Could you find your dream Christmas gift on the eBay for toffs? It’s the elite social network where dukes, countesses and stars buy and sell their treasures… from a darling pony to a Cresta Run toboggan and even a Balmoral print by the King
- Known as Radio H-P, the online members’ club is like a posh Gumtree
- It allows members to discreetly sell houses, animals and silver candlesticks
- Current gifts on offer include a £2,000 Kennel Club-registered French bulldog
Need a new signet ring with the family crest for a lucky someone’s stocking? Or a Boxing Day’s shoot in Devon?
Perhaps a new cocker spaniel puppy with a five-generation pedigree to delight the children on Christmas morning?
Then you need to become a member of Britain’s most elite social network.
Known as Radio H-P, this online members’ club is like a posh Gumtree — a website which allows its well-heeled members to discreetly sell houses, animals and silver candlesticks to one another, as well as finding staff and suitably smart holiday rentals.
A few weeks ago tickets for an afternoon spent Christmas decorating with Michelle Dockery (otherwise known as Lady Mary from Downton Abbey) were advertised
Founded in 2015 by Nigel Haddon-Paton, 69, a charming and impeccably dressed former major in the Household Cavalry regiment Blues and Royals, it’s become a much-loved resource by all those who use it. And it’s particularly handy at this time of year when posh people do their Christmas shopping.
Because dukes and countesses couldn’t possibly venture on to Oxford Street or browse anywhere as common as eBay. Instead, they look to Radio H-P, where current Christmas presents on offer include signed lithographs of Balmoral and Sandringham by King Charles (from £6,000), an antique snooker table (from £6,900) and a used mini Land Rover for children (£2,700).
There was particular excitement a few weeks ago when tickets for an afternoon spent Christmas decorating with Michelle Dockery (otherwise known as Lady Mary from Downton Abbey) were advertised, though it’s unclear whether the actress herself is part of the H-P community.
Current Christmas presents on offer include signed lithographs of Balmoral and Sandringham by King Charles (from £6,000)
No doubt at this point you’re wondering how you gain access to Radio H-P. Well, it’s tricky. Very tricky. It’s not like signing up to Facebook. They don’t let any old riff-raff in. As with old-school gentleman’s clubs, you have to be proposed by someone who’s already a user and seconded by another user (these two people can’t be related).
These proposers and seconders fill out a testimonial form, illustrating that person’s ‘character’, and ‘what you think they might bring to the Radio H-P community’.
Whoever is being put forward then has to provide a potted CV of their education and career. Every single application is read by Nigel himself.
Nigel Hadden-Paton was inspired to set up Radio H-P thanks to his very smart friends asking him for help to sell whippet puppies or rent their house in the South of France. And so, eight years ago, he launched a website to connect those in his address book with others who wanted a whippet or a week in Provence. He dubbed it Radio H-P after his surname, and it’s grown ever since.
Known as Radio H-P, this online members’ club is like a posh Gumtree — a website which allows its well-heeled members to discreetly sell houses, animals and silver candlesticks to one another
Today, he says his website is ‘not only considered the friendliest network on the internet but a much sought after resource to reach an influential target market for selling or publicising almost anything.’
Nigel, who lives in Dorset with his wife and has four children — one of whom is the actor, Harry, who played Martin Charteris in the first two series of The Crown — is an entrepreneurial sort.
He’s also a truffle salesman who runs a separate website called Truffle UK. It sells tree saplings, imported from France, Italy and Croatia and infused with truffle spores which, ideally, later sprout truffles themselves. The late Duke of Edinburgh was a client.
With these sort of connections, then, it’s perhaps no surprise to hear that the 11,000 members of Radio H-P are largely made up of extremely grand types: dukes, earls, countesses, lords and ladies, the odd celebrity and Sloaney sorts ranging in age from 18 upwards. While some members live all over the world, the main clientele are mostly British.
This green, vintage-looking toy landrover is priced at £2,700 on Radio H-P
My mother and I are both members and we text the funniest adverts to one another.
Recently, she sent me a post offering members the chance to recycle their ‘family gold’ and turn it into signet rings. Since I’m thinking about getting a dog, she also sends me the puppy postings.
One member is currently advertising a litter of basset hound puppies (‘bred through French and Irish lines’) and I was quite tempted by the photos of the pups peering sweetly over their dog bed. At least you know you’re not buying from a puppy farm here.
It’s also terrific people-watching because underneath every advert is the name of the person who posted it, so I often spot one and think, ‘Oh look, the Duke of So-and-So is selling his old Defender.’
Last month, I learned that a friend was pregnant only when I saw her advert on the site, looking for a bigger rental house in Chelsea.
Indeed, a good number of the members know each other in real life and would wave to one another at Royal Ascot or on the Eton playing field as they watch their son in a rugby match, which is exactly why they like Radio H-P: it’s a safe space. You can rent someone’s house in Puglia or their chalet in Verbier knowing you’re not about to be conned.
That said, there can be hiccups: this summer, I bought a swanky, second-hand Fisher & Paykel cooker for £1,000 from another member and arranged delivery, only for the seller to ring very apologetically on the day (‘I’m so terribly sorry’), confessing that her husband had sold it to another member who’d already got the cooker upstairs and installed in her Maida Vale flat.
The daredevil’s toboggan is available for £2,500 and is decorated with the Scottish saltire
But my money was returned immediately and I never worried at any point that I’d been ‘had’.
