A CHARISMATIC art lover, hotelier and gin-maker Martin Miller died on Christmas Eve, aged 67.
Synonymous with antiques and good living, Mr Miller turned Great Brampton House into a playful wonderland of artists, antiques and giant sculptures.
More than a hotel, it stands as a fitting bricks and mortar tribute to a man, himself an artist, whose tastes and endeavours swept from vintage to the cutting edge of the contemporary.
“Great Brampton House enabled Martin Miller to act out his passion for contemporary art,” said Dmitri Galitzine, who along with Craig Barnes, established and took up residency at the property’s 6,000 square foot gallery Down Stairs in 2011.
“Martin invited a plethora of different artists who would congregate in the old stable building.
“Some would come for a week and others stayed for years. Martin would treat them like old friends.
“It was a constant hive of activity. Martin would find inspiration in this, and was often making his own sculptures, assisted by the resident artists.
“His work was playful, he loved to use double entendre to shock and amuse in equal measure.”
The Regency period house and its grounds, which he took over in 2008, became a vast museum of his work, and of others.
A 10ft high Victorian iron flattened the croquet lawn, a UFO complete with retro kitchen just next to it.
Inside, contemporary touches appear alongside an enviable collection of antiques – the field in which Mr Miller, whose name for 20 years featured on the hugely successful Miller’s Antique Price Guide, first rose to prominence.
This rise followed less renowned ventures into photography and the publication of an etiquette guide entitled 'Success with the Fairer Sex'.
However, alongside antiques, Mr Miller – an instinctive entrepreneur who had failed his 11-plus ¬– soon found two avenues more suited to his talents; boutique gin and boutique hotels.
In 1999, he launched Martin Miller’s Gin in North London with friends Andrea Versteegh and David Bromige.
The award-winning gin, created in order to breathe new life into a spirits market the three friends believed was being taken over by vodka, is now sold in bars across the world.
“It’s a gin that these days is much copied but never equalled,” said a spokesman for brand owners The Reformed Spirits Company.
“With Martin Miller’s Gin, Martin was an inspiration and a genius, an iconoclast and a genuine English eccentric.”
That eccentricity could be found in every corner of Miller’s Hideaway, the name given to the 10 bedroom Madley hotel-come-stately home.
It was the latest in a line of successful country hotels, coastal getaways and inner-city slices of bygone luxury – each graced with the personal touch of the Worthing antiques mogul.
He is survived by his third wife Ioana Beju, who he married in 2001, and five daughters.