Dame Julie Walters’ quiet life in picturesque West Sussex village on her tranquil farm

Julie Walters says The Secret Garden could be her last film

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Dame Julie has been a staple of British acting on the stage, small, and silver screen since 1983’s Educating Rita earned her a first Academy Award nomination. Two years prior to that had seen the first in a long line of TV series alongside the “darling” late Victoria Wood – from Wood and Walters to the hilarious Dinnerladies. Few actors of the past 30 years can match the sheer breadth of the Edgbaston-born star’s back catalogue, or been privy to such a view of the changing landscape of the entertainment industry in that time.

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Born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the actress now lives in Plaistow.

Nestled away at the northern tip of the Chichester district, near the Surrey border, lies the lesser-known village of Plaistow. 

But while there isn’t too much going on in the village, that’s probably how its 2,000 residents want it.

The civil parish represents everything typical of an old-fashioned countryside village.

The picturesque and old-fashioned village offers splendid views of the South Downs and is home to more than 30 Grade II listed buildings, showing its unique links to history. 

The overall average house price in Plaistow currently sits at £367,926, according to Rightmove.

The majority of sales in Plaistow during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £413,719. 

Flats sold for an average of £283,000, with semi-detached properties fetching £391,250.

Dame Julie Walters herself lives on Lee House farm just outside the village with her husband, Grant Roffey.

Married since 1997, after a 12-year relationship, the couple have one daughter, Maisie Mae Roffey (born 1988) together.

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In 1999, Julie was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to drama, and in 2008, was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). 

In 2017, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

She was presented with the award at Buckingham Palace by the Queen and said it was, “fantastic,” to be honoured with such an accolade. 

Although the characteristically down-to-earth actress also added that when she first heard the news she, “weeded the garden,” in celebration.

Julie and Grant live in the dwelling which mainly involves cattle farming, although she does spare time for some arable farming, she told Sussex Life.

She said: “It’s livestock, rather than arable. We have our own vegetable patch, so we’re quite green, which I thoroughly approve of! It’s an organic farm: cattle, sheep and chickens – 40 cattle, 700 chickens, about 100 sheep.”

Julie and Grant have been actively involved with the community since they moved to the area over 20 years, and have staunchly opposed any construction projects that will harm the scenery of the idyllic village. 

Plaistow is home to a particularly important Site of Scientific Interest.

As a result of the village’s nestled nature in the South Downs, it proves the perfect habitat for a whole host of rare wildlife.

Chiddingford Forest is a haven for butterflies and moths, with the rare pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly and white-line snout moth found in the site. 

Along with the nearby village of Kirdford, it is also situated near an important bat corridor towards Ebernoe Common and the Men’s Nature Reserve.

It’s easy to see why the four-time BAFTA winner decided to choose the West Sussex village as her home.

Despite its low population, Julie Walters is not the only claim to fame the local area has.

Just four miles to the south of Plaistow lies the unheralded village of Kirdford to ex-supermodel Jodie Kid.

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