Oscar winner buys his own 'Gosford Park'

Julian Fellowes, the scriptwriter who won an Oscar for Gosford Park, the film of a murder mystery in a country house, has bought his own rural retreat.

He and his wife, Emma Kitchener, great-great niece of Lord Kitchener and a lady in waiting to Princess Michael of Kent, are understood to have paid £1.5m for Stafford House, a Grade II listed manor house near Dorchester.

The house, in the heart of Thomas Hardy country, has extensive grounds with gardens, paddocks and woodlands. Emma Fellowes' mother will be moving to a cottage in the grounds. The couple are thought to have made money on their relocation from London, having sold their four- bedroom Knightsbridge home for about £2m.

Fellowes, 52, won the Academy Award in March for Gosford Park, and appropriately has chosen a home that also has recent Hollywood history. Stafford House was used as the setting for the 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. Fellowes said: "It's going to be our home. There's no question of us being the types who buy a place in the country but never set foot in it."

The house in Dorset has literary associations. The local church of St Michael was the place where Tess and Angel Clare are said to have married in Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Fellowes is also well known as an actor, playing Lord Kilwillie in the BBC drama Monarch of the Glen. In the 1970s he wrote romantic novels under the pseudonym Rebecca Greville.