BUT WHAT A SWEET LITTLE ROOM PROGRAMMES EXTRA

THE COUNTRY COTTAGE A SHORT HOP FROM THE STUDIO

The filming location for Arthur de Crecy's country cottage from But What A Sweet Little Room proved nearly impossible to track down and we now know why: it was completely demolished in 1970 and there are few visual clues remaining today to suggest that it had ever existed.

'Ewhurst Manor', 37 Furzehill Road, Borehamwood was used by several ITC productions as a filming location, but it had seamier side, being a favourite location for the photographing of young ladies in various states of undress and the filming of 'glamour' films by a variety of photographers and film makers, the most famous being George Harrison Marks. The owner of the house, Mrs Doris Clifford was reputedly a great champion of Marks' endeavours and he filmed many 8mm movie shorts and staged numerous photographic glamour shoots at the manor house. The films included Nightmare at Elm Manor (1963) and Visit from Venus (1964) and the glamour photography involved models such as Margaret Nolan (under the pseudonym Vicky Kennedy), June Palmer and Vivienne Warren. Mrs Clifford encouraged film makers to use her property and she would make a 'nominal charge' for filming and photographic sessions. She and her husband Alec were separated but he remained at the house for six months of the year and reputedly gave his wife a free hand to engage in her lucrative sideline. Apparently, the regular appearance of a series of attractive, naked young women in the house and grounds did not inconvenience him particularly!
 
Nightmare at Elm Manor (aka Flesh and Fantasie) was filmed both in the grounds and in the house itself in 1963. It can be viewed at this site and contains material of an adult nature. Please be warned:

Nightmare at Elm Manor - not safe for work

 

The information we have concerning 'Ewhurst Manor' and the Cliffords has, until now, been sourced from one article in an American adult magazine of the 1960s, Caper (reproduced here - again, contains material of an adult nature and is not safe for viewing at work), and it occurred to me that considering the nature of such publications, the Clifford name may have been a pseudonym used in the piece. However, pleasingly, we have now been able to confirm their identities from telephone directories of the era:  Alec Clifford (and therefore Doris) were recorded as being resident at 37 Furzehill Road from 1958 to 1970 (and their telephone number was ELStree 1096). The only thing that may be an invention for the article is the Ewhurst Manor name itself and until we are able to confirm this either way, there must be at least some doubt that the building went by this name. It is entirely possible that the name was made up for the feature as the name 'Ewhurst Manor' affords significantly more mystique than '37 Furzehill Road'!

The house itself was south-east facing and was built on the former Whitehouse Farm. It sat behind another property (believed to be under the same ownership) which was known as White House and this building was also sat back from Furzehill Road. The entrance to Ewhurst was via a narrow track road that went past White House. As had been guessed by the presence of the willow tree seen in some shots in ITC programmes filmed there, the garden on the Ewhurst estate sloped down to a small pond, reputedly one of two in the grounds according to staff at the Elstree and Borehamwood Museum. The house was divided into two distinct properties which were adjoining: the three storey main house and the cottage. This was a two-storey building which can be seen to the extreme left of the top picture on this page and in close-up in the photograph below which has been kindly supplied by Derek Allen to Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified). Derek's friend Jimmy Lovegrove lived in the cottage in the 1950s and together as children, Jimmy and Derek used to play in the garden. Today, he remembers Mrs Clifford as being a very fastidious housekeeper - the main house was always spotlessly clean.

1958 Photograph of the Ewhurst Cottage
Derek Allen, Elstree and Borehamwood Museum. Used with permission.

 

The Whitehouse Farm estate was originally spread over 200 acres. However, this land was gradually sold off to cover death duties and declining wealth and by the time Alec Clifford inherited the houses and land, it was necessary to sell off most of the remaining land for similar reasons. By the time that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the other ITC series and the likes of George Harrison Marks were filming at the house, the estate is believed to have been shrunk down to between three and four acres only.

The manor house is reputed to have dated back to the 18th century and, along with White House, was originally built as farm dwellings.

Today, there is nothing surviving of the Ewhurst Manor or White House estates, bar perhaps a tree or two. A modern housing estate now stands on the Ewhurst Estate and the Ewhurst name has not survived, not even down to a local road name. White House is commemorated by Whitehouse Avenue, and part of this road runs parallel with where the front of Ewhurst Manor once stood and cuts through the former location of the Ewhurst pond). The houses on Mildred Avenue which can be seen on the maps above - Widbrook, Beaulieu, Grey Cot and Furze Lodge - still remain today and these properties now mark the north-western perimeter of the housing estate built on the site of Elstree Manor. It would appear that the current buildings on the Ewhurst site are not those that directly replaced it. These appear also to have been demolished; the current buildings are believed to date from the mid- to late-1990s.

Following my discovery of this location in March 2012, fans of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and other ITC series finally know where DeCrecy's stood, something of its history (maybe too much!) and thanks to modern technology, we can even overlay old maps on satellite views to see precisely where it was situated. Of course, that's not the same as seeing the building up close, a pleasure that history has denied us. So near and yet so far!

Feature and Research by Alan Hayes Mapwork by Anthony McKay Additional Research by Rita Hayes and Joan Street
Thanks to
Derek Allen, The Elstree and Borehamwood Museum, Yahoo 60sGlam-Ewhurst Group, Gavcrimson Blog

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