The first thing that hit the new lord of Penrose Manor when he walked into his ancestral home for the first time wasn’t the huge brass dinner gong in the echoing hallway or the grandfather clock beside it.
It wasn’t the array of swords all bearing the family crest or the cabinet containing the family seals dating back generations. Nor was it the collection of exquisite antique China (one vase alone is valued at more than £20,000) or lacquered chests of drawers and cabinets.
And ravishing as the views over the 1,536-acre estate are from the four picture windows in his cavernous, echoing dining room with its 20ft highly polished table, he barely looked out.
Instead, he couldn’t take his eyes off the painting in the hall of a shy looking man with the slightly droopy hair that was so fashionable in the Seventies.
‘I looked at that portrait,’ says Jordan Adlard Rogers, 31, his eyes welling up. ‘And I could have been looking at a portrait of myself. That was the moment I knew I belonged.
Jordan Adlard Rogers, 31 (pictured left with his partner Katie and their son Joshua), is the new lord of Penrose Manor, a £50 million Cornish estate, which he inherited after the death of Charles Rogers, the last in line of an illustrious family, who have lived in the manor since 1771
‘If I’d seen that portrait 20 years ago, my life would have been so different. I’d have known who my father was and where I came from. I wouldn’t have spent over half my life wondering who I was, feeling only half a person. Now I know I belong. I’m no longer a dirty secret.’
Jordan’s delight is palpable. As well it should be. He’s the former care worker who this week was revealed as the new squire of the £50 million Cornish estate, which he inherited after the death of Charles Rogers, the last in line of an illustrious family, who have lived in the grade II-listed home since 1771.
Jordan is Charles’s illegimate son — conceived during a fling in the Eighties — whose bloodline was only revealed following a DNA test after his father’s death. In this first exclusive interview, he reveals the astonishing leap he has made to arrive at Penrose Manor.
He describes a fractured, nomadic childhood, tainted by violence and with fleeting father figures and a vulnerable, impetuous, free-spirited mother, of whom he’s fiercely protective.
He’s been malnourished, barely educated and often plain cold. He spent five years living with a travelling community, where he was ostracised and bullied by local children, living without a flushing loo or regular hot meal.
But now he is here. Jordan will never have to work again. Along with the estate, regarded as one of the finest still in private hands in Britain, he receives a trust fund of some £100,000 a year.
But most importantly, he insists, he finally knows who he is.
Today, he proudly shows me around the home, with its sweeping drive flanked by acres of bluebells, he shares with his fiancee, Katie Hubber, a hospital radiographer and their five-week-old son Joshua.
He is still visibly reeling from the shock of his new position and the huge responsibility on his shoulders.
The estate was donated to the National Trust by Jordan’s grandparents, Lieutenant Commander John Peverell Rogers and his wife Angela, in exchange for a 1,000-year lease for descendants to live there. Running the land and maintaining the house with its 20 bedrooms is a huge burden.
Jordan’s mother Julie (pictured) was already going off the rails when, aged 18, she met Charles Rogers, 31 , at the common in Porthleven where youngsters congregated to drink and smoke. Although hailing from different worlds, they struck up a rapport and started a relationship
But first things first. Jordan’s priority has been to install a ‘games room’ with a 65in flat-screen TV where he can watch football. Meanwhile, Katie is yearning for new units to fill the old-fashioned kitchen which hasn’t been updated since the Sixties.
Still, beneath the body-builder physique and jokey exterior, Jordan is a thoughtful, sensitive soul and, most of all, fiercely protective of his mother and the Adlard side of his family (he only added the Rogers surname recently).
His mother, Julie Adlard, whom he repeatedly tells me he adores, battled drink problems all his young life, but is now sober. She’s 51 and ‘thrilled’ at his good fortune. ‘Mum knows she’s made a lot of mistakes,’ says Jordan carefully.
‘But I don’t want to blame her. She lost her own dad when she was nine and that affected her.