Similarly, I recently spotted a splendid testimonial written by a Radio H-P member, lamenting that, having arrived on holiday in Antigua, she discovered the house they’d rented was ‘awful’ but that, thanks to Radio H-P, she was able to rent another, ‘thank goodness!’
For the anointed few, once you’re a member, you can either log on to the site to browse the adverts or sign up for a twice-daily email listing the new postings, dubbed ‘Morning Post’ and ‘Evening Post’, with every email you receive signed off ‘Love and best wishes, Nigel’.
If you want to sell something, say an antique chest of drawers or a house in Gloucestershire, you have to pay the website a fee, which depends on the cost of the item, plus a commission from the sale. If you like the look of something, you simply click on the advert and then message the seller.
But you have to be quick. Earlier this year, I spied a beautiful wooden bath for sale — a bargain at a few hundred pounds — and immediately messaged the seller, since I was doing up my bathroom at the time. Alas, it had sold within minutes.
Although the idea of a posh, private online club may enrage class warriors and it’s all too easy to poke fun of, Radio H-P does a lot of good, too. Last month, one user posted about trying to find a blood stem cell donor for a young relative with leukaemia. It offers tickets to charitable events and helps members find trustworthy carers for their elderly parents, or drivers who can take relatives to hospital and back.
As Nigel himself says, it has ‘old-fashioned values that make Radio H-P a watchword for reliability and good behaviour in business and contribute to [its members’] growing sense of community.’
So what kind of treasures can you find on Radio H-P? Aside from royal lithographs by His Majesty, here’s the current best of crop. Just don’t tell anyone I showed you . . .
BEST OF PETS FOR THE SWISHIEST HOMES
Six Kennel Club-registered French bulldogs are available for £2,000 each
A ‘sweet and loving’ pony called Breeze is being offered for £4,500. She’s grey, very well-behaved, ‘likes hunting and games’ and would make the perfect present for a small child. Pick up from Northumberland.
Or why not surprise the family with a Kennel Club-registered French bulldog on Christmas Day? Three boys and three girls are available, £2,000 each, they’ve been wormed and have had their first vaccine.
Members also often advertise for male or female dogs to breed with theirs. Tragically, I always find these adverts extremely funny. ‘Bilbo seeks a babe,’ says one current post, going on to explain that the member is keen to breed her Shih Tzu Bilbo with another dog because she’d ‘love to have one of his puppies’.
SLIDE INTO THE POSHEST OF TOBOGGONS
One of my favourite adverts ever on this site, a member is selling his Cresta Run toboggan. The Cresta Run is the very exclusive and very icy slope in St Moritz, Switzerland, which European Royalty and British toffs have been flinging themselves down since it was built in 1884.
This daredevil’s toboggan is available for £2,500 and is decorated with the Scottish saltire.
‘The Cresta run has always been known as the best thrill you can have with your clothes on, and here is the means to achieve it,’ promises his advertisement.
TIME TO BUY YOURSELF A NEW BENTLEY?
One member is currently flogging his blue Bentley, which has walnut veneers and heated seats. It’s a snip at £35,000.
Another declares ‘For the person who has everything’ in his advert, offering a 2007 black cab with nearly 400,000 miles on the clock, air-con and a top speed of 70mph. ‘I bought it to drive to Germany and back, and now it is ready for its next adventure,’ says the double-barrelled member from Chelsea.
COUNTRY MANSIONS TO A CHIC PIED A TERRE
Property is often advertised on the site because you can sell directly to another member without having to deal with an oily estate agent.
Right now, you can pick up a sensationally beautiful, seven- bedroom Georgian house in Dorset if you have a spare £2 million knocking around. Built in the 1780s, it has an adjacent paddock and a separate two- bedroom cottage.
Or why not buy a luxury penthouse in Lisbon — solid oak floors, marble terrace, walnut staircase and three bedrooms for just €4 million (£3.4 million).
TRUSTED HOUSEKEEPER OR A CHALET HOST
Nannying jobs, as well as PA roles and live-in caring jobs, are regularly posted on Radio H-P because it’s a trusted network where you’re more likely to find someone brilliant than using a dubious or expensive agency. A housekeeper is currently required for the Cotswolds (must be able to cook ‘to dinner party standard’) and various chalet hosts are, naturally, needed for chalets across the Alps as the winter ski season kicks off.
LUXE HOLIDAYS FOR THOSE IN THE KNOW
Renting your nine-bedroom house on Radio H-P is popular because its membership is so select you won’t (hopefully) come home to a place trashed by plebs a la Airbnb. And the prices are competitive, too.
‘Escape the cold and dark — come to Cape Town!’ says a recent post, offering a pretty wooden three-bedroom house in the South African city for £1,500 a week. Other holiday homes currently on offer are in Sri Lanka, Morocco and Botswana.
Or you could opt for ‘a slice of heaven’ in Kenya over New Year, and spend £3,300 a week renting this member’s house on the coast which comes with five staff, including a ‘superb’ chef.
ONLY ONE PLACE TO BUY YOUR FOIE GRAS…
‘Although avian flu has made it difficult to source this year, I do have a small quantity of delicious foie gras,’ writes one member, who imports the delicacy from France. Prices from £32 and ‘fig, raspberry and truffle condiments are available’ to go with it. ‘I also have some wonderful highly alcoholic cherries that make the perfect present,’ adds the member. Delicious.
Source: Read Full Article