Stage and screen legend Angela Lansbury died on October 11, 2022, at the age of 96. Best known for her role on the television show Murder, She Wrote, which ran from 1984 to 1996 and spawned four made-for-TV movies, Lansbury was an Oscar and Emmy nominee many times over, and the winner of five Tony Awards and six Golden Globes. Born in London in 1925, she came to the United States as a teenager during WWII, and spent the early years of her career in California. She married talent agent Peter Shaw in 1949, and they had two children, Anthony and Deirdre (Peter also had a son, David, from a previous marriage).
When both of her children struggled with drugs in the late 1960s (her daughter, Lansbury revealed in a 2014 interview, “was in with a crowd led by Charles Manson”), she decided to move the family from Malibu to County Cork, Ireland. They spent the 1970s there; later, while filming Murder, She Wrote in Los Angeles, Lansbury felt the pull of Ireland again. She and Shaw purchased a piece of land in the Irish countryside in 1992 and constructed a charming farmhouse, which AD visited for the June 2007 issue, which celebrated country homes around the world.
Below, revisit the tour of Lansbury’s beloved refuge.
Her mother was born there. Her husband, Peter, and she raised their children there. But living and working in America, while filming Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury had a longing for the quieter, gentler countryside she fondly remembered: “I decided to have a piece of Ireland again. I missed it terribly, and Peter went along with it.”
Every summer for five years, she and her husband took a room in a hotel in Cork, on the southeast coast, and searched for a modest retreat where their family and friends could convene around the dinner table that she loves to set with generously simple meals. “I am a good plain cook, an enthusiastic cook,” she says. “I enjoy food tremendously. It’s comforting and a wonderful way to bring people together.”
But nothing quite suited them. One day, while they were staying with friends in their country house, she took a long walk that led to a field of wildflowers and grass, and a meadow beyond, on a cliff overlooking the sea. The ocean, the meadow and the windy quietude all enchanted her. “What a lovely place to build our house, I thought. There something wonderful about looking out at sea and the nothingness. It was tranquil and calming,” she says.
It became a house that friendship built. Stephen Pearce, the son of an old and dear friend, lived 15 minutes away in a house he had constructed. A potter, he understood what Lansbury was looking for because he had created a version of the vision himself, a house inspired by the traditional masonry farmhouses with slate roofs.