Reverend Richard Coles is set to move into a picturesque cottage worth £950,000 in a Sussex village

Reverend Richard Coles is set to move into a picturesque cottage worth £950,000 in a Sussex village

And MailOnline can reveal that it is to this stunning flint cottage worth £950,000 in a fashionable village in Sussex to be close to his friend and former manager.

In a long and thoughtful explanation about his decision to retire, the 60-year-old told how he had not thought of leaving his Northamptonshire congregation, that he has served for the past ten years, until he realised he needed to move on from the death of husband David.

Coles lost his civil partner and fellow clergyman David in December 2019. He died at 42 following a protracted battle with alcohol in December 2019 and is understood to have become even closer to his former manager Lorna Gradden since.

Gradden suggested he use the pension pot she had encouraged him to start up years earlier to move close to her home in a pretty Sussex village close to Beachy Head.

He is understood to have spent time with her in Sussex since then and Lorna accompanied him home to the vicarage in Finedon after David’s funeral when, in his words, grief flowed up from within him ‘like lava’. Soon the pair will be living in the same village.

He wrote in the Sunday Times: ‘The former manager [Lorna Gradden] came again to the rescue, with a proposal that I move to the village where she lives to a house at the end of her lane that had just come up for sale.

‘And so on Low Sunday [24th April], the first after the high and holy celebration of Easter, I retire.

‘In May I start a new life in what looks like Tilling from the Mapp and Lucia novels.

‘I’ll be living in a charming 18th century cottage with a bow window that looms over the street affording a privileged view of my neighbours’ comings and goings, as the scent of lavender floats across the village green.’

Nestled in a valley of the South Downs National Park, his new home is in an archetypical English village.

A popular and busy pub, holds pride of place on the roughly moved village green, where children and pet dogs roll around on the grass.

A high-class delicatessen competes with a nearby Waitrose supermarket to provide groceries for the well-fed residents.

Celebrity artist Grayson Perry lives nearby as does Bafta award winning actress Gina McKee.

Today as builders put the finishing touches to renovation of Reverend’s new home, villagers welcomed the broadcaster’s imminent arrival.

One told MailOnline: ‘Richard Coles is moving in, but not yet. I have seen him around. He seems an awfully nice chap. He will be most welcome.’

Another added: ‘Yes, I’ve heard that Richard Coles is moving here. But I’m not that interested in village gossip. You’d be better to talk to my wife.’

The former Communard, who had a number one eighties hit with Don’t Leave Me This Way, says that despite all the benefits of his new home, he will miss his old life.

He wrote: ‘After Easter I will no longer be vicar. I will leave the vicarage and the parish and go south, to a pretty little English village between the Downs and the sea, with a farmers’ and an ancient church, an old bake house, a village green, where the locals gather over a pint of locally brewed ale to reminisce about their Baftas.

‘That is all splendid, and lucky me, but the move is not without anxiety.

‘Not so much about where I’m going – there is a bus every ten minutes with free WIFI that stops outside Waitrose – but about what I leave behind.’

However with the South Downs Way walking path running past his new front door, many village fetes, art competitions and music events to attend, the retired Reverend Coles will have plenty to keep him busy.

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