‘She’s picked partners who were violent. I’ve seen her beaten up by boyfriends and was too little to do anything to help.’
Julie was already going off the rails when, aged 18, she met Charles Rogers, 31, at the common in Porthleven where youngsters congregated to drink and smoke. Although hailing from different worlds, they struck up a rapport and started a relationship.
Like Julie, Charles was at the start of a long spiral downhill. Born into a long line of very senior Army and Navy officers, Charles Rogers was the younger son of Lieutenant Commander Rogers and his wife Angela.
Like Julie, Charles (pictured) was at the start of a long spiral downhill. Born into a long line of very senior Army and Navy officers, Charles Rogers was the younger son of Lieutenant Commander Rogers and his wife Angela
When Jordan (pictured) was born on Julie decided to do something which was to deeply muddy the waters for Jordan. Three weeks after his birth, she married a local man called Gary Galloway. The little family moved into a house in nearby Helston
After being sent to a private crammer college in Sussex as a teenager, he spent a brief spell serving in the Army as a non-commissioned officer. He saw active service in Northern Ireland during one of the most violent periods in its history, an experience which, friends say, had a lasting impact on him.
After leaving the Army, he returned to Penrose where he embraced a hippy lifestyle, growing his hair long and styling it into dreadlocks.
To the increasing despair of his parents, he failed to find a profession for himself and lived in a farmhouse on the edge of the estate, enjoying the income he received from the land.
When he met Julie, Charles wasn’t even heir to the estate. That position was occupied by his elder brother Nigel, a former RAF Flight Lieutenant who later became an optician. Tragically, Nigel developed leukaemia and died in the summer of 1987 in his early 30s without leaving any children.
Julie was five months pregnant at the time, unaware that the unborn child she was carrying had become heir to a £50 million estate.
When Jordan was born on born on December 27, 1987, Julie decided to do something which was to deeply muddy the waters for Jordan. Three weeks after his birth, she married a local man called Gary Galloway. The little family moved into a house in nearby Helston.
Wheal Rose in Porthleven, Cornwall, which is where Jordan Adlard Rogers lived when he was six years old
This is the humble childhood home where a young Jordan grew up wondering if he was the heir to the £50million sprawling estate a mile down the road
‘Mum and Gary raised me to believe that he was my dad. I don’t blame her because I can see she thought it would be easier for me,’ says Jordan generously.
‘I don’t know whether Charles suspected I was his son. But, if he did, I guess he didn’t want to cause any friction. I adored Gary. One of my earliest memories is sitting on his shoulders and feeling so safe and happy. It was like a giant was carrying me around.’
But even generous-spirited Jordan struggles to explain the next turn of events.
When he was four, Julie left Gary, blaming his violent temper, and promptly fell in love with a local traveller. Overnight, Jordan was catapulted into the traveller lifestyle.
‘I’d just started nursery school in Cornwall. Suddenly I was travelling the country with Mum and her boyfriend Buster,’ recalls Jordan.
‘Kids are very adaptable, but it was such a shock I’ve blocked a lot of it out. I felt I didn’t fit in anywhere. The gipsy kids didn’t accept me because I was what they called a gorger — someone who just tags along. We’d live on sites where the loo would be the bushes.
‘I’d go to school for a few days. Then we’d be off to the next camp. My education really suffered.
‘I was so behind that kids called me Dumb Dumb. I hated school. I preferred to be on the camp playing with my air rifle or jumping in and out of abandoned cars.’
Charles had agreed to take a DNA test to prove whether or not he was indeed Jordan’s father, but sadly Julie failed to follow it up (Penrose Manor pictured)
He adds: ‘Gipsy life is very aggressive. There’d be cockerel fighting in the evenings where Buster and his mates would set their birds against each other for sport.
‘Buster was tough. I had a black labrador, Jess, who was my best friend. One day Jess attacked one of Buster’s birds so he got rid of her. That was it. My dog was gone.’
