To the Manor Born lies in part with the magnificent cast. Penelope Keith, who has become a bit of a posh TV icon thanks to her role as Margot Leadbetter in The Good Life, carries all the airs and graces of the landed gentry, but reveales a more human, sensitive side in her role as Audrey. She is ably matched by professional bounder and cad Peter Bowles as DeVere as well as Angela Thorne as her faithful friend Marjory Frobisher.

Setting the scene
The location for the fictional Grantleigh Manor is actually Cricket St Thomas, a Grade II listed manor house located between Chard and Crewkerne in Somerset. Its estate is also a wildlife park. The manor has been turned into a hotel that caters just for adults. Now you can live the dream and actually stay there!

Not close enough for you?
You can also stay in the lodge used as Penelope Keith's home in the series. West Lodge is located on the edge of the Cricket St Thomas Estate, which covers more than 1,000 acres. The property has a small garden surrounding the house and a large private area of grass on the other side of the Estate drive. Apparently the Lodge makes an ideal place from which to explore the Grantleigh countryside.

Upstanding member of the community
In 2002, Penelope Keith was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey. She is only the third woman to have ever been honoured with this office since it was created more than 1,000 years ago. It is mainly a ceremonial position, but her duties include the enforcement of civil writs and collection of debts. She is also the returning officer for Parliamentary constituencies in the county, and may declare the result. Audrey would be proud.
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