'Downton Shabby': An American went online to search his genealogy. Now he's saving his English ancestral castle.


Downton Shabby: Q&A with LA man saving his family’s castle from ruin

An aerial view of Hopwood Hall from 1924.
  • American actor, screenwriter and producer Hopwood DePree discovered his family’s ancestral home while doing online research.
  • When DePree moved to near Manchester, England, to rescue Hopwood Hall, the 600-year-old estate was all but ruined.
  • Downton Shabby: One American’s Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family’s English Castle publishes with William Morrow (HarperCollins) on May 31.

LONDON – Many people searching genealogy websites for information about their ancestors encounter poignant geographical details, long-lost relatives or historical insights – good, bad and ugly. 

Michigan-born actor, screenwriter and producer Hopwood DePree found an abandoned, but once-resplendent 50,000-square-foot estate in the English countryside – his family’s ancestral home where his 14th great-grandfather was born. 

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