Recently I attended an in person book event for the launch of the book Downton Shabby by author Hopwood Depree. I happened upon the event through social media (Facebook) and signed up immediately. As someone who loves history and all things England this sounded incredibly interesting. Upon signing up for the event I discovered that not only was the author from my hometown but he also attended my same high school years before!
I went ahead and pre-ordered the book from Amazon a few weeks prior to the event. I was so excited when it actually showed up on my front porch the day it came out (and the day before the event)! The book is beautiful and I adore the pictures that not only follow the restoration of the Hopwood Hall, but also cover the history of the family there.
Here is a quick summary of the book from Goodreads:
Hollywood producer Hopwood DePree had been told as a boy that an ancestor–who he was named for–had left his family’s English castle in the 1700s to come to America. One night after some wine and a visit to Ancestry.com, Hopwood discovered a photograph of a magnificent English estate with a familiar name: Hopwood Hall, a 60-room, 600-year-old grand manor on 5,000 acres. And with that, Hopwood DePree’s life took an almost fairytale turn.
Hopwood Hall, in northwest England, was indeed his family’s ancestral home. It had been occupied continuously by the Hopwood family for five centuries until the last remaining male heirs were killed in World War I. Since then, the Hall had fallen gradually into disrepair and was close to collapse. When Hopwood visited, he discovered trees growing in the chimneys, holes in the roof, and water sluicing down walls. It would take many millions to save the Hall–millions that Hopwood certainly didn’t have–but despite the fact that he lived in Los Angeles and had no construction skills, Hopwood DePree came to a conclusion: He would save Hopwood Hall.
Downton Shabby–the name Hopwood coined for the glorious ruin–traces Hopwood DePree’s adventures as he gives up his life in Hollywood and moves permanently to England to save Hopwood Hall from ruin. But the task is far too big for one person, of course. Hopwood discovers that the Hall comes with an unforgettable cast of new neighbors he can call on for help–from the electrician whose mum had fond memories of working at the Hall to gruff caretaker Bob, and the local aristocrats who (sort of) come to accept Hopwood as one of their own. Together, as they navigate the trials and triumphs of trying to save an actual castle, Hopwood finds himself ever further from the security of his old life, but comes to realize that, actually, he’s never been closer to home.
I am over half way through the audiobook currently and I feel so invested in the story and the restoration of this castle! I started watching the videos on You-Tube and have started considering becoming a part of the Patreon for the castle restoration. I can’t recommend checking it out enough!
Here are a few links if you are interested in learning more or becoming involved in the restoration of the castle: