In 2013, Hollywood producer Hopwood Depree was winding down after work with some wine and casual Internet scrolling. Scanning ancestry websites, he discovered a massive English estate bearing his unusual name: Hopwood Hall.
His grandfather had always talked vaguely of a “Hopwood Castle” in the family past, and apparently it wasn’t just talk. Depree learned the abandoned 600-year-old, 60-room manor on 5,000 acres in Middleton was, in fact, his family’s long-forgotten ancestral home.
With middle-age looming, the 40-something Depree felt an immediate connection and would soon leave LA for England with a new purpose: To restore his family estate to its former glory. He gave up his Hollywood career, including pitching shows for the McDonald’s TV channel.
“As much as I loved their McNuggets, I was now off to England to fulfill my destiny,” he writes in “Downton Shabby: One American’s Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family’s English Castle” (William Morrow), out now.