February 16, 1987 12:00 PM

What’s a Duchess to do when her husband is gone all week? Why, go house hunting, of course, and that’s just what Sarah Ferguson has done. As a result, the good people of the village of Chideock (pronounced Chidduck; pop. 800), 150 miles southwest of London in Thomas Hardy country, will soon have the Duke and Duchess of York as neighbors, plus an influx of tourists. While Andrew was off commanding his squadron of helicopter pilots 40 minutes from Chideock, Fergie found the house—a 30-acre manor with five bedrooms, a nice dining room for 20, a croquet lawn, an outside pool and a Roman Catholic church whose relics include the hair shirt worn by Sir Thomas More, who fell afoul of the crown when alive. “This is even better than the ghost of the cavalier who rides across the main road,” crowed one villager at the news.

Actually, the yellow stone house was second choice. The couple really loved one belonging to Rod Stewart’s manager, but the Queen, mindful of hard times nationwide, declared it too pricey and unseemly. So Andy and his bride settled for the much less showy Chideock Manor, the rent for which, as a courtesy, was set at $350 a week—about half the going rate.

The really good news for the Queen, however, is that Fergie reportedly has promised her another grandchild this year. The new house even has a statue of a stork in its courtyard, although the bird is holding a turtle, not a baby, in its beak. The bad news for Fergie is there isn’t a fish-and-chips place in town, and despite her newly-svelte figure, she is a fish-and-chips nut. Don’t worry. “If Andy wants to order some on his way home,” says Graham Davies, a restaurateur three miles distant, “we’ll have them ready when he comes past.” Two F & C Royals to go, luv.

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