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Tales of a village madam

As Soho meets Somerset, one woman spills the beans about making a living as a brothel-keeper and madam in a typical English village and her struggle with the local authorities keen to prosecute her. Forget home-made jam and singing 'Jerusalem', this is the real side of country living in the UK.

Claire Finch, who prefers the term courtesan rather than prostitute, began working as an aromatherapist and masseuse at the age of 17, when she married. When she divorced 15 years later, she applied for a job as an aromatherapist, prepared to 'lend a hand' to clients to help them reach a 'happy ending'. From that point on, she realised her true vocation and ended up in a quiet cul-de-sac in a Bedfordshire village, which would soon see out-of-towners arriving on her doorstep from miles around, looking for 'happy endings' of their own.

Claire tells the Guardian Online website that she has never had a problem with her neighbours as she maintains a discreet profile for her business: 'the only thing the neighbours are likely to see are a few cows or sheep wandering in from the farmer's field that backs on to my garden.' A kind local farmer even gave her a lamb to roast when she moved in. Maybe pork was too suggestive?

When the local authorities later tried to charge Claire with offences related to keeping a brothel, her loyal customers supported her 100% when her case went to court. She was eventually cleared. We're guessing that setting up a petition to support her at the local town-hall might have raised more than a few eyebrows...

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