A MANSION once owned by the infamous Kray Twins has gone on the market with a price tag of £2.25m – but the house holds a dark secret.
Notorious East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray bought The Brooks in Bildeston near Hadleigh, Suffolk, for just £11,000 in 1967.
The brothers fell in love with Suffolk after they had been evacuated to Hadleigh during World War Two and they vowed to return one day and buy a house in the area.
The sizeable property is now on the market for the first time in 30 years.
Estate agents describe the 6.4-acre grounds as “tranquil” although the cops once dug up the garden as they searched for bodies.
The crime bosses stayed regularly at the house, which is just off the High Street in Bildeston and they were there on the weekend before they and 15 members of their gang were arrested in May 1968.
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Villagers recall how the police searched the house and dug up part of the garden as they looked for bodies in the following days.
The original house dates back to the 16th century with 18th-century extensions and Victorian alterations, estate agents Bedfords said.
It is described as an "exceptional unlisted period house of elegant proportions and versatile accommodation".
Along with the main house there is a separate cottage and "an enormous range of high-quality outbuildings" providing a studio, gym, office complex and an open plan games/party room.
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Ronnie and Reggie Kray were the heads of a vicious East End crime empire which carried out murder, armed robberies, protection rackets and assaults.
The brothers were handed life sentences in 1969 after cops swooped on the gang just days after they had taken a break at their Suffolk home.
Ronnie was convicted of the murder of fellow gangster George Cornell who was shot dead in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel in 1966 and Reggie convicted of the murder of Jack "The Hat" McVitie in 1967.
In a 1989 interview with author Robin McGibbon, Ronnie recalled how he and Reggie had enjoyed carefree childhood days as evacuees in Suffolk.
He told how they had gone tobogganing, scrumping for apples and played cowboys and Indians while living at East House Lodge, Hadleigh, with a woman called Mrs Styles.
Ronnie said in a taped interview: "It was the first time we ever went to the county and we got to like the country."
He added: "The quietness, the peacefulness of it, the fresh air, nice scenery, nice countryside – different from London."
After spending two years in the countryside, the twins returned to their family home in Bethnal Green because their mum, Violet, wanted them to be close to their grandmother and other relatives.
But the brothers pledged to return and buy a house in Suffolk when they had made enough money.
They were true to their word and splashed out on The Brooks when their crime empire was at its height.
KRAYS BOUGHT HOUSE FOR £11,000
Speaking about the purchase, Ronnie said: "Later on we was able to buy the mansion and the cottage for 11 grand."
When asked for the date of the purchase, he replied: "Just before we was arrested… It would be worth a million pound today. We had to have it all decorated and redone up."
The house is said to have been furnished with antiques, sourced by the brothers from local shops and auctions.
Ronnie claimed they got on “very well” with the locals, revealing: "We used to go to the local inns there and have a drink; have a sandwich.
"I can't remember any names. Quiet country inns, we used to go to."
They are also thought to have become popular with the local kids, giving them donkey rides on a field and handing out money to buy ice-cream.
The Krays also bought a pink cottage close to the post office in the village for their parents Charlie and Violet.
Their dad is also said to have become friendly with the locals who described him as a cheery “true Cockney diamond”.
Ronnie insisted he and his brother didn’t get involved in any crime while in East Anglia.
He said of the locals: "They was very nice; friendly, kind, nice people. Very genuine people."
When asked if the locals knew about their background, he said: "Some of them did. People recognised us from photographs in the paper. Some of them; not all of them.
KRAYS LIKED BY LOCALS
"It didn't seem to make any difference to them, anyway. They still liked us. We got on well with them."
They sold the house for £14,000 after they were jailed, with Ronnie explaining it was "cos we was inside and there was no point keeping it on."
The twins are said to have written to their dad from jail in 1970, asking him to donate a collection of gym equipment to Hadleigh's youth club which was then being run from East House where they had been evacuees.
The agents details for The Brooks say: "The property is graced with considerable natural light and wonderful original features to include large sash windows, picture rails and attractive fireplaces in almost all rooms (including the cloakroom!)."
The 4,200 square feet main house includes a large reception hall with an "attractive staircase" and "ornate stained-glass interior windows".
Its drawing room has a double aspect, with doors to the south giving access to the gardens and a marble fireplace with wood-burning stove.
The dining room has a "fabulous bay window, with bespoke window seating" with a fireplace flanked by handmade cupboards and shelving and a snug with an open fireplace.
The Aga kitchen has a range of handmade painted shaker-style units with matching display cabinets, solid wood worktops and twin Belfast sink.
There is also a study/hobbies room with a brick floor and an arched window overlooking a walled courtyard and a utility/laundry room with storage units and a door to the gardens.
The landing on the first floor leads to a "triple-aspect principal bedroom", a main guest bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, and three further bedrooms, served by a large traditional bathroom with ball-and-claw bath and a large walk-in shower.
Two further double bedrooms, sharing a large bathroom, are on the second floor.
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Bedfords describe the grounds of the house as "one of the most exceptional settings we have seen for some time".
The agents say the house is "located centrally within this highly regarded and well-served village, yet somehow providing a mature, rural environment to enjoy the copious levels of wildlife and tranquillity".
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