Keith Richards’ Redlands
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Keith’s legendary country home in West Wittering, Sussex, England, which he bought in early 1966 for £20,000. The house was built in the 15th century, with a moat around it. A few months after he purchased Redlands, Keith bought the cottage across the road for an additional £5,000. In 1968, the Stones recorded at Redlands songs like “Still a Fool,” “Hold On, I’m Coming,” and “Rock Me Baby” (all of which remain unreleased) with Jimmy Miller producing, and Glyn Johns engineering. The house was badly damaged in a fire in July of 1973, and then again in mid-1982, but Keith wasn’t home at the time of the second fire.
Coincidentally, Redlands was also the name Keith and Anita registered under at the Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto in 1977, making that name—after Keith’s—one of the most famous drug busts in Stones’ history. In his autobiography Life, Keith describes purchasing the property in 1966: “We just spoke to each other the minute we saw each other. A thatched house, quite small, surrounded by a moat. I drove up there by mistake…I took a wrong turn and turned into Redlands. This guy walked out, very nice guy, and said, yeah? And I said, oh sorry, we’ve come to the wrong turning. He said, yes, you want to go Fishbourne way, and he said, are you looking for a house to buy? He was very pukka, an ex-commodore of the Royal Navy. And I said yes”
From Sussex Live:
The Chichester Harbour village of West Wittering is a well-known haunt for celebrities. From Kate Winslet to Michael Ball, a whole host of global stars have been enchanted by the tiny West Sussex village.
And who can blame them? Residents have the luxury of incredible views over the harbour and towards the Isle of Wight, while it also has one of the only sandy beaches on offer in Sussex.
One such person who fell in love with West Wittering is The Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards, who purchased the infamous Redlands Cottage in 1966. In his autobiography he describes coming across a “small thatched cottage” after making a wrong turn.
After the owner (who is described as a “very pukka ex-commodore in the Royal Navy”) came out to speak to Richards, he asked whether he was looking for a house to buy. Just months after purchasing the 13th century cottage for £20,000, it became the centre of a national scandal that saw Richards and Jagger sentenced to four months in prison.
It was a pivotal moment of the 1960s and one which reverberated throughout the music industry, the press, and British drug culture. “To some it is a defining moment in history, the point at which a moribund establishment started to disintegrate. To others, the Rolling Stones drugs trial was another nail in the coffin of old-fashioned British values,” wrote Anthony Barnes in the Independent.
Jagger and Richards were both caught after a raid on the cottage, but a massive publicity campaign was launched by their music industry colleagues to support them and criticise their prosecution. They were even backed by William Rees-Mogg (yes, Jacob’s father), then-editor of The Times, who broke from his traditionally conservative standpoint and staunchly defended the Stones with the now-famous op-ed Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?
No arrests were made at the time, but Jagger and Richards were later charged with drug offences. When they arrived at the house, police believed that Jagger, Richards and Faithfull were all coming down from an all-day acid trip.
In his autobiography, Richards later described his perspective of the raid: “There’s a knock on the door, I look out the window, and there’s this whole lot of dwarves outside … I’d never been busted before, and I’m still on acid.” The police did not find much sign of illegal activity: a few roaches, some amphetamine pills from Jagger’s Italian supplier, and a small quantity of heroin.
Originally charged at Chichester Magistrates’ Court on 10 May, Jagger and Richards pled not guilty and took up their right to a trial by jury. The case was heard at Chichester Crown Court where the pair were charged, and then taken to Lewes Prison to await sentencing.
On June 29, 1967, Jagger was fined £200 fine and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for possession of four amphetamine tablets. Richards was found guilty of allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property and sentenced to one year in prison and a £500 fine.
Both Jagger and Richards were imprisoned at that point: Jagger was taken to Brixton Prison in south London, and Richards to Wormwood Scrubs Prison in west London. A month later on appeal, Richards’ sentence was overturned and Jagger’s was amended to a conditional discharge (although he ended up spending one night inside London’s Brixton Prison).
Richards spent a night in jail and said that other inmates treated him respectfully. “The judge managed to turn me into some folk hero overnight”, Richards said later, “I’ve been playing up to it ever since.”
After Keith’s hectic period in Redlands during the heyday of The Rolling Stones, he now uses it as a retreat for when he returns to Britain. And despite his hectic antics after buying the house, he has been hellbent on preserving his peace near his home.
In 2002 he hit out at West Sussex County Council over ramblers using a pathway that ventured just 11 yards from the cottage. He proposed moving the footpath to the other side of the field, but a report from the Independent said planning officers had already recommended that the proposals be rejected.
He was also among a whole host of West Wittering residents in 2016 who opposed plans for a £1.5m new cafe to be built on the beachfront. In a letter to planning authorities he wrote: “The second-storey restaurant overlooks and is visible from the sea and beach. It spoils the natural beauty and seclusion of the beach. It dominates the area and degrades its character.
“The restaurant threatens the environment and locals. It cannot be allowed.”
Richards owns the West Sussex estate, along with a home in Weston, Connecticut and a private resort island of Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He primarily lives in Weston with his family.
He is an avid reader and owns an extensive library. He takes a specific interest in history, and a Times article in 2010 revealed that Richards yearns to be a librarian.
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