The 'summer home' that costs £15,000 a month just to heat! Meet the reality TV stars taking on the ultimate fixer-upper – a £5.5 million, 1,000-year-old Kent castle that needs a £23 million refurbishment

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Lympne Castle in Kent is a vast 1,000-year-old, 20-bedroom medieval pile spanning 140 acres and, on a clear day, has exquisite views of France. Now, it has a new lord and lady and a newly-liveried staff.

Ann and Stephen Mulholland, both 63, are a couple of Canadian multi-millionaires who met at a cosmetic surgery convention in New Orleans nearly three decades ago.

‘I knew within 28 seconds that I wanted to marry her,’ surgeon Stephen says.

They jet constantly between their slew of 11 luxury homes, once starred in Real Housewives Of Toronto (in one episode Stephen performed a facelift, live on air), finish each other’s sentences, laugh a lot and are positively sloshing in cash.

Ann and Stephen Mulholland, both 63, (pictured) are a couple of Canadian multi-millionaires who met at a cosmetic surgery convention

Ann and Stephen Mulholland, both 63, (pictured) are a couple of Canadian multi-millionaires who met at a cosmetic surgery convention

Lympne Castle in Kent is a vast 1,000-year-old, 20-bedroom medieval spanning 140 acres

Lympne Castle in Kent is a vast 1,000-year-old, 20-bedroom medieval spanning 140 acres

They are also making quite a splash in their new manor.

After she’d finally talked Stephen round, and some hard bargaining, Ann snapped up the castle in February 2023 for £5.5 million. She reckons it will take another £23 million to bring it up to scratch, but they are already beginning to feel at home here.

‘At first I thought I was blending in very nicely,’ says Ann. ‘But apparently, I don’t look a lot like the people of Kent. I don’t want to rush in, but everyone has been very friendly and welcoming.’

Even so, there have been a few cultural surprises. ‘Why call it a roast dinner when it’s at lunch-time and often it’s not even roasted?’ she cries.

The countryside: ‘Everywhere you go in England there’s sheep and fields.’

And our enthusiasm for queuing. ‘They all line up so nicely,’ marvels Stephen. ‘In North America they’d be brandishing a 9mm gun and shooting.’

But perhaps most importantly, what a Grade-I listing means. ‘I thought it meant First Class, as in really good,’ says Ann. ‘But it actually meant three levels of communications for one chip of paint,’ adds Stephen. ‘A thousand years of English bureaucracy! And there’s so much to do.’

The plan is to revamp everything — plumbing, electrics, lead pipes, the roof, tunnels, the grounds — and turn it into a fabulous venue with rooms, restaurant and bistro.

And, of course, film the whole process as a reality TV show to be aired on UK screens this autumn.

‘We’ll show it all. The staff, the arguments, Ann, the sex.’

‘Oh, Stephen…’

T he final episode will feature their wedding.

This will be their fifth, or is it sixth, wedding — hard to keep track. As they own a castle, these nuptials will have ‘a medieval theme’, says Stephen.

Their first wedding was on a beach in 1997. But money was tighter then — before they had sold their respective businesses: his, a cosmetic surgery spa; hers, a fin-tech company, which sold for more than $500 million.

Come 2008, what with a global recession, Ann’s sister being ill and her mother breaking her neck, they decided they all needed cheering up with a second wedding.

‘You’ve got to celebrate and have fun, or what’s the point?’ says Stephen. It was circus-themed with 470 guests. ‘You can imagine — 200 plastic surgeons and their wives! We had to turn the heat down, so they didn’t melt.’

The plan is to revamp everything ¿ plumbing, electrics, lead pipes, the roof, tunnels, the grounds

The plan is to revamp everything — plumbing, electrics, lead pipes, the roof, tunnels, the grounds

The couple plan to film the whole process as a reality TV show to be aired on UK screens this autumn

The couple plan to film the whole process as a reality TV show to be aired on UK screens this autumn

‘I was lowered down on a wire,’ Ann cuts in. ‘It was such fun.’

So much so that they decided to do it every five years. And each time upgrade the ring with a bigger and better diamond.

The whopper perched on her finger today is a 24.5-carat, baguette-cut beauty.

‘It drags her hand to the floor!’ Stephen laughs.

Another wedding theme was Thai, with the ceremony held in Bangkok ‘attended by over a thousand villagers and aired on national TV,’ says Stephen.

‘And the Scottish one,’ Ann interjects. ‘Oh yes, in Edinburgh. We went full tartan for the whole Scottish look and an owl was going to swoop down with the ring, but it was too heavy — that was the 20-carat diamond — and it hit the ground!’

But, anyway… back to Lympne, where the fires are roaring, the heating (which costs £15,000 a month) is on full blast — ‘this was supposed to be our summer home for when Vegas gets too hot, but it’s not very warm here’ — and Ann is swathed in caramel velvet. She reveals the state of the place when they bought it: room after room full of rubbish, beetles, rats, not to mention the horrifying surveyor’s report.

‘It was thicker than the King James Bible and cost us £40,000,’ says Stephen. The previous owners had used the main rooms as a wedding venue, and let the rest fall to bits.

