By Beth Hale for the Daily Mail
Published: 23:34 GMT, 2 February 2020 | Updated: 08:23 GMT, 3 February 2020
A cherry tree in bloom trails blossom across the glass ceiling, while bronze lizards ascend one wall and a river, full of tropical fish, wends its way under the dining table in waters kept at a precise 23c.
It’s probably best not to have too many glasses of champagne should you ever be a guest at the mega-mansion of Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell.
One slip as you rise from one of those sumptuous, paisley-print, dining chairs and you are likely to get a soggy foot. No need to worry about blossom falling in your dinner, though — the tree is a very convincing and artistic fake.
Welcome to the palatial property that with its estimated £250 million price tag can probably lay claim to being Britain’s most expensive home. Billionaire Caudwell (the 97th richest person in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List), who sold his phones empire for £1.5 billion in 2006, created the 15-bedroom home by joining two Mayfair houses and turning them into one palatial mansion.
The resulting residence covers eight floors and spans more than 43,000 sq ft, a surface area that fits somewhere between the size of Westminster Abbey (32,000 sq ft) and Westminster Cathedral (54,000 sq ft).
Father-of-five Caudwell, 67, has certainly come a long way from the backstreet terrace in Stoke-on-Trent where he grew up; he dropped out of school to work in a tyre factory. Then, in 1987, while living in a caravan — he bought 26 mobile phones. It took a year to sell them, but he had found his niche, and