It was September when the diggers finally arrived. David and Victoria Beckham had initially put in the planning application for improvements at their Cotswold estate in July, having spent the preceding months of lockdown there. The plans seemed, on first glance, pretty run-of-the-mill for this celeb-heavy bit of West Oxfordshire. There was to be a gatehouse for security, a wine cellar and an extension to their garage, the better to house their enormous car collection. But something else, too, something quite surprising: the couple wanted to build an enormous 3,000 square metre lake which would dominate their estate in the village of Great Tew.
The planning application explained that the “kidney-shaped lake” would “be approached and encircled by a mown grass path which will wend its way through newly created gently sloping grass meadowland. This will be distinct from the formal lawn closer to the house.” To which enraged local, Michael Douglas, responded by saying: “What they appear to want is to bring suburbia into the countryside”. Mr Douglas might have a point of course, but there is something else, too. The Beckhams are the latest in a long line of celebrities to invest their cash in what some call status lakes.
Indeed, Ed Sheeran decided to build his own kidney-shaped “wildlife pond” last year at his estate in Framlingham in Suffolk. Plonked in the middle of a field of vines it has its own mini jetty and an attendant Romany-style caravan. Mr Sheeran laudably claimed he aims at “providing a natural habitat for breeding and wetland invertebrates such as dragonflies and water beetles”.
It seems to be a desire shared by other musicians: Roger Daltrey famously dug his own at Holmshurst Manor near Burwash in Sussex. He explained, “I enlisted the help of Herbert, the son of the publican who ran our local, The Kicking Donkey. We spent happy weeks digging out the silt and raising the dam until I had a proper lake.”
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