Cornwall is in Vogue as popstar Madonna buys second home in Falmouth
The most closely-guarded celebrity secret of the year has leaked out – the Queen of Pop has fallen for Cornwall's tranquil charm and become its most illustrious second home owner.
Madonna – the world's highest-earning female recording artist – is said to have bagged a riverside home in the Falmouth area.
And by swearing to secrecy a string of hand-picked tradesmen and suppliers, the star is even claimed to have renovated the secluded mansion without so much as a ripple in the media.
News of the move emerged after a routine press release from a Cornish housing association made casual reference to the singer as the latest addition to the town's celebrity roster.
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Inquiries by the Western Morning News revealed the source – a senior officer and keen Madonna fan. The woman's love for the singer had proved too much for one resident, who had cracked and revealed the secret.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said the US star had moved to "a big detached house overlooking the water as you would expect" six months ago.
She refused to pinpoint the property but said it was "not on the Helford".
"I am expecting to see her on the high street at any time," she said. "Someone broke the news to me because I am such a fan – I am amazed that no one knew."
Tim Light, who runs the King Harry Ferry link to the exclusive Roseland peninsula and regularly sees famous names climbing aboard, said he "would not be surprised" if Madge had moved to the area.
"There are some beautiful properties on the Roseland and it would tend to attract people like that," said Mr Light, managing director of Cornwall Ferries Limited.
"There are a couple of estates which have been up for sale – one at Ruan Creek and another at Portscatho."
Asked if such a big star could go unnoticed, he said "people just respect their privacy and let them get on".
Staff at the luxury Tresanton hotel near St Mawes, whose sister hotel the Endsleigh on Dartmoor accommodated director Steven Spielberg last week, were remaining tight-lipped.
One worker, who gave her name as Susan, said A-list stars were regular visitors to the hotel but said she had not seen Madonna.
Teresa Timms of VisitCornwall said stars living in the county were "a magical draw".
"There has to be a balance between respecting their privacy and the benefits brought to the industry but they really raise the profile of the county," she added.