A woman living in the city’s exclusive Park Estate has been speaking of the moment Sir Paul Smith saw her house as ‘the most beautiful on the street’ – and printed it on his unique designer merchandise that’s globally recognised. Hidden away from the ‘craziness’ of the city, The Park is a gated, luxurious estate with an “Italian feel” to it.
Most of the houses are white, and cars need a passcode to enter the gates to the estate. Located to the west of the centre of Nottingham, The Park is stylish and private and has been home to some well-known figures.
The area is well known for its Victorian architecture, and famous names who have lived here include Dame Laura Knight, Sir Jonathan Miller, late footballer Justin Fashanu – and the world leading fashion designer Sir Paul himself. Mary Fruin, who moved to the area in 1981, remembered the unforgettable moment when the fashion icon asked if he could print her house on his merchandise.
Mrs Fruin said: “It was many years ago. He was visiting a friend just next door for a barbeque. He said that we have the most beautiful house on the street, and asked if he could take a picture of it and print it on his merchandise.” She laughed and added: “It was a wise choice. He clearly has good taste.”
Following the chance encounter, Mrs Fruin’s home has become synonymous with the genius of Sir Paul. The signature multi-coloured striped Mini was pictured outside her home and this image has become a flagship feature of the designer brand, and recognised all over the world.
Carefully kept in a Paul Smith original black bag, Mrs Fruin revealed an item gifted by the famous designer himself. She said: “We got this bag, and also the photo used for his merchandise framed, signed by Sir Paul Smith himself. He is a lovely character.”
Former hairdresser Mrs Fruin has vast knowledge about the 12 houses on her street. She said: “The houses were built in 1830 for the Duke of Newcastle originally.
“In 1960, three apartments on this street were valued for £437 per annum, and it was mostly women who lived on this street. Now a house on this street is estimated for over a million to buy.
“We are living a privileged life, I am aware of this. But it is hard work.” She spent part of her life travelling “a small percentage of this world” in Thailand, the Caribbean Islands, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The interior of her Victorian house compliments the history of this street. She added: “We tried to keep and preserve the history of it. This rug is from Vietnam. I guess the area has an Italian feel to it. I love it here.”
But she is certainly not the only one who praised the area. Karen Chappell, another neighbour in the estate, said: “It is lovely. It is such a great place to live. It also has a great sense of community. It is very quiet and peaceful.”
The 56-year-old added: “Everyone is so nice here. It is the people who make this place so special.” Another long-term resident, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “I know I am privileged to live here. Sometimes I am embarrassed when my friends come here.
“Everyone has bags from Waitrose, we get our streets cleaned regularly. There are no leaves on the street. It is gated off, hidden away from the craziness of the city. There are so many expensive cars here as well. Sometimes I cannot help staring at some of the cars, like our neighbour’s BMW.”
She said: “It is a one way in and out system, and there is a passcode that gets changed regularly. We have group chats and there is a great sense of community. It is a beautiful place made by people, it is a very private and exclusive estate. And people want to keep things nice for themselves.”
The area derives its name and origin from a royal park once attached to Nottingham Castle. In 1067 William the Conqueror ordered the building of the original motte-and-bailey castle on Castle Rock, and The Park was created to compliment it in the late 11th Century.
For many years it was used as a hunting ground, with deer brought in from Sherwood Forest and rabbits imported from France. After the extensive redevelopment which followed, one of The Park’s most noticeable features is its gas lighting system. Nottingham as a city replaced gas with electric lighting in 1937 but The Park, being a private estate, opted to keep this feature.