George Arliss. (1868-1946) the first British Oscar winner.
George Arliss and his wife Florence had a house in the village for at least 35 years from about 1911 to 1942, which they used as a weekend and summer retreat. George wrote two volumes of autobiography and said in one that ‘there was no peace like the peace of St Margaret’s’, his much loved country retreat where he used to come to recharge his batteries, to think and to write.
Unlike many other famous and wealthy people here George and Florence lived in the village rather than the Bay. Their first house, No 1, Springfield Cottage in Chapel Lane, was originally one of two cottages. It was converted into one house in the 1960’sand is now called ‘Moonrakers’.
In 1914 they had a new house built on the cinder track to Droveway Gardens, and called it ‘Crossways Cottage’, adding a coach house for his staff and cars in the 1930’s.
The couple also had a house in Maida Vale near Paddington and during the twenty years when he mainly worked in the winters in America he crossed the Atlantic more than 60 times, returning to the UK annually for the spring and summer.
‘Crossways’ was sadly destroyed by shells from the German cross channel guns on 4 September 1942, and the present ‘Crossways ‘ was built in the 1950’s by his brother who inherited the site after George’s death in 1946.
The site was divided in the 1980’s into two properties, as now, the larger house sold off and the Coach House extended and modernised.
Although he is now largely forgotten, George was a film superstar in his day. He had begun his career on the stage, and became very famous in America for his stage portrayal of Disraeli. Warner Brothers took him on to make a series of films to try to improve the less than serious image films had in the 1920’s. In 1929 he won an Oscar for a film version of Disraeli, the first Brit to win the award.
George made 24 films in total for Warner’s and then Darryl Zanuck, and lastly, in England, for Gaumont- British. Florence was also an actress and starred in many of the films alongside him.