The above photo, taken a couple of days ago (May 2012), is all that’s left of the dilapidated home of an elderly recluse millionaire author, Alan Chappelow, who lived alone on Devonshire Hill.
Mr Chappelow was battered to death in June 2006 in his house, known as Manor House, by an alleged M16 chinese informant and financial trader who tried to steal his money. The Chinese man, a serial fraudster called Yam, was apparently up to his armpits in debt.
|Allan and his friends, the Sparrow Family (c) Camden News|
The house, which Chappelow had lived in for 75 years from the age of 14 and had been in his family longer than that – was, according to newspaper reports, sold for 4.1 million and is now being demolished to make way for a new villa. Mr Chappelow was an award-winning photographer and author and specialised in portraits of leading literary and theatrical figures and mansions. His brutal death, over money and greed, seems such a sad and depressing ending for someone so creative and clever.
I never knew the history of the Grade 11 listed Georgian mansion, but used to walk past it at the weekend, with its chaotic gardens, crumbling walls, windows smothered with creepers, blue wrought iron balconies, 1940s motorbike with side car in the front section and Do Not Enter warning signs everywhere. Sadly much of the house had collapsed after a fire ripped through the basement and ground floor three weeks after Mr Chappelow’s body was found by police.
|The mansion falling to pieces|
I wondered who had lived there and why they’d let it fall into such disrepair especially as the rest of the street is so beautiful and well-maintained. I used to drag all my friends to have a look at it. It had a spooky atmosphere about it and one of my friends refused to look at it, eerily believing that someone had died in there – eerie because at that stage, neither of us knew that Mr Chappelow had been murdered there.
For years I walked past the house so abandoned, forgotten and broken. Mr Chappelow and his family probably had a long and happy life in the house and it’s sad to see it in such a state. I later learnt that the new owners were waiting for planning permission to build a new home, retaining the original historic iron work from Manor House and building a new property with an identical facade to Mr Chappellow’s.
Update: January 2014 – the house is now gone, and development has begun on the new property.
All that remains is a huge hole of dirt on which numerous machines are digging and preparing the ground for a new, cream coloured two storey house (left).
A picture of the new house pinned to the fencing shows an almost identical home to the rotting and collapsing building that once stood there.