Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Give us our prehistoric stone circle back, James Corden!

Give us our prehistoric stone circle back, James Corden! Politicians in Jersey ask chat show host to return monument that was moved to the back garden of his £8.5m Berkshire home in 1788

  • Chat show host James Corden has a prehistoric stone circle in his back garden
  • Neolithic dolmen was removed from St Helier in 1788 as gift to Army commander
  • But now Jersey’s government has asked Corden to return the stones left in his £8.5 million Berkshire home
  • The stones are Grade II listed and would need council approval to be moved 

James Corden has found himself at the centre of an Elgin Marbles-style debate about a prehistoric stone circle in his back garden.

Politicians in Jersey are calling for the chat show host to remove the ancient monument from the grounds of his £8.5 million Berkshire home and send it back to the Channel Island where it originally stood.

The Neolithic dolmen, or Druids’ temple, that now sits in their 43-acre estate was removed from St Helier in 1788.

But, unlike the sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens, the stones were freely given to Field Marshal Henry Seymour Conway, who shipped them to England.

Politicians in Jersey are calling for chat show host James Corden (pictured with wife Julia Carey) to remove the ancient monument from the grounds of his £8.5 million Berkshire home and send it back to the Channel Island where it originally stood

As commander-in-chief of British forces and governor of Jersey, he was given the Mont de la Ville stones in thanks for erecting a series of defensive towers to prevent a French invasion.

But now Jersey’s government is to ask Corden and his wife Julia Carey for the return of the stones, after a lobbying campaign from island residents.

Deputy Kirsten Morel, the island’s culture minister, told the Jersey Evening Post: ‘This is not a situation like the Elgin Marbles because the dolmen was a gift from Jersey, so there is no argument for having it back as a matter of principle. It would be a lovely idea but there is a long way to go.’

Sources close to 42-year-old Corden say he is yet to be officially approached by the Jersey government. As the stones are Grade II listed, it is believed he would have no say over what happens to them.

The monument, thought to be a burial chamber or religious shrine, consists of a covered passage leading to a circular unroofed chamber with a number of cists, or small coffin-like boxes around the edge.

The Neolithic dolmen, or Druids’ temple, that now sits in their 43-acre estate was removed from St Helier in 1788. But, unlike the sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens, the stones were freely given to Field Marshal Henry Seymour Conway, who shipped them to England

Such circles are widespread across Jersey and in the 18th Century were believed to have been the home of spirits and fairies. When interest in mythology later waned, many were broken up and used as building materials.

If the Cordens’ stones are to be handed back they could be displayed at Fort Regent near the island’s capital. Mr Corden’s local council, Wokingham, would also have to grant planning permission for the removal.

Mr Corden and Ms Carey bought their estate, near Henley-on-Thames, last December after wanting more space for their family than their previous home in Belsize Park, North London, could afford.

The sprawling estate close to the River Thames is based around a modern five-bedroom house.

It had been on the market since 2017, and also boasts an indoor swimming pool with two changing rooms, an outdoor tennis court and a self-contained gate lodge with two bedrooms.

Sources close to 42-year-old Corden say he is yet to be officially approached by the Jersey government. As the stones are Grade II listed, it is believed he would have no say over what happens to them

The property is close to other A-list celebrities, with neighbours including Orlando Bloom, Russell Brand and George and Amal Clooney, who live in nearby Sonning. It is also just 20 miles from High Wycombe, where Mr Corden grew up.

Mr Corden and his wife, who married in a star-studded ceremony at Babington House in Somerset in 2012, spend much of their time in a £7.5 million mansion in Los Angeles with children Max, ten, Carey, six, and Charlotte, three.

The star left the UK in 2015 after signing a lucrative deal to host The Late Late Show on the CBS network and recently hosted the Friends sitcom reunion.

The Cordens recently sold their five-storey Belsize Park home for £6 million – twice the amount they paid for it in 2010 with earnings from the hit TV comedy Gavin And Stacey.

Sources close to the star say that despite buying the estate, he has no current plans to return to Britain.

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