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Downton Shabby: One American's Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family's English Castle

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HGTV meets Downton Abbey! A ready-for-TV story--with charm and humor in abundance--about a Los Angeles producer who moves to England to save his ancestral castle from ruin. 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 visi HGTV meets Downton Abbey! A ready-for-TV story--with charm and humor in abundance--about a Los Angeles producer who moves to England to save his ancestral castle from ruin. 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 dot 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.


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HGTV meets Downton Abbey! A ready-for-TV story--with charm and humor in abundance--about a Los Angeles producer who moves to England to save his ancestral castle from ruin. 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 visi HGTV meets Downton Abbey! A ready-for-TV story--with charm and humor in abundance--about a Los Angeles producer who moves to England to save his ancestral castle from ruin. 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 dot 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.

30 review for Downton Shabby: One American's Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family's English Castle

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Imagine actually telling people that you're DIY-ing the family castle this summer. Imagine actually telling people that you're DIY-ing the family castle this summer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    This is an easy and entertaining read by an engaging and candid fellow. Have your computer or phone handy so you can Google some of the manor houses he mentions and also follow his journey in rehabbing Hopwood Hall. And also be prepared to check your ancestors to see if by chance you have an estate house in your family history! Thanks to the publisher for the advance digital reading copy. The digital copy also included a few photos, a rarity in advance editions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    ✅Ex-pat memoir ✅England ✅Historic Hall (home) renovation ✅Ancient murder ✅Ghost story I read the first 21 chapters in one sitting. I just could not put it down. I relished following Hopwood through the highs, lows and all of the in-between. It was touching that the locals were so kind and supportive. There is an amazing community there, and they accepted him as one of their own. By the end, I felt like I knew Bob and Geoff personally and wanted to have a brew with them too! I was quite surprised tha ✅Ex-pat memoir ✅England ✅Historic Hall (home) renovation ✅Ancient murder ✅Ghost story I read the first 21 chapters in one sitting. I just could not put it down. I relished following Hopwood through the highs, lows and all of the in-between. It was touching that the locals were so kind and supportive. There is an amazing community there, and they accepted him as one of their own. By the end, I felt like I knew Bob and Geoff personally and wanted to have a brew with them too! I was quite surprised that the not only the locals but also the members of Historic Houses were so welcoming. He was instantly rubbing shoulders with English Aristocrats, and they weren't snooty at all. They appreciated the work he was doing to preserve history. As envious as their lives may seem, what they do to keep their ancestral homes standing is quite daunting, a real job. I didn’t want this book to end. It’s the ultimate cozy, feel-good read, and it’s actually a true story! I hope he’s already begun writing a sequel. I want to hear more about the progress on the Hall as well as any potential updates on children to slide down the bannisters! One suggestion: although you can donate to The Hopwood Foundation, it’s a bit buried with the Hopwood site. Hopwood, you should add a donate page to the website menu as well as a donate button to the home page before publication, so it is more accessible. I have donated and I am sure many other readers will want to as well. I received this book as an ARC, and this is my honest review. Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    OMG, this book was great! Bravo to Hopwood for what he is doing. I think I might have to make a trip to Middleton once the Hall is finished. I actually didn't want the book to end and hope that there are sequels to keep us up on the progress. Thoroughly enjoyable and well-written. OMG, this book was great! Bravo to Hopwood for what he is doing. I think I might have to make a trip to Middleton once the Hall is finished. I actually didn't want the book to end and hope that there are sequels to keep us up on the progress. Thoroughly enjoyable and well-written.