LOCKDOWN is the perfect time for budding novelists to produce their first masterpiece.

Where better to make a start than the grand Victorian rectory where Peter James has written 14 of his best-selling books?

The Brighton-born author has put his mansion in Woodmancote for sale with an asking price of £2.85 million.

The Old Rectory has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a home cinema, tennis courts, a swimming pool and lake.

The property also has 7.68 acres of land, including paddocks which are home to several alpacas.

It was the inspiration for the best-selling ghost story The House On Cold Hill.

It also featured as the home of crime-fighting Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.

Mr James, who writes in an office above the garage, is currently living in Jersey, where there are “less distractions”.

The novelist, who has lived at the house with wife Lara since 2011, said he hopes to find a new base along Brighton seafront when lockdown ends.

The 71-year-old has been connected to Brighton for most of his life and regularly goes out with members of Sussex Police for inspiration for the Roy Grace series.

The stunning property also features a basement which could be a self-contained flat with a bedroom and living room with a kitchenette and shower room, but Mr James has used it as a cinema room and wine cellar.

It contains his collection of police memorabilia, built up from his book promotion travels where police officers often give him things such as badges, helmets or even entire uniforms.

Mr James said: “I’ve used all the homes I’ve lived in in my books, in various guises. I think every house has a feeling and I’ve often walked into houses and thought to myself, for whatever reason, I could not write here.

“But the very first moment I went into this house I just knew it would be a wonderful place to write. Countless guests have remarked on just how friendly the house feels.

“It is a great and very rare period property and would make a wonderful family home.”

The Old Rectory is on the market with House Partnership.

l The new Roy Grace novel Find Them Dead is out on July 9.