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A luxurious seven-bedroom home in rural Suffolk is on sale for £2m that was once owned by two of Britain’s most notorious gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. .
But alongside its ornate stained-glass interior windows, shaker-style kitchen and expansive grounds, The Brooks in Bildeston, Suffolk, was once believed to hold a dark secret.
The property was raided by police who at one time thought that the bodies of some of Ronnie and Reggie’s gangland rivals could have been buried in its six acres of grounds.
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Inspired by fond memories of having been evacuated to the Suffolk countryside during the Blitz, the brothers bought The Brooks in 1967, for what was then the princely sum of £11,000.
Ronnie remarked at the time how he liked “the quietness, the peacefulness of it, the fresh air, nice scenery, nice countryside – different from London.
As well as the huge house, the twins also splashed out on a picturesque close to the post office in the nearby village as a retirement home for their parents Charlie and Violet.
Ronnie always maintained that their Suffolk hideaway had nothing to do with their criminal activities, and that they kept it separate from their lives as East End gang bosses.
But, he conceded, at least a few of the locals still knew all about the brothers’ reputation for murder and mayhem.
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"Some of them did” Ronnie once said. “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."
But the twins’ country idyll was short-lived. A year after they bought The Brooks, Detective Chief Superintendent Leonard "Nipper" Read of Scotland Yard finally pounced.
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Based on evidence painstakingly collected over several years, the pair were arrested on May 8, 1968.
They were eventually convicted of the murders of George Cornell and Jack "the Hat" McVitie, after a sensational trial that saw seats in the Old Bailey’s public gallery being sold on the black market for £5 (over £110 in today’s money).
Justice Melford Stevenson told the twins "In my view, society has earned a rest from your activities” and sent them down for life, fixing a minimum term of 30 years.
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With no prospect of ever walking in its luxurious grounds again, the brothers sold The Brooks the same year,, with Ronnie wryly noting that they had put it on the market "cos we was inside and there was no point keeping it on".
The current owner has made the same decision – although for very different reasons, and the beautiful family home is back on the market.
It was initially offered for sale in July, with a suggested price of £2.25m, but six months later RightMove are now listing The Brooks for £2m.
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The estate agents say that The Brooks is situated in an incredible 6-acre setting but is also very close to the local village high street.
“Believed to date back to the 16th-century then having been extended and gentrified in the early 18th-century with later Victorian alterations,” say RightMove, “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”.
The listing also includes details of the nearby Crown Hotel & Restaurant, and the village store which doubles as a post office and off-license.
Ronnie recalled how the area is also well served for quiet country pubs: "We used to go to the local inns there and have a drink…" he said "…or have a sandwich".
But one detail missing from the expansive – and very tempting – property listing is any mention of the notorious gangland figures who used it as a temporary escape from their violent day-job.
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