When Ann heard that dozens of weddings had been cancelled, she immediately reinstated them, knocked 20 per cent off the price and then ran around trying to get the place ready.

She drew the line at a marquee — ‘so ugly’ — and is converting a paddock into a 120-seat wedding venue, instead.

Suddenly, Stephen interrupts: ‘Hang on. We haven’t shown her our move. Let’s do the move!’

And so up they leap and point their arms in the sky.

‘It stands for onwards and upwards,’ he says.

‘Because there’s life and there’s death and everything in between should be celebrated,’ adds Ann. ‘We’ve put it on the castle logo.’

On and on, they chatter — about her (funny) Instagram reels, how she dresses him every day to accessorise her look, and the perils of the First Class section on a plane being full. ‘Once I sat in coach and he was in First Class,’ says Ann. ‘And to shame him, I wrote on the sick bag ‘My wife is in economy’ and stuck it behind his head.’

The Mulhollands are funny, warm, daft and very, very rich (thought to be worth at least half a billion pounds). But behind all the glamour, they are both extremely driven.

Stephen has been a professional ice hockey player, flirted with dentistry before studying medicine and was a pioneer in Canada’s cosmetic surgery industry.

He had a ‘starter marriage’ in his 20s — ‘doesn’t everyone?’. Set up his own clinic where he operated on A-listers. Sold it. Drank too much. Ate even more. Made more millions through a medical device company. Gave up drinking in 2016 and has since lost 70lb, and allows himself only five hours of sleep a night.

The Mulhollands are funny, warm, daft and very, very rich (thought to be worth at least half a billion pounds)

The Mulhollands are funny, warm, daft and very, very rich (thought to be worth at least half a billion pounds)

The heating at Lympne Castle in Hythe, Kent (pictured) costs £15,000 a month

The heating at Lympne Castle in Hythe, Kent (pictured) costs £15,000 a month

‘That way, over your entire life you’ll average 7,000 more days.’

Even so, he seems a slouch compared with Ann, who has so many letters after her name it’s dizzying, including an MBA and a doctorate.

She has written two books, is a coach, has been ordained in Canada and recently won an award at a stand-up comedy event for business CEOs.

All of that after an awful childhood — ‘lots of abuse’, is all she’ll say — followed by what she calls ‘the big reveal’. When she was 12, it transpired she was not, in fact, adopted (the reason her parents had given for why she had darker skin than her siblings) but the result of a holiday fling between her mother and a Hawaiian entertainer.

When she tracked down her biological father, she discovered 13 half-siblings, one of whom cried: ‘Oh Dad, not another one!’

‘He fornicated his way through the tourists,’ she says.

She also had a starter marriage, and when she met Stephen was nervous about trying again. Or perhaps a little put off by his proposal less than half a minute in. ‘I knew I was her magnetic north the minute I saw her across a crowded bar,’ he says. She finally agreed to a date after 18 months, and they’ve been together ever since.

Both had two children already and they had two more together and became guardians of Ann’s late sister’s two children.

At one stage, as well as Ann’s mum with her broken neck, they had an Ethiopian family living with them in Toronto — Stephen was reconstructing the daughter’s cleft palate.

Of his wife’s look, Stephen beams proudly: ‘Doesn’t she look amazing — sort of unnaturally natural?’

She has no intention of letting nature take its course.

‘You have to start early so you’re not always chasing to keep up,’ she advises. ‘But you make it sound like I live on a surgical table!’ she tells her husband off.

Ann snapped up the castle in February 2023 for £5.5 million. She reckons it will take another £23 million to bring it up to scratch

Ann snapped up the castle in February 2023 for £5.5 million. She reckons it will take another £23 million to bring it up to scratch

Ann has written two books, is a coach, has been ordained in Canada and recently won an award at a stand-up comedy event for business CEOs

Ann has written two books, is a coach, has been ordained in Canada and recently won an award at a stand-up comedy event for business CEOs

‘No, no, that was when you were younger!’ he flashes back. ‘Of course, we believe in health from the inside out. But occasionally there are some anti-gravitational things that need to be done.’

Not by Stephen, though. In Canada it is illegal to operate on your partner.

‘So we surgeons have a little circuit and operate on each other’s wives. It’s like a barter system,’ he says.

Sometimes he puts his foot down. ‘When I thought I’d put on a pound, I asked Stephen: ‘Should I do liposuction?’

‘And he said: ‘No — just go for a jog.’

It was when their son, Chase, left home, leaving Ann devastated, that they decided they needed a new adventure.

And today, as they marvel at their new home, they couldn’t be happier.

‘We’re going to light the whole thing up so you can see it from the Channel,’ says Ann.

Last autumn, they had a hog roast and invited all the locals.

After their 50 expected guests turned into 1,800, the 600lb of hog soon went.

‘It was wonderful,’ Stephen says. ‘Some were so happy to be back they were crying.’

One problem, of course, if you’re worth hundreds of millions, is how to keep your children’s feet on the ground?

‘Oh, we’re not leaving them a dime,’ says Stephen. ‘We’re going to spend the lot and we’ve told them that, because it’s never really been about the money. We just like to enjoy life and have fun.’

‘We’re not even very materialistic,’ laughs Ann. ‘After all, we only have one castle.’