Downton Shabby: One American's Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family's English Castle (Hardcover)
HGTV meets Downton Abbey! A ready-for-TV story—with charm and humor in abundance—about a Los Angeles producer who moves to England to save his ancestral castle from ruin.
“A true delight...In this marvelous debut, film producer DePree leaves the Hollywood hills to resurrect his British ancestral home, a 50,000-square-foot estate in the English countryside. Readers are in for a treat."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Hollywood producer Hopwood DePree had been told as a boy that an ancestor—who he was named for—had left his family’s English castle in the 1700s to come to America. One night after some wine and a visit to Ancestry.com, Hopwood discovered a photograph of a magnificent English estate with a familiar name: Hopwood Hall, a 60-room, 600-year-old grand manor on 5,000 acres. And with that, Hopwood DePree’s life took an almost fairytale turn.
Hopwood Hall, in northwest England, was indeed his family’s ancestral home. It had been occupied continuously by the Hopwood family for five centuries until the last remaining male heirs were killed in World War I. Since then, the Hall had fallen gradually into disrepair and was close to collapse. When Hopwood visited, he discovered trees growing in the chimneys, holes in the roof, and water sluicing down walls. It would take many millions to save the Hall—millions that Hopwood certainly didn’t have—but despite the fact that he lived in Los Angeles and had no construction skills, Hopwood DePree came to a conclusion: He would save Hopwood Hall.
Downton Shabby—the name Hopwood coined for the glorious ruin—traces Hopwood DePree’s adventures as he gives up his life in Hollywood and moves permanently to England to save Hopwood Hall from ruin. But the task is far too big for one person, of course. Hopwood discovers that the Hall comes with an unforgettable cast of new neighbors he can call on for help—from the electrician whose mum had fond memories of working at the Hall to gruff caretaker Bob, and the local aristocrats who (sort of) come to accept Hopwood as one of their own. Together, as they navigate the trials and triumphs of trying to save an actual castle, Hopwood finds himself ever further from the security of his old life, but comes to realize that, actually, he’s never been closer to home.
Hopwood DePree was raised in suburban Michigan and graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. A critically acclaimed writer-performer and independent filmmaker, he now works full-time on the restoration of Hopwood Hall, his ancestral estate.
“A true delight...In this marvelous debut, film producer DePree leaves the Hollywood hills to resurrect his British ancestral home, a 50,000-square-foot estate in the English countryside. Readers are in for a treat." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)