In August 2018, tabloids reported that Rupert Sanders had offered £5 million ($7.3 million) to buy the home of the late literary great, HG Wells. The 13.5-acre property, which includes the Grade II-listed Grand Old Lady of Reading, had been bought by the late author for just £60,000 in 1911. Since then, it had remained in the family. The property is now on the market for a princely sum.
Wells’ Grand Old Lady Of Reading
The building, which dates back to the 17th century, has housed some of literature’s greatest minds. It was here that HG Wells wrote his final book, The Shape Of Things To Come, before he died in October 1945. He reportedly dictated the last chapter while sitting in his bath. He is buried in the graveyard behind the church. The graveyard also contains the remains of Charlotte, his second wife, who died in 1956.
In May 2018, it was reported that Rupert Sanders, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill and great-grandson of Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, was looking for a new home to expand his collection of vintage cars. He was particularly impressed with the 23-room Grand Old Lady of Reading, which he described as ‘a unique piece of English real estate’.
It was here that he proposed to his girlfriend, Kate Maltby, on New Year’s Eve 1998. They have since celebrated many happy occasions, including the birth of their son, Iorek, in 2011. Kate has accompanied Rupert on many of his vintage car adventures and is determined to see the house preserved for future generations.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in March 2020 has halted many leisure activities, with people wanting to keep a safe distance from one another. This has particularly affected the film industry, with many major projects being postponed or moving to online platforms.
The pandemic has exposed many dark aspects of society, not least of which is the prevalence of paedophilia. The Robert Pattinson documentary, The King Cobra, shows the 50-year-old actor opening up about his own experiences as a child victim of sexual abuse. We also learn about the dark side of showbusiness, with some of the most prominent figures in the film industry acknowledging that some of their biggest breaks came as a result of being sexually involved with adults. In December 2019, Pattinson wrote a heartbreaking letter to his wife, Grace, explaining that he was ‘still in that place’ and needed her ‘love, understanding and most importantly, patience’.
These were not light matters for the star, who has remained resolute in his efforts to fight the stigma surrounding child abuse. Even before the pandemic, he had founded, with other leading lights in the industry, the Child Abuse Charity, Bite Back, in 2018. The organisation’s stated aim is to provide ‘a national forum for service providers, parents and carers, and the general public, to share best practice, address gaps in the system, and find resources to support them in dealing with child abuse’.
Pattinson has previously spoken candidly about his troubled childhood and how these experiences informed his acting. In his 2015 documentary, Pattinson addresses the issue of sexual abuse in an interview with his father, Robin. ‘I don’t think I’d be sitting here now if I hadn’t been through a lot of trauma at a very early age, which shaped who I am and what I do,’ he says.
‘I certainly had experiences that I think any adult would be very worried about,’ he continues. ‘If somebody was going to do something to me, it was probably going to be something very unpleasant.’
Rupert And Kate Are Car Enthusiasts
Rupert Sanders, 62, is the founder of the Terra firma art collection and museum in Totnes, Devon. The billionaire, who lives in London, has a deep connection with his ancestral home, having grown up amidst its sprawling parks and magnificent gardens. He has previously stated that he spent ‘hours and hours’ as a child, exploring the extensive grounds. He became so interested in all things automotive that he even built his own petrol station, complete with miniature cars, once. The station, which was hidden from view, still stands. After spending some time living in Los Angeles, where he owns a piece of property that previously belonged to Edward Doheny – the man who founded the city – Sanders made the move back to the UK. He subsequently bought the Grand Old Lady of Reading.
Kate, who is based in London, is a qualified architect and has been designing interiors for over 20 years. She met Sanders through mutual friends in 2017 and became his ‘digital architect’, designing his website, marketing material and social media platforms. She has also helped with the design of his art collection, which is housed in a 19th-century country manor.
Speaking about his new country home, Sanders said, ‘It’s been a yearning of mine to have a big house in the countryside, somewhere green and pretty. I grew up in the country, and it’s great to have a place where I can get away from the hustle and bustle.’ He added that he would like to see the house become a museum, filled with his favourite cars and other memorabilia. ‘I want to create a living museum,’ he said.
An Intimate Evening With Rupert And Kate
With the outbreak of the coronavirus, new opportunities for socialising have emerged. In May and June 2020, Kate and Rupert held an intimate evening concert in their living room, performing songs from the 1950s and ‘60s, as well as some hits from later in their careers. The show was attended by family and friends, and was recorded for posterity. This was one of many similar concerts organised by Kate and Rupert in the coming months. The couple have been diligently promoting live music and are keen to see local bands flourish within the current climate. According to one of their former housemates, the couple are also ‘very welcoming’ and ‘wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time’.
In keeping with their desire to preserve music for future generations, in December they donated 300 vinyl records to the Vinyl Factory, a charity that creates new works of music from vintage vinyl. The collection, which has been stored in their attic, features many iconic artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys and The Kinks.
The Future Of Film
While many major productions have been postponed, some are finding new homes on digital platforms. In March 2020, Disney+ premiered A Kid Like Jake, part of their Marvel Cinematic Universe, online. The series follows the adventures of a young, aspiring magician named Jake Shieber, played by Taron Egerton. The series also marks the return of Marvel’s Nick Fury, who was last seen in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
In January 2021, it was announced that MGM would be releasing their own streaming service, Stargazer, with the first season set to include films directed by James Gunn, such as the horror classic, Fright Night. In July 2021, it was announced that Chris Pratt would be starring alongside Bryce Dallas Howard in a Jurassic World reboot, set for release in June 2021. In early 2021, it was reported that Universal would be launching a dedicated streaming service called, simply, Universal. Like its competitors, it will feature classic films and new releases from the company’s back catalogue, along with documentaries and TV shows. The service will be priced at $6.99 per month and will be made available to subscribers via Apple TV, Roku, and smart TVs.
The coming months will undoubtedly bring new revelations about the impact of the pandemic on our culture. The entertainment industry, in particular, will be deeply impacted by the current climate. Actors, musicians and other celebrities will have to find new ways to make a living. There may also be a rise in child protection charities as more people become aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse and the devastating effects that it can have on a child’s life. Whatever the changes, we have much to learn from the people who have led exemplary lives in the face of adversity – men like Robert Pattinson.