Dior model buys up historic estate to transform it into an eco-farm

Malaysia-born Dior model Mandy Lieu swaps the catwalk for eco-farming as she buys Ewhurst Park – the former seat of the Duke of Wellington – for £28 million

  • Malaysian-born model and TV star, 35, has moved to the UK from Hong Kong
  • Mother-of-three paid £28 million for former seat of the Duke of Wellington
  • Plans to transform estate in Ramsdell, Hampshire into an eco-organic farm

Model Mandy Lieu is poised to swap the catwalk for muddy boots after becoming the new owner of Ewhurst Park, the former seat of the Duke of Wellington. 

The 35-year-old, one of Asia’s biggest stars who has fronted campaigns for Dior and is also a TV presenter and actress, paid £28 million for the estate, reports The Times.

Ms Lieu, who was born in Malaysia but is currently based in the UK after moving from Hong Kong, said she plans to transform the 925 acre park in Ramsdell, Hampshire into an eco farm producing high quality organic food. 

The mother-of-three also hopes to introduce a micro-forest, run holiday lets and establish a four-bedroom home for families who are affected by motor neurone disease. 

Model Mandy Lieu, pictured in June 2014, is poised to swap the catwalk for muddy boots after becoming the new owner of Ewhurst Park, the former seat of the Duke of Wellington

She told The Times: ‘I do not think myself a landowner. Instead I consider myself a steward of this land, working to leave it in a better state than I found it, and very soon I hope to open Ewhurst to invite as many people as possible to come on this journey with me.

‘I grew up in southeast Asia and was taught in my earliest years to respect food and the land that it comes from. Now, I am able to put my passion into practice in the UK.’

Ms Lieu hopes to attract experts in rewilding and regenerative farming. Writing in Sublime magazine yesterday, for which she is a columnist, she revealed she is interested to learn about how different ways of producing food can have different impacts on the environment. 

‘In the coming weeks, I hope to have more news for you about my own plans to start off in the world of farming,’ she said. ‘The future of our farming must be sustainable and regenerative.’ 

Ms Lieu, who was born in Malaysia but is currently based in the UK after moving from Hong Kong, said she plans to transform the 925 acre park in Ramsdell, Hampshire (pictured) into an eco farm producing high quality organic food

The mother-of-three also hopes to introduce a micro-forest, run holiday lets and establish a four-bedroom home for families who are affected by motor neurone disease

As part of her plans, the model will open a farm-to-table deli in London’s trendy Notting Hill with further plans to include local milk delivery in west London. 

She explained in a Sublime article: ‘My own effort at rebalancing our habits has been to launch a farm-to-table business, starting with my Notting Hill deli, which will support fantastic British farmers producing world-class organic food. 

‘In doing so, I hope to help show people the breadth of seasonal produce that is on our doorstep, when to buy it and how to cook it.’

The estate itself was most recently sold in 2007 for a reported £12 million to American-born businessman Michael Cohen – former European head of the hedge fund Och-Ziff. He is believed to have bought it as a country pit-stop while overseeing deals from his London office.  

Ms Lieu regularly hit the headlines in Asia for being the mistress of married Macau tycoon and chairman of Suncity Group Alvin Chauc 

Mr Cohen, who has dual British and US citizenship, built a large country house on the land, renovated its listed buildings and landscaped its expansive 18th century grounds. 

Guy Bradshaw, the head of UK residential at Sotheby’s International Realty, told The Times that there had been a significant influx of wealthy Asian millennials keen to buy up a piece of the British countryside. 

‘We’ve definitely seen a lot of younger people from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan coming through with quite substantial budgets over the last few weeks, looking for that lifestyle change,’ he said. ‘Their budgets start at around a million pounds upwards.’

Mr Bradshaw added that many are ‘shrewd’ investors looking to add value and make a return on their investment. He said he expects a number of Asian buyers will come over to the UK once Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. 

Ms Lieu regularly hit the headlines in Asia for being the mistress of married Macau tycoon and chairman of Suncity Group Alvin Chauc. 

Mr Chauc, 46, who has an estimated net worth of $2 billion, has two children with wife Heidi Chan, but also shares three – a son and two daughters – with Ms Lieu from their five year relationship.

Last year Apple Daily reported that Ms Lieu and Mr Chauc split, with him offering her a £29.7million (HK$300 million) ‘break-up fee’.

Ms Lieu moved to the UK, but attracted criticism in September for an Instagram post on Sublime’s platform in which she welcomed readers to her new regular column discussing ‘sustainable food, lifestyle and family’.

Several people commented on her relationship with Mr Chauc, with one writing: ‘How could a mistress talk about family and children?’  

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