Titter ye not! Frankie's house opened to public

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The Independent Online

Fans of the comedian Frankie Howerd will get a unique insight into his colourful life this weekend when his home is opened to the public for the first time.

Hundreds of props, scripts, paintings and photographs belonging to the late Up Pompeii star are on display at Wavering Down, his cottage, near Cross, Somerset. Among many unusual items are the comic's false teeth, infamous wig and walking stick, which was hollowed to accommodate a bottle of gin in the shaft.

The archive has been brought together by Chris Byrne, Frankie's close friend who manages his estate.

Mr Byrne and Dennis Heymer, the funnyman's former partner and manager, still live in his country bolt-hole, which has remained unchanged since Howerd died there in 1992, aged 75.

"We have never changed a thing," Mr Byrne said. "Frankie never even had a washing machine and the mangle is still in the kitchen. "He was a real hoarder."

Wavering Down was the venue for a host of parties with some of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1970s. A pair of swords from the film Cleopatra were given to him by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Two stone cats from his close friend Lord Olivier, stand by the fireplace. A painting of Elvis given by the King himself hangs on a wall, along with a picture the Queen Mother sent as a house warming gift.

One bizarre present was a fossilised egg, from AD79, received from the Italian government in thanks for the Up Pompeii TV series.

Wavering Down opens tomorrow, Easter Monday and two to three times a month until the autumn.