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    This was fun. A Hollywood producer finds out that he is the sole surviving family member of a 600 year old mansion in England. Sounds like a bad B-movie, but it really happened. I enjoyed reading the author's adventures in procuring and restoring the decrepit property. I followed his adventures online, and it really added to the story. Would make a great television series. This was fun. A Hollywood producer finds out that he is the sole surviving family member of a 600 year old mansion in England. Sounds like a bad B-movie, but it really happened. I enjoyed reading the author's adventures in procuring and restoring the decrepit property. I followed his adventures online, and it really added to the story. Would make a great television series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    Hopwood DePree's new book, Downton Shabby: One American's Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family's English Castle, caught my eye. Having lived in an older (150 years) home for many years, I was drawn to DePree's book about his restoration - which is a little older at 600 years! How does a Hollywood actor, producer and more end up England, restoring a ruin? It's all in the name. When he was younger, Hopwood went by his middle name. As an adult, he choose to use his given name, as it was memor Hopwood DePree's new book, Downton Shabby: One American's Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family's English Castle, caught my eye. Having lived in an older (150 years) home for many years, I was drawn to DePree's book about his restoration - which is a little older at 600 years! How does a Hollywood actor, producer and more end up England, restoring a ruin? It's all in the name. When he was younger, Hopwood went by his middle name. As an adult, he choose to use his given name, as it was memorable. Whilst researching on genealogical sites, he discovers a past - and the home of his ancestors - in the remains of Hopwood Hall. I quite enjoyed being along for the trip as Hopwood makes connections, makes friends and willingly upends his whole life for Hopwood Hall. His family is just as enthusiastic. As are the supporters of the Hall, who are trying to preserve this historic building. Geoff and Bob are the two core supporters who guide and educate Hopwood on the Hall's past. Their dedication was and is admirable. Hopwood meets many others who are happy to lend a hand. It was fascinating to uncover the historical past of the Hall with Hopwood. The descriptions of the Hall - and included photographs - made me want to come and visit! DePree is enthusiastic and able to laugh at himself. I quite enjoyed his book, but the journey isn't over. Downton Shabby (clever title) was an entertaining, easy read that kept me engaged.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    This was such a fun read! I loved the title's play on "Downton Abbey," as well as the author's sense of humor throughout the book. He keeps the reader engaged, makes the topic (whether history, obscure battles, or home renos) accessible and understandable, and makes me want to learn more--about him and about the estate! I've traveled throughout Great Britain over the years, and so enjoyed conjuring up mental images of the location and cast of characters. The read was particularly relevant as I'm This was such a fun read! I loved the title's play on "Downton Abbey," as well as the author's sense of humor throughout the book. He keeps the reader engaged, makes the topic (whether history, obscure battles, or home renos) accessible and understandable, and makes me want to learn more--about him and about the estate! I've traveled throughout Great Britain over the years, and so enjoyed conjuring up mental images of the location and cast of characters. The read was particularly relevant as I'm in the market to buy my first house; not that I'm able to procure a castle, lol, but it was sure fun to think about as I read! I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    This was an upbeat true story about a guy discovering a massive country manor built in the 1400's in northern UK of his family ancestors, the Hopwoods. Having been abandoned and ransacked for decades, In a moment of madness, he decides he's going to save it and this is his journey which is both amusing, interesting, and sometimes, not surprisingly, tedious. Nice adventure as well as a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever had the fantasy that they might like to restore an old castle. This was an upbeat true story about a guy discovering a massive country manor built in the 1400's in northern UK of his family ancestors, the Hopwoods. Having been abandoned and ransacked for decades, In a moment of madness, he decides he's going to save it and this is his journey which is both amusing, interesting, and sometimes, not surprisingly, tedious. Nice adventure as well as a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever had the fantasy that they might like to restore an old castle.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leila Coppala

