Warwickshire estate owned by playboy publisher Felix on market for £4m

Warwickshire estate owned by playboy publisher Felix Dennis during his 1980s hedonistic heyday – with a swimming pool in the lounge but only two bedrooms – goes on the market for £4million

  • Controversial publisher Felix Dennis’ estate in Dorsington, Warwickshire, is on the market again for £4million 
  • Inspired by Treasure Island, the barn disguises a pirate pool with palm trees, a crow’s nest and a fish tank wall
  • Built at a cost of of £5million to Mr Dennis, the 12,185 square foot home is now on sale for a discounted price

An eccentric ‘Treasure Island’ inspired home built by the late media mogul Felix Dennis has gone on the market for £4million – with the entire house centring around a pirate-themed swimming pool and palm trees. 

While it may appear to be a ‘normal’ barn conversion from the outside, the playboy’s former property in Dorsington, Warwickshire, is far from what you might expect inside. 

Entering the traditional tithe barn visitors are met with the large open-plan pirate-themed playroom, complete with a pool and jacuzzi, a crow’s nest with a ship’s wheel, a fish tank wall, and a shipwrecked boat.

From the pool the large living space branches off into two wings, where the property’s two bedrooms are, along with a solarium, sauna, steam room, and open gallery.

Highfield was ‘built as a modern twenty-first century folly’ by the maverick publisher Mr Dennis – who had a passion for both Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and tithe barns and combined them in this property.

Built at a cost of of £5million to Mr Dennis, the 12,185 square foot home is now on sale for the discounted price of £4million.

While it may appear to be a ‘normal’ barn conversion from the outside the property is far from it, with the home’s extensive living rooms all branching off from the main pool area

The home centres around a playground-style barn with a pool and palm trees. Mr Dennis, who commissioned the property, was one of the founders of 1960s counter-culture magazine Oz

Here the living room sofas can be seen in close proximity to the pool. Mr Dennis was jailed for nine months after being found guilty of obscenity in 1971 before being cleared on appeal – before moving to Highfield in 1987

Inside the green oak structure, which was the largest of its kind when it was built in 1987, Mr Dennis created a communal playroom for the home’s residents, with two additional wings tied to the main barn with practical living space. 

The home also comes with an additional two cottages, both two-bedroom – making up for the small number of bedrooms in the main house.

Below ground the basement houses an authentic Art Deco inspired cinema, bar and entertainment area as well as a control room and an underground parking area with a car turntable.  

Dennis, who divided his time between homes in Warwickshire, London, New York, Connecticut and the Caribbean island of Mustique, claimed to have become rich by ‘accident’. The exterior of Highfield 

Inspired by former publisher Felix Dennis’ love for Treasure Island, the farmyard barn building disguises a pirate-themed playland with a ship

The colourful provocateur, who went jail in the 1970s, left instructions that the bulk of his £500million fortune should go to the upkeep of a forest he planted near his home

Below ground the basement houses an authentic Art Deco inspired cinema, bar and entertainment area

The basement also holds a control room and an underground parking area with a car turntable. Pictured: The cinema 

Highfields has private access to the Heart of England Forest which covers 7,000 acres of ancient and new woodland with 1.8 million new trees plant in recent years – which was started by Mr Dennis

The colourful provocateur, who went jail in the 1970s, left instructions that the bulk of his £500million fortune should go to the upkeep of a forest he planted near his home. 

Highfields has private access to the Heart of England Forest which covers 7,000 acres of ancient and new woodland with 1.8 million new trees plant in recent years – which was started by Mr Dennis.

The property also boasts 4.2 acres of private garden. 

Despite its quirkiness the property is fitted out to ‘an exceptional standard by skilled craftsmen using the finest materials’

It also features a nautical themed bedroom in the south wing, complete with a four-poster bed with two ship figureheads at the end

Mr Dennis described himself as a ‘coked-up, overweight, cigarette- smoking, malt-whisky swilling idiot with too much money’. Pictured: A pirate figure within the house

Despite its quirkiness the property is fitted out to ‘an exceptional standard by skilled craftsmen using the finest materials, such as Verona Italian marble and Lincoln sandstone, to create an architectural adventure’, writes Savills who are marketing the property.

The home features handcrafted mosaic designs in the pool and a clay mythical dragon on the main ridge.

It also features a nautical themed bedroom in the south wing, complete with a four-poster bed with two ship figureheads at the end.

