The ‘real JR Hartley’s’ mansion goes up for sale for £2million

A seven-bedroom house is for sale owned by the late author behind the ‘spoof’ memoir ‘Fly Fishing.’

He was the author who really did write ‘Fly Fishing’ by JR Hartley, made famous in the Yellow Pages ads of the 1980s.

The late Michael Russell, who died, aged 86, earlier this year, lived in Wilby Hall, tucked away south of Norwich, near Attleborough, now for sale.

Few people know about Wilby Hall, situated in 12 acres, which has the remains of a moat and comes with an illustrious history.

The house, boasting architectural features such as crow-stepped gables, was owned by Mr Russell, who was a publisher and author, most famous for writing the book from the advert, Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days by JR Hartley.


You may also want to watch:


In the advert, an elderly gentleman searches in vain for J R Hartley’s book until finally his daughter advises him to consult the Yellow Pages to find it. At the end, the gentleman gives his name on the phone – and says he is JR Hartley.

The book wasn’t real but the advert was so successful, it sparked the writing of it by Mr Russell and it went on to sell 130,000 copies and sparked two sequels.

Most Read

The proceeds helped Mr Russell buy Wilby Hall.

The house also has a link to another famous person: Oliver Cromwell. It is believed to have been built by Sir Thomas Lovell, a soldier who went on to be the speaker of the House of Commons and chancellor of the exchequer.

MORE: Thatched cottage with tiger enclosure at the end of garden for sale

But it was when the house was lived in by Robert Wilton, a friend of Oliver Cromwell, who wrote a book about him, that it is thought Cromwell stayed at the hall on a visit to Norwich.

Wilby Hall is set over three floors. On the ground floor is an impressive drawing room, a sitting room, kitchen/breakfast room and a library with direct access out to the gardens. On the first floor are four double bedrooms, including the principal with a panelled dressing room and en suite bathroom.

A feature original staircase continues to the second floor, with three more bedrooms, a dressing room, sitting room and bathroom.

Agent Ben Rivett, Savills, selling the property, said: “A common theme throughout its existence is the custodians have taken great care to maintain the house with a high degree of sympathy.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus