he may grace red carpets and have a groaning awards shelf, but Olivia Colman remains determinedly “normal” in other respects, not least in her decision to swell the ranks of London leavers by swapping Peckham for the countryside.
The Lost Daughter actor bought a five-bedroom house in the fashionable south-east London neighbourhood for £885,000 in 2011 but she and her husband, producer Ed Sinclair, sold it at the end of last year for £2.3 million.
They moved with their three children to a Grade II-listed barn conversion in Norfolk where Colman grew up. The swap reportedly left the couple about £1 million in change and they are reported to have submitted a planning application for an outdoor swimming pool and extension to an existing summer house.
The property is near the Sandringham estate, owned by the Queen who Colman plays in The Crown.
Discussing the move out of the capital, Colman told the Guardian: “I like being able to be outside and no one can see me. I wear a woolly hat.”
She is not alone. Londoners spent a record £54.9 billion on property outside the capital over the course of the pandemic and many A-listers were among them.
Let’s take a look at where some of London’s biggest names have been moving to (or threatening to, anyway) since Covid-19 hit in 2020.
A leading proponent of “the London look” and stalwart of the capital’s party scene, supermodel and lifelong Londoner Kate Moss traded the Big Smoke for the calmer, fresher air of the Cotswolds this year.
In February, the long-time north Londoner, who previously lived in Primrose Hill and Maida Vale, sold her Highgate mansion next door to George Michael’s former house, moving permanently to the Oxfordshire village where she has owned a 10-bedroom, Grade II-listed property for over a decade.
The former party girl turned teetotaller sold up for £11.5 million ahead of the big move to Little Farringdon with her boyfriend Nikolai von Bismark.
The couple, who have been together since 2015, had reportedly spent lockdown in the countryside and relished the slower pace of life.
Moss, originally from Croydon, is believed to have made a £4.25 million profit after buying her London home for £7.25 million in 2011. It had only been on the market since the end of 2021.
Her Majesty has moved to Berkshire, according to recent reports. The 95-year old monarch now plans to live permanently in Windsor Castle, only returning to Buckingham Palace, her 775-room official residence in Westminster, for day trips. The journey time? One hour, traffic depending.
The Queen headed to what was formerly her weekend getaway in March 2020, when the country first went into lockdown. She is said to have preferred basing herself there full-time, perhaps partly due to younger royals, including Princess Eugenie, choosing to bring up their families nearby.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also reportedly considering jumping on the Home Counties bandwagon and making Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park their home.
Nick Candy and Holly Vallance
The pull of Soho Farmhouse was presumably too strong for billionaire property developer Nick Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, who are reported to have bought an Oxfordshire mansion just around the corner from the private members’ club (and Kate Moss) last summer.
The sprawling seven-bedroom pile they are said to have bought has a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, stables and even its own chapel.
Candy told the Daily Mail that the couple and their two young daughters are “very immersed in quiet country life at weekends and adore the friendly and welcoming village”.
They left behind a two-storey Hyde Park penthouse with 18,000 ft of living space – the equivalent of roughly 25 average-sized English homes.
The property was reported to have its own private spa, 750-bottle wine room, cocktail bar and golf simulator. It went on sale as Britain’s most expensive apartment in April 2021 for £175 million.
The former Top Gear presenter, 61, has owned the 1000-acre site near Chipping Norton since 2008. But it was only in 2019, when the farmer who worked it retired, that he decided to up sticks from London, invest in some steel-toed boots and have a go himself.
Persuading his partner, artist and former model Lisa Hogan, 48, to move away from the city full-time took some doing. He succeeded by giving her the job of managing the lucrative farm shop, which she set up in 2020, but she retains a studio in London that she returns to weekly. The couple also still have their Kensington flat as an urban bolthole.
They had been living in a small cottage in the grounds while their new 12,000 sq ft farmhouse was being built (Clarkson blew the old one up during an episode of The Grand Tour in 2016, but that’s another story…).
The six-bedroom home, which they finally moved into after months of delays in November 2021, was described in approved plans as “a modest country house/gentrified farmhouse which gives the appearance of having grown over time”.
It is thought to boast an orangery, basement cinema, quad bike store, walled garden and, of course, plenty of space for Clarkson’s fleet of cars.
Chart-topping singer Ed Sheeran has a £61 million property empire, but he has chosen to spend much of his time in Suffolk, where he grew up, in what is fast becoming known by locals as ‘Sheeranville’.
His main home is a 16-acre estate near Framlingham, where he lives with his wife Cherry Seaborn and their young daughter Lyra. Bought by Sheeran, 31, in 2012 and rumoured to be worth £4 million, it includes Wynneys Hall, three adjacent houses, and its own pub in a converted barn that’s accessed via an underground tunnel.
There is also a recording studio, heart-shaped pond, fruit orchard, luxury treehouse and an indoor swimming pool and fitness complex.
Sheeran also owns a £19.8 million house in Notting Hill, which he bought in 2019, plus another 20 or so investment properties scattered around the city. Since Lyra’s arrival in 2020, however, the couple have been spending more time in the countryside.
Prepare to raise an eyebrow, but multi-millionaire Adele told Vogue last year that she left London for Los Angeles in 2016 because she “couldn’t afford” to live in the same “kind of house” in the capital.
Instead, the Grammy-winning singer, 33, invested in a $30 million (£22m) compound of three Beverly Hills mansions to get better value for her money. She had “looked at houses” in London but said the nine-figure price tags made her bolt.
“It’s like hundreds of millions of pounds,” she said. “I don’t have that much money at all. I’d throw up.”
You can take the girl out of London, but not London out of the girl. Her chosen decorating style? “It’s very much British cottage”.
Adele has not turned her back on London property completely however. She splashed just over £11m on an adjacent mews house and town house in Kensington.
Last year planning permission was granted to combine the two properties into a single mansion featuring a 1,000sq ft master bedroom, designed by fashionable architects Michaelis Boyd Associates. The work will cost an estimated £2 million.
Despite living in the property for nearly two decades, the 74-year old rock legend announced his intention to leave the capital shortly after the incident, calling it a “brutal” place to live that he had “hated” for a while.
“We put a lot of love and care into building the house but the surroundings have been horrible for such a long time,” he told The Mirror at the time. “They have been building basements now for about eight years all around and there is constant noise, traffic, dust, pollution and rudeness. London is now brutal. It’s time for us to leave.”
May and his wife, ex-EastEnders actress Anita Dobson, are now thought to base themselves in the Surrey village of Windlesham, where they have owned a home for 35 years. Multiple interviews held in that property have revealed its panelled rooms, observatory (May is also an astrophysicist) and walls decorated with gold records.
May previously threatened to quit London altogether in 2017, after complaining about the local council’s leaf blowers.