Notorious gangster Kray twins’ mansion on sale for £2.25m for first time in 30 years

A country mansion which used to be owned by the notorious Kray twins has come up for sale for the first time in 30 years.

East End crime bosses Ronnie and Reggie purchased The Brooks in Bildeston near Hadleigh, Suffolk as a rural retreat for just £11,000 in 1967.

The pair fell in love with Suffolk as children after they were evacuated to the market town of Hadleigh during World War Two.

The infamous gangsters vowed to one day return and buy a house in the same area.

The luxury three-storey property is now on sale for £2.25 million.

Estate agents describe the 6.4-acre grounds as “tranquil” despite the fact that police once dug up the garden looking for bodies.

The brothers stayed regularly at the house, just off the High Street in Bildeston, and were at The Brooks on the weekend before they and 15 members of their gang were arrested in May 1968.

Villagers recall how police searched the property and even dug up part of the garden in a search for bodies in the following days.

The property dates back to the 16th century with 18th century extensions and Victorian alterations, estate agents Bedfords said.

They described the house as an “exceptional unlisted period house of elegant proportions and versatile accommodation”.

The massive listing includes a separate cottage and “an enormous range of high-quality outbuildings” providing a studio, gym, office complex and an open plan games/party room.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were notorious for their brutal East End crime empire which engaged in murder, armed robberies, protection rackets and assaults.

The twins both received life sentences in 1969 when police swooped on the gang, just days after they had been enjoying a pleasant break at their Suffolk mansion.

Ronnie was convicted of the murder of fellow gangster George Cornell who was shot dead in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel in 1966 and Reggie convicted of the murder of Jack “The Hat” McVitie in 1967.

Ronnie recalled how he and Reggie enjoyed carefree childhood days as evacuees in Suffolk in a 1989 interview with author Robin McGibbon.

He revealed how they went tobogganing, scrumped for apples and played cowboys and Indians while billeted at East House Lodge, Hadleigh, with a woman called Mrs Styles.

Ronnie added in a taped interview: “It was the first time we ever went to the county and we got to like the country.”

He recalled: “The quietness, the peacefulness of it, the fresh air, nice scenery, nice countryside – different from London.”

The twins returned to their family home in Bethnal Green after two years in the countryside as their mum Violet wanted them to be nearer their grandmother and other relatives.

But the brothers pledged to return and buy a house in Suffolk when they had made enough money.

They were true to their word and splashed out on The Brooks when their crime empire was at its height.

Describing the purchase, Ronnie said: “Later on we was able to buy the mansion and the cottage for 11,000 grand.”

When asked for the date of the purchase, he replied . “Just before we was arrested…It would be worth a million pound today. We had to have it all decorated and redone up.”

The brothers are said to have furnished the house with antiques, sourced from local shops and auctions.

Ronnie insisted they got on “very well” with locals, saying: “We used to go to the local inns there and have a drink; have a sandwich.

“I can’t remember any names. Quiet country inns, we used to go to.”

They are said to have made themselves popular with children, giving donkey rides to local youngsters on a field and handing them money to buy ice-cream.

The brothers also bought a pink cottage near the post office in the village as a second home for their parents Charlie and Violet.

Their father also forged a reputation among locals as a cheery “true Cockney diamond”.

Ronnie described Bildeston as “very peaceful”, and said his brother “also liked it a lot”.

But he insisted they didn’t get involved in any crime while in East Anglia.

Describing local villagers, he said: “They was very nice; friendly, kind, nice people. Very genuine people.”

When asked if the locals knew about their background, he said: “Some of them did. People recognised us from photographs in the paper. Some of them; not all of them.

“It didn’t seem to make any difference to them, anyway. They still liked us. We got on well with them.”

Ronnie revealed that he had and his brother sold the house for £14,000 after they were jailed, saying it was “cos we was inside and there was no point keeping it on.”

It was later reported that the twins wrote to their father from jail in 1970, asking him to donate a collection of gym equipment to Hadleigh’s youth club which was then being run from East House where they had been evacuees.

The agents details for The Brooks say: “The property is graced with considerable natural light and wonderful original features to include large sash windows, picture rails and attractive fireplaces in almost all rooms (including the cloakroom!).”

The 4,200 square feet main house includes a large reception hall with an “attractive staircase” and “ornate stained-glass interior windows”.

Its drawing room has a double aspect, with doors to the south giving access to the gardens and a marble fireplace with wood-burning stove.

The dining room has a “fabulous bay window, with bespoke window seating” with a fireplace flanked by handmade cupboards and shelving and a snug with an open fireplace.

The Aga kitchen has a range of handmade painted shaker-style units with matching display cabinets, solid wood worktops and twin Belfast sink.

There is also a study/hobbies room with a brick floor and an arched window overlooking a walled courtyard and a utility/laundry room with storage units and a door to the gardens.

The landing on the first floor leads to a “triple-aspect principal bedroom”, a main guest bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, and three further bedrooms, served by a large traditional bathroom with ball-and-claw bath and a large walk-in shower.

Two further double bedrooms, sharing a large bathroom, are on the second floor.

Bedfords describe the grounds of the house as “one of the most exceptional settings we have seen for some time”.

The agents say the house is “located centrally within this highly regarded and well-served village, yet somehow providing a mature, rural environment to enjoy the copious levels of wildlife and tranquillity”.

The property details add: “There are a variety of stunning mature trees, to include field maple, oak, willow, walnut and ash, together with an outstanding redwood (believed to be planted by Rev Professor Henslow, mentor to Charles Darwin).

“There are carefully mown pathways through the grounds flanked by areas of rewilding, large lawned areas perfect for family picnics and countless areas of interest for those that wish to disconnect from modern life.

“Closer to the property there are more formal gardens, with orchard and active vegetable gardens, together with an enclosed walled courtyard by the house and further partially walled seating area.”