Jeremy Clarkson has made way for his new house in the Cotswolds after blowing up his old home. Clarkson was granted permission in July to demolish his £4 million, five-bedroom farmhouse near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and build a new one. But instead of calling in the bulldozers “like any normal person would do” he hired a demolition firm and razed the property to the ground in a massive explosion. All that remains of the house is an enormous pile of rubble and wood.
Neighbours, who received a letter warning them of the works just the night before Wednesday’s blast, said they heard a series of explosions throughout the afternoon. A grey dusty cloud still hung over the blitzed remains of the house on Thursday. Villagers in nearby Chadlington said Clarkson and his team were in the area filming for his new Amazon TV show The Grand Tour this week. The demolition marks the start of building work to create a brand new 12,173 sq ft home on what Clarkson calls Diddly Squat Farm.
Approved plans for the six-bedroom home claim it will be “a modest country house/gentrified farmhouse which gives the appearance of having grown over time”. It will have a walled garden, orangery, basement cinema and five bathrooms, as well as space for five cars and a quad bike store.
One neighbour, 44, who spotted the pile of rubble, said it was “typical Clarkson”. He said: “Before there was a big old farmhouse but there is little to be seen of that now. Apparently they sent some of the villagers who were around half a mile from it letters telling them something was going to happen. It’s just typical Clarkson isn’t it? Any normal person would get in people to take it apart conventionally, but he blows it up. He blew up the entire house. All that’s left is a huge pile of Costwold stone.”
Another neighbour, who saw the explosion, said: “All you could see was grey smoke each time they blew part of it up, but it was very loud in my house. I got a letter through the door the night before saying it would be between 1pm and 4pm. They started blowing it up about 3.15pm and finished around 4.10pm. There was a funeral being held at the village at 2.30pm, which was still on when the explosions started.”
Clarkson bought the property – then called Curdle Hill Farmhouse – in 2012 after it was put on the market for £4.2 million. In 2013 he was granted planning permission by West Oxfordshire District Council for a six-bedroom house with a swimming pool, orchard, croquet lawn and tennis court. But it is understood he didn’t progress with any of the plans and submitted new plans in May to the same council for a 12,173 sq ft home.
The new country pad is set to be made of rubblestone laid in lime mortar with ashlar stone dressings. It will be 12 times the size of the average UK new-build – but won’t have the pool or tennis court of the original plan. But it will have a basement cinema, an attic games room, a walled garden, orangery, room for five cars, a yard for horses, six bedrooms and five bathrooms.
The design and access statement submitted to the council said: “The current proposed house has been conceived as a modest country house/gentrified farmhouse which gives the appearance of having grown over time.” It added: “The architectural language that has been employed is a restrained classical/vernacular language. The only use of columns is on the south facing loggia which will be open to the elements. The simplest of the classical orders has been used, i.e. a baseless doric order which is the most restrained of the doric order type and which was used on classical farmhouses and smaller country houses in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The only other use of the classical orders is on the modest porch to the entrance on the east elevation. The rest of the house is astylar with overall facades being carefully proportioned, as well as the window and door openings.”