Property Secrets: Cllr Annie Brewster
- Credit: Archant
Annie Brewster is a local magistrate, District Ward Councillor for Wheathampstead, District Council Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage and arguably the most memorable former Mayor St Albans has ever seen. She shares her property secrets here...
Where are you from originally?
My childhood was spent at Waterend, near Wheathampstead, on the edge of Brocket Park. We lived in the early 16th century Grade II Listed timber framed White Cottage next to the ford and opposite Waterend House where the Duchess of Marlborough was born in 1660. The River Lea ran through the garden and the deep valley that hid the cottage meant it had more than its share of Hertfordshire killer-hills for my athletics middle-distance training.
When did you buy your first property?
After we were married we bought a house in Gainsborough Avenue off Clarence Road in St Albans.
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What was it like?
It was a solid 1960s three bedroom house that we modernised. It had decorative brick arches and mature apple trees in its old English country garden that originally belonged to a Victorian house in York Road we backed on to. It was very convenient for the Station and I spent many happy hours pushing prams around the 100-year-old Clarence Park.
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How long did you live there?
We lived there for five years.
Why did you decide to move?
We wanted to move back to Wheathampstead to be near my elderly parents.
Where do you live now?
We live in a Georgian style property in Gustard Wood at the end of a small lane. We have a gate from our front garden onto Gustard Wood Common and the old disused holes of the heathland Mid-Herts Golf Club.
Who do you live with?
I live with my husband Paul and, occasionally, sons Henry and George when they hear I’m cooking Sunday lunch.
How long have you lived there?
For over 20 years.
How would you describe your home in three words?
My soft landing.
What do you like/dislike about the area?
It is a tremendously peaceful location and it has a great community. We are still very rural, yet not rural enough to feel isolated.
What’s your favourite local restaurant, and why?
The Golden Elephant Thai Restaurant in Wheathampstead – London quality with a village welcome.
Have you changed much about your house since you’ve lived there?
Hugely, yes, we have altered most of the house. The kitchen has been in a number of different locations. After the boys grew up we created a bright family kitchen with underfloor heating and several pairs of hardwood French windows with arched transoms made by a local company, Nexus, in Kimpton. We live in it all the time and could pull the rest of the house down.
Is there anything you’d still like to change about your property?
Have more rooms with underfloor heating.
Where do you shop for interiors items?
All over the UK and abroad. My best buys have been a tapestry from a Bruges Christmas market and a cut down 19th century gilt mirror from Paris that was amazingly the perfect size for our fireplace to the actual centimetre.
What’s the best thing about your home? And the worst?
We cannot hear any external noise. This means I over-sleep without an alarm.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I absolutely love the sound of waves….it is just about the only thing our City and District of St Albans does not have.
Do you have a ‘dream road’ locally? Where is it if so?
I am extremely happy where we are.
Do you see yourself moving on in the near future?
Not in a hurry. We have superb connections; two motorways, two railway stations plus Welwyn Garden City, Harpenden and St Albans all within very easy reach.
Where would you like to live next?
Within the sound of St Albans Cathedral’s bells.
What would your dream home be like?
For each stage of life there is a dream home….I have no idea what comes next.