Framlingham taxi driver lives double life as Chateau Diaries star
- Credit: Gerald Grady
A Framlingham taxi driver has been living a double life working as a chateau repairman.
For the last 15 years Gerry Grady, who owns Framlingham Taxis, has been journeying to the chateau LeLande in the centre of France to help owner Stephanie Jarvis restore the 16th century architectural marvel.
Mr Grady said: "It is a working Chateau, we have people coming from Holland to our musical workshops — Stephanie is a trained soprano. We also have a lot of guests come for bed and breakfast."
The Chateau, which featured on Channel 4 reality series Escape to the Chateau DIY, is now the focus of a successor show, Chateau DIY, and in it's own YouTube Channel, the Chateau Diaries.
"Most of the guests are from the UK, people who have seen the Chateau program and want to come and visit Lelande and meet with us."
"They [Channel 4] were looking for people in the UK who had bought a chateau and wanted people to see how much it cost, the upkeep of a chateau and all the work we do ourself. They said we'd probably only be in the first series, but now we're filming the seventh series.
"When I'm there I'll go to the boulangerie in the morning, I'll buy the croissants, the breakfast, I'm not a great cook, I don't work in the kitchen, but I'll help out serving.
"Mainly, I'm into maintenance, the DIY side. If something goes wrong with the electrics, the plumbing the decorating, that's when I'll step in.
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"I think that's why what we're filming at the moment is Stephanie making me an apartment."
Mr Grady added: "Stephanie was born in Glasgow in 1975. My mother worked for her father, and I was brought up with them.
"We moved to Suffolk in 1983, when Stephanie's parents bought Cransford Hall, which used to be a boarding school. Both of her parents were psychiatric nurses, and when they took it over they made it into a nursing home.
"Growing up, Stephanie had always been used to living in big buildings. She used to always say to me, 'one day we're going to live in a castle'.
"Stephanie's mother Isabelle is French, so she's Fluent in French, so she'd always been looking to buy a Chateau. She bought Le Leland in 2006, after looking at about 10 different ones.
"I've been going there the entire 15 years. Before the pandemic I'd go eight times in a year. I'm there about a month total every year and when they're filming they'll ask me to come down — I'll be there at Christmas."
The pandemic severely threatened the chateau, as all events and holiday business was lost, however, the growth of the Chateau Diaries YouTube channel enabled the business to continue through it.
"The Chateau Diaries has over 50 million views. Her Patreon supporters have really enabled us to do all the work that we want to do — at the moment we're hoping to reinstate the lake at the back."
He finished: "I'm recognised from the show/channel very often, mainly at airports, with lots of people asking for selfies — I stand out because I'm tiny. The other day at KFC there was this woman who couldn't stop staring!"