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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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    ‘I grew up in a bombsite, now I live in a four-bed house made entirely of oak’

    Iconic Scottish actor James Cosmo, 76, has starred in a number of memorable movies, including Trainspotting, Braveheart and Highlander.

    Away from the silver screen he’s put in scene-stealing performances within the likes of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials.

    Apart from acting, James is an avid cook and fly-fisher, and launched Storyman, his own brand of whisky, earlier this yr.

    He lives along with his wife, Annie, and their two sons near Weybridge in Surrey.

    The enduring Scottish actor has starred in a number of memorable movies, including as Campbell in Braveheart (1995)

    What attracted you to your current home?

    My wife Annie loves taking a look at those property programmes, Escape to the Country or whatever. I can’t stand them, but there you go.

    Anyway, about 18 years ago, she was looking around and located this place, which had only been built 4 years before.

    It’s made almost entirely from green oak, put along with joists, and it’s very beautiful. It’s built the other way up, with the 4 bedrooms on the bottom floor and the kitchen and living spaces upstairs.

    It has glass between the beams, which allows much more light, and it has stunning views of the woods. Although now we have neighbours inside shouting distance, it feels secluded.

    James Cosmo house

    James’s home is ‘built the other way up’, with the 4 bedrooms on the bottom floor, and kitchen and living spaces upstairs

    Credit: Andrew Crowley

    Is your private home harking back to if you were brought up?

    By no means. I used to be brought up in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, where we lived in tenement blocks – allowing for I used to be born just two years after the war had ended. The Germans had bombed the hell out of the world and the bombsites were our playgrounds. 

    What’s your favourite room?

    I’m making a man cave in the meanwhile, which can find yourself being my favourite room. I’ve got to burn a load of junk, which should take 24 hours, after which I’ll put down a floor. I’m still trying to come to a decision what it’s going to be.

    I considered a workshop, but given the closest I’ve got to manual work is hitting something with a pickaxe, that’s probably not the most effective idea.

    I’ll turn it right into a fishing barn, as I’ve got a whole bunch of rods and equipment, however the most important thing for me is to have a quiet space, where there are not any electronics.

    The Surrey-based home is made almost entirely from green oak, put along with joists

    What’s been your biggest home improvement project?

    We prolonged our home on the side, with the largest challenge being the foundations.

    You see, now we have a stunning, very ancient oak tree just on the front of the drive that’s quite rightly covered by a preservation order. This meant we couldn’t dig foundations in the same old trench manner.

    So, we had a few weeks of those pile drivers smashing great holes, which were full of concrete. It was pretty expensive to get that done, however it meant the bespoke brick work across the ground floor, which had come from Holland, could possibly be laid.

    The brickies did a fantastic job, and it looks lovely.


    ‘We live in a stunning village with delightful neighbours, and I’m only 20 minutes away from a mainline train station’

    Credit: Andrew Crowley

    What’s your most treasured possession?

    I even have a locket with a lock of my mum’s hair in it. I’d say that’s probably the most precious thing, followed by my great-grandfather’s pocket watch and chain.

    I like to have a look at it every now and then, and think that over 150 years ago it was worn by some gentleman. Although he won’t have been a gentleman – in my family that’s unlikely!

    Where would you reside if you happen to had to maneuver?

    We live in a stunning village with delightful neighbours and I’m only 20 minutes away from a mainline train station so I can get into London in an hour.

    But, if I personally had to decide on, and my boys had left home, I believe I’d live within the Scottish Borders. It’s a hidden gem, and I adore it.

    ‘If I could decide to live anywhere, it might be the Scottish Borders – I adore it’

    How do you chill out at home?

    I even have the woods on the back, and my dog, so I like going on the market with him. I do lots of fly-fishing in the summertime.

    We had raised beds made this yr and grew some vegetables, including some very interesting-looking carrots, which can be hard to discover as carrots, but that’s what it said on the packet!

    Last yr I planted buckets of potatoes and spent weeks watering them and so they looked magnificent after they got here into bloom. Sadly, they only produced marble-sized potatoes. I didn’t plant them this yr because we’re quite near Waitrose and so they do superb potatoes.

    What are you working on now?

    I’ve just come back from filming a Celtic thriller called The Morrigan in Northern Ireland. It was quite arduous because there have been lots of night shoots, but I used to be incredibly impressed by Belfast and much more so by the heat of the people.

    Apart from that, my whisky Storyman launched this yr, and it’s doing rather well. We’ve come out on top of blind tastings which have featured bottles costing thrice as much. It’s a stunning whisky and we’re planning to distribute it in China and the US.

    James Cosmo’s Storyman whisky costs £55 and is out there at storymanwhisky.com.

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