    Hopwood DePree accidentally discovers the ancestral "castle" his grandfather used to tell him about actually exists in northern England, and since he and his family were making a trip to France, he decided they should hop across the Channel to check it out. Hopwood Hall, as it is known, has been around for centuries, but the last members of the Hopwood family moved out in the early 1920s. The hall was used for uniform manufacturing during WWII and later by monks, but had been empty since the 199 Hopwood DePree accidentally discovers the ancestral "castle" his grandfather used to tell him about actually exists in northern England, and since he and his family were making a trip to France, he decided they should hop across the Channel to check it out. Hopwood Hall, as it is known, has been around for centuries, but the last members of the Hopwood family moved out in the early 1920s. The hall was used for uniform manufacturing during WWII and later by monks, but had been empty since the 1990s and the target for thieves and vandals, which had left the hall in a bad state of disrepair that was getting worse with every rainstorm. Hopwood becomes enthralled by the history of the hall and of the town council's attempts to keep it from crumbling into rubble. He makes the tough decision to leave his life as a Hollywood producer behind and help spearhead a concerted effort to save Hopwood Hall. This book is a quick and satisfying read. I enjoyed Hopwood's journey both to save the hall and to find more meaning and purpose in his life. The village is full of interesting people who help or hinder Hopwood's efforts. Learning about the history of the hall itself and what it takes to save and restore such a grand structure was fascinating...plus, what a catchy title! I hope to make it over the pond someday to see Hopwood Hall in person.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Great story, but I wish there would've been more pictures! Great story, but I wish there would've been more pictures!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Homerun2

    This is an appealing story of a Hollywood-type 40-something guy who discovers a genealogical link to an old estate in England and winds up uprooting his whole life to spearhead the restoration effort for the old manor house. The author is humorous, smart and humbled by his new setting. He is not afraid to poke fun at himself, nor are the Brits who have already been working on the house for ages. But Hopwood brings enthusiasm, a strong family connection, and some great fund-raising and PR skills t This is an appealing story of a Hollywood-type 40-something guy who discovers a genealogical link to an old estate in England and winds up uprooting his whole life to spearhead the restoration effort for the old manor house. The author is humorous, smart and humbled by his new setting. He is not afraid to poke fun at himself, nor are the Brits who have already been working on the house for ages. But Hopwood brings enthusiasm, a strong family connection, and some great fund-raising and PR skills to the effort and makes all the difference. He undergoes a very basic change, moving from LA and the world of tanning sprays and power lunches to rainy rural England and a totally different culture. There is a lot of humor here, but also some poignant family feelings and a realization of his new life choices. All in all, a fun and worthwhile read. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I won an advanced copy of this book on Goodreads. What a great story to tell! Who thought that a renovation project on a house (although big) could be so interesting but it is. It's not just about fixing up the estate and the grounds but so much more; it is about the history, the people who care for it, and the surrounding community. Hopwood Hall is really rich with history that the author brought out well in this book. I can feel his passion about everything that has happened there and the peop I won an advanced copy of this book on Goodreads. What a great story to tell! Who thought that a renovation project on a house (although big) could be so interesting but it is. It's not just about fixing up the estate and the grounds but so much more; it is about the history, the people who care for it, and the surrounding community. Hopwood Hall is really rich with history that the author brought out well in this book. I can feel his passion about everything that has happened there and the people who walked through its halls. We must all preserve such places for generations to come. It really brought together so many people in the area and I really felt that they truly care for the place. An engaging and entertaining read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Batch