And, of course, Jordan missed the man he then believed was his father. So he was devastated when Julie told him that Gary had died in an accident. Even now he doesn’t know the full details.
Buster was far from ideal father material and a world away from the gentle, but troubled, soul who was his blood father. Yet Jordan felt such a hole in his life that he begged Buster to be his dad.
‘I clearly remember asking him to be my new dad,’ he shrugs. ‘When he said yes and that I could call him Dad, I was made up. I don’t want to sound self-pitying because, tough as it was, living with the gipsies made me who I am.
‘I’m adaptable and very robust. I never had the loving, affectionate childhood I want for my son. I was always cold — caravans are freezing — and I see myself constantly checking that he’s warm enough. But it does mean that I can deal with challenges that might floor a more sensitive person.’
In September 1994, when Jordan was almost seven, Julie gave birth to his sister, Queenie. Two years later, she split from Buster and the family relocated to a council flat.
Despite his poor schooling, Jordan managed to scrape a few GCSEs and started an NVQ course in Car Mechanics at Helston College, before finding work as a van driver for a fruit and vegetable company
Jordan started attending school regularly for the first time in his life.
Struggling hard to keep up in lessons — he says he was at least two years behind his classmates — he showed a laudable determination and resilience.
‘We didn’t have a car and Mum was rarely up in the mornings, so I used to walk one and a half miles to school on my own,’ he says.
Life was on a relatively even keel when, one day, when he was ten, Julie sat him down and dropped the bombshell news — Gary wasn’t his real dad. I’d been pestering her about why I was so small — I’m only 5ft 8in when Gary was well over 6ft,’ recalls Jordan.
‘I wanted to know when I was going to be as tall as my dad. Mum just came out and said: “He wasn’t your real dad. A man called Charles Rogers is your dad.” I couldn’t take it in. I didn’t care about this new man Charles. I just felt I’d lost my dad twice.’
A few weeks later, Julie did something equally extraordinary. On a whim, she piled Jordan into a relative’s car and demanded a lift to Charles’s front door. She was going to confront him and make him acknowledge his son.
‘I remember this huge drive with all these bushes and trees, then arriving at the front door of the cottage on the estate where Charles was living,’ recalls Jordan.
‘Mum was hammering at the door when this man appeared, looking very smart in a white shirt and tie. He was very calm. He led us into the sitting room, smiled down at me and said: “Your mum and I need to talk.”
At 18, Jordan decided to try his luck with Charles for himself. By then of course he understood that Charles was heir to a fortune. (Penrose Estate pictured)
They went off and I could hear Mum shouting and crying. She kept saying: “Can’t you see he’s the spitting image of you?”’
Jordan adds: ‘It didn’t make sense to me. He was a man in his 40s. I was ten. How did we look alike? After about 15 minutes we were back in the car going back home.’
Charles had agreed to take a DNA test to prove whether or not he was indeed Jordan’s father, but sadly Julie failed to follow it up.
Perhaps part of the reason is that, shortly after the encounter, Julie was completely felled when Buster, who was visiting Queenie at the family home, dropped dead of a heart attack in the front room. ‘I was upstairs and heard Mum scream,’ Jordan shudders. ‘I ran down and tried to comfort her and Queenie.
‘I remember hugging her and telling her it would be all right. I was only 11, but I felt it was my responsibility to make it OK. Of course I couldn’t. Queenie and I watched his body being taken out in a body bag.’
Julie was so distraught she refused to spend another night in the home. Unfortunately, instead of waiting to arrange a swap through the council, she organised an unofficial swap with a neighbour.
When the council found out, Julie was evicted and the family plunged into yet another domestic crisis. Jordan was sent to live with his grandmother — Julie’s mother.
You can almost see the stress lift as Jordan talks about the time he spent living with Barbara Binns and her husband John.