Who was Felix Dennis? Multi-millionaire founder of Dennis Publishing ‘who spent $100m on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’

Notorious: Felix Dennis, with porn star Cathy Barry at a London party, spent $100million on ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’

Felix Dennis was a maverick publisher who said he spent $100million on ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ in his riotous life.  

The late Mr Dennis died of throat cancer in 2014 at the age of 67. 

The businessman was one of the founders of 1960s counter-culture magazine Oz and was jailed for nine months after being found guilty of obscenity in 1971 before being cleared on appeal. 

He went on to make his £500million fortune through Dennis Publishing, the magazine stable behind Maxim and The Week and proudly admitted spending a huge chunk of his fortune on women and drugs.

As a younger man he had a passion for ‘five-in-a bed’ romps with some of the ’14 mistresses’ kept on hxis company’s payroll, as well as a crack cocaine habit that alone saw him squander £50million.

He also described himself as a ‘coked-up, overweight, cigarette- smoking, malt-whisky swilling idiot with too much money’. 

But after he was warned he faced ‘a one way ticket to jail or the morgue’ he gave up crack cocaine and became a poet.  

Dennis, who divided his time between homes in Warwickshire, London, New York, Connecticut and the Caribbean island of Mustique, claimed to have become rich by ‘accident’ and listed his other interests as ‘planting trees, commissioning bronze sculpture, drinking French wine and avoiding business meetings’.   

Dennis’s approach to life included spending an estimated $100 million on what he described as ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ and becoming the first person to say c*** on British television. 

His foul-mouthed first came during an episode of The David Frost Programme which included a lengthy interview with a group of hippies. 

Fame: Mr Dennis, centre, with James Anderson, right, and Richard Neville, left, outside court at the obscenity trial of their magazine, Oz, in 1971. Felix was jailed for nine months but then cleared on appeal

He later said his mother refused to speak to him for three years afterwards. 

Dennis grew up in the London suburbs and went to Harrow College of Art but left to play in a series of bands which flopped but served as his introduction to the capital’s counter-culture.

Outlandish: Mr Dennis was known for a love of swearing and listed his interests as ‘planting trees and drinking wine’

His involvement with Oz saw him stand trial charged with conspiracy to corrupt public morals after a special issue included a pornographic version of Rupert the Bear.

The trial was a sensation and make Dennis and his fellow defendants famous. They were defended by lawyer and novelist John Mortimer and eventually acquitted on appeal.

The son of a part-time jazz pianist who ran a tobacconist’s shop, his father abandoned the family when Dennis was barely two.

For a time he, his mother and brother lived in his grandparents’ tiny terrace house in Thames Ditton, not far from his birthplace in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey, a place with ‘no electricity, no indoor lavatory or bathroom … no electric light, but gas and candles’. 

In spite of this uncertain start, Dennis was determined to be rich.

He admitted to being ‘insolent, arrogant and frightening’ in his pursuit of money, and in 1968 that led him to the door of Richard Neville and his fledgling magazine Oz.

Then 21, Dennis started selling the magazine on the King’s Road in West London, often with the help of pretty young girls in mini-skirts, and suddenly found himself making as much as £100 a day.

‘Nobody I knew had ever earned £100 in a fortnight,’ he said.

But in 1971 came the obscenity trial, and with it notoriety and a prison sentence. 

After he was cleared he experimented with publishing comics, but that quickly gave way to selling posters and a magazine celebrating the martial-arts star Bruce Lee, which later became Kung Fu Monthly. Dennis and a friend also wrote a biography of Lee.

Bruce Lee’s sudden death in 1973 saw the magazine’s circulation shoot up incredibly. It ran for nine years, was printed in 11 countries.

By 1974 his company was making £5,000 a day – and he had £60,000 in the bank.

Entrepreneur: Felix Dennis was brought up by a penniless single mother and went on to make £500million

Within two years he began producing magazines for personal computer users and bought the fledgling magazine Personal Computer Weekly.

Just four years later, in 1982 – after selling his stable of IT magazines for ‘a shed load of money’, he was a multi-millionaire, at 35.

Success went to his head. ‘In a single decade I got through £50 million,’ and described himself as a ‘crack connoisseur’ but after he was warned he faced a ‘one way ticket to jail or the morgue’ he gave up drugs.

He said: ‘It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done and I have been a far, far happier man ever since, and probably a nicer man’. 

After launching Maxim and making even more money he became a published poet following a life-threatening illness and embarked on a series of book tours and sponsored a prominent poetry prize. 

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