    It’s a fun book and a quick read, but it can be a little infuriating to read that someone who didn’t know about the Battle of Flodden, Lord Byron, or Guy Fawkes gets such a historically significant property. Aside from the sale of his LA home, to me the personal cost to the author - outside of things like grants from historic preservation societies - was kind of glossed over. Surely he must have a good amount of money to take on the project, otherwise why was the offer to take charge of the prop It’s a fun book and a quick read, but it can be a little infuriating to read that someone who didn’t know about the Battle of Flodden, Lord Byron, or Guy Fawkes gets such a historically significant property. Aside from the sale of his LA home, to me the personal cost to the author - outside of things like grants from historic preservation societies - was kind of glossed over. Surely he must have a good amount of money to take on the project, otherwise why was the offer to take charge of the property never given to someone like Geoff who’d had a long-standing personal stake in the house? Was there a purchase price or was the property just handed over? Was there no other (possibly closer) relative who would have wanted to make a claim? Does Hopwood just have enough family money or a lot of savings or something that it’s fine for him to move to England and abandon his career? I was curious, because I’m buying a historic home nowhere near this level and I’m over here worrying about closing costs and floor refinishing and HVAC and in the book it’s just like, the leader of the council asks him to take over the house, or (later) “Guess what? We have electricity now!” or stories about mostly Bob’s labor. As you can guess, I’m deeply interested in British history, so I was jealous of the castle and hobnobbing with Julian Fellowes and the gentry, but there was one cure for the jealousy: reading about how much it costs to renovate a castle like this, and then do upkeep every year (which is why I’d love to know where that money comes from). 500k-600k per year just for upkeep is enough to make me feel all right about not having a historic castle on my hands. And even if Hopwood wasn’t much of a historian prior to the restoration project, I am very happy that the property will not be falling into ruin! It’s possible that there is further information that would be of interest to me, like videos online or a blog or something that I might look into next, but this is just the review of the book, after all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    On the one hand, this is an almost-unbelievable story -- Hopwood connecting to his family histories and discovering a link to a real place and great house in Britain? Being able to use his talents as a Hollywood Producer to start a multi-million dollar restoration? Welcomed into a community and into the aristocracy on the face of family connection alone? -- it feels like a fairy tale. I loved that the fairy tale feel is balanced out by hard work, disappointment, chasing a crazy dream and succeed On the one hand, this is an almost-unbelievable story -- Hopwood connecting to his family histories and discovering a link to a real place and great house in Britain? Being able to use his talents as a Hollywood Producer to start a multi-million dollar restoration? Welcomed into a community and into the aristocracy on the face of family connection alone? -- it feels like a fairy tale. I loved that the fairy tale feel is balanced out by hard work, disappointment, chasing a crazy dream and succeeding (at least in part? at least so far?). I was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes of the great houses and those who love them/ are in service to them. The many community members who make Hopwood's journey possible are also very compelling, and the story is a good one. I also totally love that the origin of this book is the pandemic, and the need to continuously fundraise in order to keep things moving along. On the whole, really enjoyed it, and I want to know what will happen next. I did find myself resenting that a lot of what Hopwood is chasing is going to vault him into another range of privilege solely based on his White, British, Male heritage and his ancestors. His Hollywood lifestyle and connections don't help that feeling. Even while he rallies the community and suffers through painstaking restoration, the ultimate goal seems like life in a British Great House on the upstairs side, and it won't be all his money paying for it. I'm not in a great place right now regarding real estate, so take the sour grapes as a personal feeling and enjoy the book. Advanced Reader's Copy Provided by Edelweiss.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mystic Miraflores

