Maximum exposure: Inside Max Clifford's tranquil Surrey home
PR supremo Max Clifford has made his name with sex scandals and celebrity clients. But his tranquil Surrey home tells a very different story
Wednesday 21 May 2008
I've lived in Burwood Park, near Weybridge, for 14 years now; in fact, I've actually got two houses here. It's a private gated estate with a golf course and a lake set in the grounds of one of King Henry VIII's deer parks. My partner Jo and I get the best of both worlds here because the whole area is handy for town and the airports, but is still only a few minutes drive from picturesque farms and villages. It is an ideal location for me because I like the greenery and wouldn't live in London if you paid me.
The house itself is a seven-bedroom, £3.5m home set in an acre of gardens and it's absolutely lovely. It's six years old, but we've only been here for the last two years since we moved from my other house in the park, which my daughter lives in now. That house was the family home before my wife died and I still go round most days to use the indoor swimming pool. It's great for me and Louise, my daughter, to both be able to use the family home.
Having both houses in a gated community wasn't planned or anything to do with wanting any extra privacy. We just fell in love with the park; the gates mean you don't get lorries thundering past. The park was the real attraction though. I can walk my dogs around the lake and I love eating the chestnuts from the trees around the grounds. We even see deer in the park, which you don't often see elsewhere.
Before Jo and I moved here we looked at houses in Cobham, in St George's Hill, in Weybridge, and in Oxshott, but every time we came back into the park I thought I really don't want to leave here. It suits me. So that's how we eventually arrived at where we're living.
As soon as we walked into this house we fell in love with the place. We didn't have to do much work to it at all. All we did is redecorate in our style, lots of pastels, to make the house bright and relaxing. We had the kitchen fitted with all the mod cons as Jo loves to cook – whereas I love to eat but I can't boil an egg.
Often, I don't finish work till late so Jo and I will stop off in town for something to eat, so I don't really eat at home more than one or two nights a week. For example, one night we might have a bite at the Italian restaurant near to my office, the next go to Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's. I don't smoke or drink but I do love my food. It's just as well I do so much exercise or I would be even fatter. I've always been a very keen sportsman and I play tennis up at St George's Lawn Club several times a week and swim most days. I don't use the golf club in the estate though; golf is far too slow a game for me.
The house is perfect for helping me relax. It has so much space and is surrounded by greenery – it's the total opposite of all the buildings, traffic, congestion and noise of London. The house is so relaxing and gentle that some might call it bland. But because I've got so much excitement in my life, the quieter and gentler everything is at home, the better.
I relax in my television room – I'm a football addict and I watch all the matches in there. I've also got a fantastic old jukebox and most of the records on it are ones that I worked on in the Sixties. It's full of bands like The Beatles and other big names like The Bee Gees, Cream, and Joe Cocker.
One thing we have barely touched since moving in is the garden, mainly because the previous owners had done such a wonderful job of it. I work in a very manic world, so to sit in the garden with my dogs is the perfect antidote. Saying that, the garden is where I do most of my television interviews. For example, last month I did 20 interviews in one day alone out there, mainly on Heather Mills and the McCanns. I don't feel like my home space is invaded at all, though, because the television crews and journalists probably only get to see about 10 per cent of the house.
Most of my work is done at home as I only go into London about half of my working week. I'm not even in the study here all that often as I do most of my work in the lounge. It's a very large and relaxing room and there's an extremely comfortable armchair, which I can sink into and take in the view of the garden. That's where I write, so that would probably be my favourite spot.
Our garden room at the back of the house is another favourite of mine because it gets the sun all day. The house is south-facing so we can see blue skies all day long, weather permitting. I love the sunshine; I have a home in Spain for the same reason.
I've been very lucky to have such a wonderful home. It is a total contrast to the little terrace house in south Wimbledon that I grew up in and that makes me appreciate it all the more. A lot of people I know who have been bought up in wealthy families don't get anything like the same pleasure because that's what they've always had. Whereas I'll always know I've done it myself. The only person who has made it and paid for it is me.
Born in Kingston upon Thames, Maxwell Frank Clifford, 65, founded his PR company, Max Clifford Associates, in 1970. Since then, he has represented numerous celebrities, including Mohamed Al Fayed and Simon Cowell. He lives with his partner, Jo, in Burwood Park near Weybridge.
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