Strictly NW1: Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden Town home is up for sale
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden home is up for sale. India Block talks to him at the home that Cameron Mackintosh lent him money to buy back in 1997 where he partied with showbiz friends such as Kelly Brook and played host to Strictly’s dancing pros
When I’m invited to interview Strictly Come Dancing’s fiercest judge at his Camden Town home I’ll admit, visions of disco balls danced in my head. In reality, Craig Revel Horwood’s first home is really rather sensible. Yes its front is painted powder pink, there’s a giant backlit signed CATS poster in the hall and there’s a chandelier in the garden, but it’s also got plenty of storage space and the original 1850s windows are excellently maintained.
It was love at first viewing for Revel Horwood when he first stepped over the threshold of Number One Kelly Street twenty years ago. It was April 1997, the magnolia tree in the garden was in full bloom and sunlight was streaming through the Grade II listed windows. “It was just so charming,” he sighs. “I thought, I’ve gotta get that.”
The 52 year old Australian born dancer, choreographer and Strictly star had been living in a shared house in Camden for years and was desperate to get on the property ladder.
“It’s the first house I ever bought. I had to save what felt like a fortune to get the mortgage on it,” he says.
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The house was on the market for £149,000. Short of cash and starring in CATS, Revel Horwood turned to theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh for a loan of £40,000 to bag his dream house, paying the loan back by renting out some of the rooms.
“I called it Kelly Castle because it’s my little castle,” he says. “I was really proud that I was finally on the ladder.”
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Kelly Castle has had its fair share of celebrity visitors and showbiz parties over the years. The bubbling fountain in the patio garden was christened Kelly Brook, after Revel Horwood’s one time strictly co-star. Despite his savage on-screen persona, the notoriously harsh judge frequently played host to the dancers on the series whilst they were in town for filming.
“They loved it, absolutely loved it, and they’re really sad I’m selling it. They wanted to buy it themselves, bless them,” he laughs. Couldn’t they have a whip round for a strictly clubhouse? “They would love that, I’m telling you!”
Revel Horwood reminisces about parties where friends would gather round his piano in the front room to sing songs - fitting as Kentish Town was once famous for being London’s centre of piano manufacturing.
Future residents needn’t worry about inheriting a bad reputation with the neighbours, despite the twenty years of parties. “I’ve only had a complaint about the noise once, when I got a new base boom box for my stereo,” admits Revel Horwood. “Next door said ‘Uh, Craig, it’s about the bass. Just calm that down after 11.”
Rest assured, the acoustics have been thoroughly tested. “That’s the beauty about these old houses. They’re substantial, and because it’s end of terrace essentially and the walls are thick as,” he tells me. “You don’t hear anything from next door.”
The property is an oasis of tranquillity, with its zen garden and roof terrace at the back providing a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Camden Town when the tourists descend in the their droves. There’s no noise from through traffic, either. Kelly Street is now a cul-de-sac, and the whole street has been deemed a conservation area.
Turning off Kentish town road you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a pocket of Primrose Hill. The sweeping curve of Victorian terraces with their stucco fronts painted in sweet shop hues and picturesque gas lamps is like something straight out of a tourist advert for scenic north London. In fact, Revel Horwood tells me Eurostar chose Kelly Street as the location for one of their first commercials to showcase a Parisian arriving in London.
The location is hard to beat, with excellent public transport links (Revel Horwood only got his driving license six years ago) and the West End within walking distance. It also has that all important highly prized NW1 postcode.
“This is the last street in Camden, we’re still NW1 here which I love,” he boasts. “Postcodes are important - you don’t want to have to say NW5 when one street away is NW1.” It’s not so much postcode snobbery as loyalty, he hastens to add.
“I could never imagine living south of the river, not because I’m south or north-ist, although I suppose I am a little bit, but because where I first fell in love with London was Camden.”
Camden, like No 1 Kelly Street, has plenty of good vibes. Revel Horwood loves the sense of community, the high street with its stalwart independent shops, the greasy spoons and the pubs which have held out against the relentless gentrification of London, for the most part at least.
“I loved the markets when they were proper markets in the old days, where you could walk in and get all weird and wonderful things.” There have been accusations that the cradle of London’s punk scene has become over sanitised, but the young families who are looking to settle down in the area now are probably reassured the area has grown up a little bit since its rebellious early days. “Camden has changed actually, for the better,” he reckons. “It’s cleaned up a lot, which is good.”
But for Revel Horwood it’s time to swap the hustle and bustle of north London living for the relative peace of his Hampshire home.
“Change is good too, but I will miss this place. It’s been lovely,” he tells me. “It’s really emotional selling it to be honest. You fall in love with the place, you fall in love with the bricks and you fall in love with the mortar.”
Revel Horwood thinks the home would be ideal for a young professional couple looking to get on the ladder, although potential buyers would do well to have a musical fairy godmother too. It’s no secret that Camden house prices have skyrocketed, and the No 1 Kelly Street is now on the market for £1.2 million. The two bed measures just over 900 sq ft, and there’s planning permission to broaden the footprint and extend up another floor.
Most importantly, Revel Horwood would like the house to go to “someone that will look after the windows because they’re all original.”
He’s spent a lot of time maintaining them over the past two decades, and wishes he could take them with him along with the signed CATS poster when he takes up permanent residence in the country. “But I don’t think the council will let that happen somehow, darling.”