    I'm always on the lookout for a different kind of memoir, and this definitely hit the spot! Hopwood, despite having had a career in Hollywood, is down-to-earth, humorous and self-deprecating. Often, he comes across as a country bumpkin from across the pond, like "The Beverly Hillbillies". So, no wonder the English often make fun of him. Yet, he eventually found acceptance and a heart-warming community. I see his home restoration adventure is on social media, so I will start following him. I hope I'm always on the lookout for a different kind of memoir, and this definitely hit the spot! Hopwood, despite having had a career in Hollywood, is down-to-earth, humorous and self-deprecating. Often, he comes across as a country bumpkin from across the pond, like "The Beverly Hillbillies". So, no wonder the English often make fun of him. Yet, he eventually found acceptance and a heart-warming community. I see his home restoration adventure is on social media, so I will start following him. I hope there will be a Book II in this series, as Hopwood says himself, the restoration will be a VERY LONG process. As a person who is interested in genealogy myself (for both my and my husband's families), I was disappointed that there wasn't any family tree included. Exactly which of Hopwood DuPree's ancestor(s) left Hopwood Hall and when? Where in America did the ancestor end up and how did it come about that a Hopwood founded Hopwood, Pennsylvania? In that case, Lady Susan Hopwood, and the Hopwood family who eventually left the Hall after the death of their sons in WWI, are not actually DePree's ancestors, but his distant cousins. How did Geoff, Bev and the council verify that Hopwood DePree was the real deal? As having been born in a tropical country colonized by Spain in the 16th-17th centuries, I have heard of rumors of a Spanish ancestor. So if I show up in Miraflores, Spain (near Malaga) and see an old castle or manor house, can I claim to have a right to it because of my family name? (Not that I would be interested in doing my own castle DIY, especially after reading Hopwood's book!)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This is a book for people who don’t read much, and if you think that is an insult, you’re wrong. The story of L.A. resident, Hopwood DePree, connecting with his British roots and taking on the intimidating project of restoring ancestral home Hopwood Hall in Northern England has been shared on YouTube, and the popular press. It is a feel-good tale of perseverance and cooperation with a cast of characters that extends from L.A. and Michigan to the villages of Northern England and the owners of the This is a book for people who don’t read much, and if you think that is an insult, you’re wrong. The story of L.A. resident, Hopwood DePree, connecting with his British roots and taking on the intimidating project of restoring ancestral home Hopwood Hall in Northern England has been shared on YouTube, and the popular press. It is a feel-good tale of perseverance and cooperation with a cast of characters that extends from L.A. and Michigan to the villages of Northern England and the owners of the great historic houses of England. Hopwood himself writes his story in a breezy, self-deprecating style, almost like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. He provides a course in basic British vocabulary (jumper for sweater, boot for trunk) and history (Why all those fireworks on November 5th?) If you are a fan of British mysteries or Masterpiece Theater or Downton Abby, you will already know this but it doesn’t slow the story down and taking on the role of “Fish Out of Water” makes Hopwood a very endearing character. This is a story of dreaming big dreams and what can be achieved when people share those dreams. I hope Hopwood keeps us informed as the project moves forward. I bought the book to help fund his efforts. I’ll bet many other readers feel the same way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    If you love all things England, Downton Abbey, Hill House Living and big-hearted adventure...this charming and hilarious memoir is for you! Hopwood DePree's story attracted me immediately. He discovered over a wine-fueled internet deep-dive late one night that he was the heir to a crumbling English castle! For real. Hello!!! One ticket to this romp, please. All I ever discover late night online is that I've added one too many things to my Outnet cart and it's time to get real about my clothing b If you love all things England, Downton Abbey, Hill House Living and big-hearted adventure...this charming and hilarious memoir is for you! Hopwood DePree's story attracted me immediately. He discovered over a wine-fueled internet deep-dive late one night that he was the heir to a crumbling English castle! For real. Hello!!! One ticket to this romp, please. All I ever discover late night online is that I've added one too many things to my Outnet cart and it's time to get real about my clothing budget. And I will admit to wishing once or hundred times that I lived in an English country manor ala Downton Abbey or Pemberley. Paula Sutton's dreamy Instagram, Hill House Living, is my Prozac. But what's it REALY like to find oneself beholden to a stately 600 year old English Hall? When one is not really English anymore? And not aristocracy either? Hopwood is from Hollywood, and he couldn't have been less prepared for what awaited him in Middleton England. This is such a delightful book. Highly recommend for anyone looking for inspiration, a laugh, and a lift.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Hopwood DePree's "Downton Shabby" is an ode to finding your purpose again in the form a decaying, 600 year old mansion a continent and an ocean away. While probably impossible to document the minutia of every detail associated with a seemingly impossible task, DePree takes readers along for a ride where you'll find yourself cheering for him, willing the walls of the crumbling estate to stay in place. The writing is paced enough to keep you interested and relatable in a way that makes you wonder Hopwood DePree's "Downton Shabby" is an ode to finding your purpose again in the form a decaying, 600 year old mansion a continent and an ocean away. While probably impossible to document the minutia of every detail associated with a seemingly impossible task, DePree takes readers along for a ride where you'll find yourself cheering for him, willing the walls of the crumbling estate to stay in place. The writing is paced enough to keep you interested and relatable in a way that makes you wonder if you could take on the task that he did. Heck, i'm hoping to see the Hopwood Estate the next time I'm in England. Thanks to William Morrow and Company and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. #NetGalley #WIlliamMorrow #DowntonShabby

