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Dorset mill where Marie Curie went into hiding is for sale

A former mill where Marie Curie stayed to escape the press after her affair with a married colleague emerged is now on the market for £1.25million.

The Mill House in Highcliffe, Christchurch, Dorset, was booked for the summer of 1912 by a trusted friend of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist so she could escape the scandal and recover after a bout of ill-health.

Curie stayed for two months but was not widely recognised by other holidaymakers despite being one of the most famous women in the world at the time.

The Grade II-listed property, which was originally an 18th century water-driven corn mill, is now on the market with Denisons Estate Agents. 

The Mill House in Highcliffe, Christchurch, Dorset – which was originally an 18th century mill – is on the market for £1.25million

French physicist Marie Curie, pictured front left, had an affair with fellow scientist Paul Langevin, front right

French physicist Marie Curie, pictured front left, had an affair with fellow scientist Paul Langevin, front right

The property has an impressive galleried landing in the mill room - with the current owners moving out because they want to downsize

The property has an impressive galleried landing in the mill room – with the current owners moving out because they want to downsize

It has nine bedrooms, two kitchen/breakfast rooms, a wood-panelled Cedar room, formal dining room, drawing room, a study and an impressive galleried landing in the mill room.

The current owners are looking to downsize and the house is now in need of some modernisation. 

The property sits in three acres of land, with some woodland and the beach at Highcliffe is just a short walk down the lane.

Marie Curie’s break had been arranged by Hertha Ayrton, a trusted friend and a fellow physicist who lived in England. 

The property sits in three acres of land, with some woodland and the beach at Highcliffe is just a short walk down the lane

The property sits in three acres of land, with some woodland and the beach at Highcliffe is just a short walk down the lane

The property also boasts carefully-tended gardens among the acres of land that are included in the sale

The property also boasts carefully-tended gardens among the acres of land that are included in the sale

Curie, a widow, suffered from a serious kidney infection at the end of 1911 and was hounded by journalists after news emerged she was having an affair with Paul Langevin, a married fellow physicist and former pupil of her late husband.

The publicity effectively ended the affair but Hertha urged Marie to come for a holiday in England and said she would ‘take a house by the sea’.

She travelled under her maiden name, Madame Sklodowska, on the Calais-Dover ferry to meet Hertha, with her daughters Irene, 14, and Eve, 7, following shortly after.

Also part of the group was an English governess for the children, Hertha’s daughter Barbara and a friend called Evelyn Sharp, who later wrote a biography of Hertha, a leading campaigner for women’s rights, which mentioned the holiday.

Speaking about the property sale, Andy Denison, from estate agent Denisons, said: 'It's a fabulous place, there's a little stream there and it's just a short walk down the lane onto the beach'

Speaking about the property sale, Andy Denison, from estate agent Denisons, said: ‘It’s a fabulous place, there’s a little stream there and it’s just a short walk down the lane onto the beach’

Curie stayed for two months at the property but was not widely recognised by other holidaymakers despite being one of the most famous women in the world at the time

Curie stayed for two months at the property but was not widely recognised by other holidaymakers despite being one of the most famous women in the world at the time

Sharp wrote that the group were ‘a merry party in spite of many preoccupations’ and Marie Curie’s secret was so well preserved that ‘no newspaper discovered her presence in England’.

The pair continued to exchange letters right up until Hertha’s death in 1923 at the age of 69.

Eve wrote in the biography of her mother about the trip: ‘Tracked down by physical ills and human baseness, she hid herself like a beast at bay.

‘In the summer her friend, Mrs Ayrton, received her and her daughters in a peaceful house on the English coast. There she found care and protection.’ 

Estate agent Andy Denison added: 'It's nice to have that history to it, to know the property had an importance in its time and was of interest to people like Marie Curie'

Estate agent Andy Denison added: ‘It’s nice to have that history to it, to know the property had an importance in its time and was of interest to people like Marie Curie’

The property is in need of some modernisation, according to the estate agents who are organising the sale

The property is in need of some modernisation, according to the estate agents who are organising the sale

Speaking about the property sale, Andy Denison, from estate agent Denisons, said: ‘It’s a fabulous place, there’s a little stream there and it’s just a short walk down the lane onto the beach.

‘The setting is really picturesque, it’s quite unique. There’s a lovely little valley of woodland.

‘Many of the period features from the time Marie Curie stayed there have been retained.

‘It’s nice to have that history to it, to know the property had an importance in its time and was of interest to people like Marie Curie.

‘People like the fact the property they own is a part of history. The house does need some organisation and modernisation now so it would be an ideal project for somebody.

‘But if it had some money put into it, it will be a really beautiful house.

‘There are a lot of new houses springing up by the beach in this area, which are great, but it’s nice to see a more traditional house like this.’

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