CELEBRITY interior designer, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, has been in Flintshire to film his latest series.
Best known for appearances in the BBC series, Changing Rooms, the homestyle consultant turned his attention to Soughton House for his latest series, Hidden Houses of Wales.
Laurence spent four days filming at the renovated Georgian mansion in Sychdyn, near Northop, to discover the rags-to-riches story of its owner – former bricklayer turned building magnate David McLean.
The TV presenter told the Leader: “I have travelled all over the world, but I always feel like I have come home when I come to Wales.
“There is something very particular about Welsh history that you don’t find anywhere else in the UK.
“I was brought up in London, but even as a child, I had a fascination with Welsh history.
“Some of my best holidays were in Wales, exploring these old houses, and this series is a brilliant way of recovering those memories.”
In the programme, Laurence draws parallels between its current owner and the previous one.
Entrepreneur David, former boss of Deeside-based McLean Homes, which has 320 employees and a turnover of £160million, has lived at Soughton House for more than a decade.
Laurence said: “I have tremendous respect for David. He was a really great person to spend time with and is very down to earth.
“The house has a really sad story to tell and I don’t think it was one that David was anticipating.
“We took a look in the loft and in various outbuildings and found remnants of Catholic worship in the late 16th century, which is not unusual in this area.
“I loved making this series. For me it is not just about the homes but the people who live in them too.”
Laurence was born in Kensington, London, and graduated with a fine art degree from the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts.
He started his own design consultancy in 1989 and caught his television break in 1996 with Changing Rooms.
Now, when not designing his own wallpaper or hosting The Sunday Spa on Classic FM, he is the creative brains behind the Blackpool illuminations.
Laurence lives with his wife, Jackie, and their two daughters, Cecile and Hermione, at their 17th century, grade II listed manor house in Gloucestershire.
For the filming in Flintshire, Laurence stayed in the nearby Soughton Hall Hotel.
He said: “The staff were very nervous when I went to check in.
“It’s funny because in every hotel I stay in there is always the smell of fresh paint.”
l The new series of Hidden Houses of Wales starts on July 11 on BBC One Wales.
The episode featuring Soughton House is the third in the series.
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