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Arp

    This book ticked all the boxes for me. History, memoir, family ancestry, saving old buildings/structures and beautifully written. I highly suggest this book, if any of those boxes apply to you. If you have ever wondered how the beautiful historical estates of Great Britain are maintained this book is for you. Hopwood takes you from the very start of his journey, research at his then current LA home, through the current pandemic. I can not say to the end of the repairs to a long lost family estate This book ticked all the boxes for me. History, memoir, family ancestry, saving old buildings/structures and beautifully written. I highly suggest this book, if any of those boxes apply to you. If you have ever wondered how the beautiful historical estates of Great Britain are maintained this book is for you. Hopwood takes you from the very start of his journey, research at his then current LA home, through the current pandemic. I can not say to the end of the repairs to a long lost family estate, as it appears this will a project that never ends. Throughout this book there is a beautiful blend of history that includes the ancestors of Hopwood, the surrounding towns and people, the Hopwood estate and how other estates in the surrounding areas were saved and are being preserved.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    American Hopwood DePree discovered that the stories his grandfather told him as a kid were correct, there is an ancestral Hopwood Castle (Hall) in England. Curious and already planning a trip to Europe, Hopwood requested a tour and fell in love with the decades-abandoned building in the English countryside. This is Hopwood's funny and fascinating story of leaving the rat race of Hollywood behind to devote himself to restoring Hopwood Hall. He connects with the wonderful local historian Geoff and American Hopwood DePree discovered that the stories his grandfather told him as a kid were correct, there is an ancestral Hopwood Castle (Hall) in England. Curious and already planning a trip to Europe, Hopwood requested a tour and fell in love with the decades-abandoned building in the English countryside. This is Hopwood's funny and fascinating story of leaving the rat race of Hollywood behind to devote himself to restoring Hopwood Hall. He connects with the wonderful local historian Geoff and building manager Bob as well as many dedicated volunteers in the community, to figure out how to save Hopwood Hall, and why it's a worthy pursuit. Hopwood Hall is still a work in progress, but Depree is in it for the long haul. Highly recommended to anyone intrigued by HGTV.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Chapman

    Loved this charming memoir! An interesting story about a man who, while researching ancestors, finds an estate in England with his last name. This leads to a family trip to see the property which is abandoned and has had only minimal care in the past 50 years or so. Then begins the real story about repairs and renovations on a 500 year old building, which leads to meeting previously unknown family members and other interested parties, and putting together a group for fundraising to save Hopwood Loved this charming memoir! An interesting story about a man who, while researching ancestors, finds an estate in England with his last name. This leads to a family trip to see the property which is abandoned and has had only minimal care in the past 50 years or so. Then begins the real story about repairs and renovations on a 500 year old building, which leads to meeting previously unknown family members and other interested parties, and putting together a group for fundraising to save Hopwood Hall. If you have ever renovated a kitchen or such, you will thoroughly enjoy the details described in this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne Paulson

    Gosh I love a good memoir! I was thrilled when I found this arc in our white box recently. (I work at a small indie bookstore- thank you to the publisher.) So many people dream and romanticize about restoring a grand manor. Depree manages to convey just how incredibly daunting a task that can be while somehow showing the joy in the community and friendships made in the process. Quick and fun read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Monica Jordan