But he is adamant that the money was of no interest. All he wanted was to know for certain who his real father was
Adoring grandparents, they did their best to make up for the love and security Jordan had missed out on.
‘Gran is brilliant. She has slight dementia now, but in her prime she was a livewire,’ Jordan says.
‘She’d do silly things like have a competition to see which of us could run into the sea first — and this is a woman in her 60s. She’s strong and self-sufficient.’ But while Jordan was secure for the first time in his life, he missed having a father. ‘I was good at football and when I was 13 I was selected to go to an international tournament in the Netherlands.
‘I was thrilled but so lonely. All the other boys had their families with them, cheering them on. I had no one. When mates asked about my dad, I told them he was dead. It was easier.
‘When I saw Mum I’d often remind her about getting Charles to do a DNA test but it never happened.’
Despite his poor schooling, Jordan managed to scrape a few GCSEs and started an NVQ course in Car Mechanics at Helston College, before finding work as a van driver for a fruit and vegetable company.
At 18, he decided to try his luck with Charles for himself. By then of course he understood that Charles was heir to a fortune.
But he is adamant that the money was of no interest. All he wanted was to know for certain who his real father was.
Dressed smartly and terrified of being rejected, he knocked nervously at Charles’s door.
But the man who answered looked nothing like the young Charles from the portrait — or indeed the man Jordan remembered from eight years previously.
By now, Charles Rogers was leading a hermitic existence, was addicted to prescription drugs, rarely washed or changed his clothes, and frequently slept in his car
‘He looked totally unkempt with straggly long hair and a beard,’ Jordan recalls.
By now, Charles Rogers was leading a hermitic existence, was addicted to prescription drugs, rarely washed or changed his clothes, and frequently slept in his car.
As his health declined, attempts to help him with psychiatric appointments and rehab failed. ‘He agreed to a DNA test, but said I needed to ask him formally through a solicitor. I was terrified of the cost — I knew it could be £1,000 just to send a solicitor’s letter and I just wasn’t earning enough so I didn’t pursue it.
‘I kept thinking: “What’s so wrong with me? What have I done that my dad won’t accept me?” It was hard. It was a massive piece of the jigsaw I couldn’t find and I knew I wouldn’t rest until I did.’
By 2015, Jordan was making a decent living as a carer, and had also met Katie.
She remembers the pair going for a walk through the public part of the estate on one of their first dates, and Jordan saying that was where his father lived. ‘He’s such a joker I just thought he was trying to impress me,’ she laughs.
Poignantly, Jordan would often jog round the estate, getting as close as he could to the house. ‘I would sit on a bench and watch the front door hoping I would see Charles’s mum — my nan.
‘I didn’t realise she was already ill with dementia and rarely, if ever, went out.’
But in August last year, everything changed. Jordan got a phone call from estate manager Philip Care whom he’d been in contact with over the years as he repeatedly tried to persuade Charles to agree to a DNA test.
Jordan’s life changed in August last year following a DNA test that confirmed he was Charle’s Roger’s son (Jordan with his partner Katie Hubber, 30, and their newborn son Joshua)
Charles had been found dead in his car outside the house. He’d overdosed on a heroin substitute.
‘He told me it was my last chance to prove, one way or another, whether I was his son.
‘He also had power of attorney for my grandmother Angela so he felt it was in her interests for it to be clarified who was the rightful heir even if she was too ill to meet me or understand the implications.
‘I was in shock. Just three days earlier — on the very day that Charles died — Katie discovered she was pregnant.
‘It was unplanned but we were thrilled. To find I was going to be a father and to lose my dad in the space of three days was just extraordinary.’
But what was to follow was even more incredible. As we shall see in Monday’s Daily Mail, that phone call opened a whole new dramatic chapter in this young man’s life.
The drama would involve a frantic race against time to obtain a DNA sample from his father’s body, terrifying legal wrangles with relatives and ultimately the bonding of a whole new family and dynasty.
Additional reporting: Barbara Davies