    Thanks to a Goodreads drawing, I received an advance copy of this book. It is not typically something I read, so that made it that much more fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the history of Hopwood Hall and how the author got involved in the massive restoration project. As someone, who loves British history, old houses, and home improvement, this book was right up my alley. It is inspiring and entertaining. I really enjoyed it! #HopwoodDupree

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Hollywood producer Hopwood DuPree discovered his family had connections to a castle after a late night ancestry.com search. After discovering the home is a "fixer-upper," he decides to relocate to England and begin the process of restoring Hopwood Hall as it is known to the locals. This is an engaging story and I particularly enjoyed the passages he described regarding learning the ways of the locals. Hollywood producer Hopwood DuPree discovered his family had connections to a castle after a late night ancestry.com search. After discovering the home is a "fixer-upper," he decides to relocate to England and begin the process of restoring Hopwood Hall as it is known to the locals. This is an engaging story and I particularly enjoyed the passages he described regarding learning the ways of the locals.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jack Charles Smith

    Such a fun read! I enjoyed this so much I read it in one day. What an interesting person Hopwood is. Thoroughly enjoyed his reminisce of finding out his grandpa's stories of a family castle back in England were true, visiting the castle and then investing his life into its restoration with the volunteer work of townfolk. Beautiful story, well written and fun to read. I laughed out load throughout the book! Such a fun read! I enjoyed this so much I read it in one day. What an interesting person Hopwood is. Thoroughly enjoyed his reminisce of finding out his grandpa's stories of a family castle back in England were true, visiting the castle and then investing his life into its restoration with the volunteer work of townfolk. Beautiful story, well written and fun to read. I laughed out load throughout the book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julie Uiterwijk

    I whipped through this book during my Covid isolation. It's a fun read for those of us who enjoy stories about Americans who move to Europe and take on house renovation projects. Hopwood DePree is charming and warm-hearted, and he paints a clear picture of the characters he befriends along the way from aristocrats to gas station attendants. He has a YouTube series that I watched while reading the book. His project is far from over so perhaps he will put out volume 2! I whipped through this book during my Covid isolation. It's a fun read for those of us who enjoy stories about Americans who move to Europe and take on house renovation projects. Hopwood DePree is charming and warm-hearted, and he paints a clear picture of the characters he befriends along the way from aristocrats to gas station attendants. He has a YouTube series that I watched while reading the book. His project is far from over so perhaps he will put out volume 2!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janis

    A light read about a Hollywood producer who discovers his family has ancient ties in England – and to a decaying estate once held by an ancestor. He becomes increasingly involved in its repair and in the people who have worked hard to maintain it as best they can. Not everything gets wrapped up in a neat bow, but this is a charmer that had me rooting for the author, his friends, and Hopwood Hall.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brandee

    I was enchanted by this story of a man learning about an ancestral home he thought was just a fanciful story told by a loving grandfather. I loved seeing the photographs interspersed between the chapters and meeting all the unforgettable characters he met along the way. I hope to here further updates about this magnificent home.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patti Wilson

    Bravo! To hear the excitement, frustration, and appreciation pour from the author's words made me feel included through this amazing journey. Going from a genealogical research to an actual family home circa 600 years old is a once in a lifetime story. I hope a picture book of the adventures will follow. Bravo! To hear the excitement, frustration, and appreciation pour from the author's words made me feel included through this amazing journey. Going from a genealogical research to an actual family home circa 600 years old is a once in a lifetime story. I hope a picture book of the adventures will follow.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim Dolce

    This was a great read! The author gave up life in L.A. and Hollywood to restore his family's ancestral home in England. The fact that he knew nothing about English customs and culture added some humor to the story. The author's hard work and determination was rewarded with a restored family home that will hopefully last for many generations to come. This was a great read! The author gave up life in L.A. and Hollywood to restore his family's ancestral home in England. The fact that he knew nothing about English customs and culture added some humor to the story. The author's hard work and determination was rewarded with a restored family home that will hopefully last for many generations to come.

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