Nick Rosen | |
amy winehouse in london street
Amy: off-grid therapy

Amy Winehouse couldn’t take it but others have found hope across the causeway. A bleak island off the Essex coast is becoming the celebrity rehab clinic of choice.

Osea Island seems an unlikely place of refuge. It rises from the sea off the Essex coast, cut off from the land apart from an ancient stone causeway that uncovers for an hour or so at each low tide. The narrow link looks daunting, with deep water on each side, and the glistening rocks lend a forbidding air to the scene.

Hidden inside the woods that cover the island is a medieval village and, nearby, a red-brick manor with its own power and water supply. There are no signs to reveal it is in fact a clinic called The Causeway, a place little known outside the exclusive circles of the rich and famous. This was where Amy Winehouse came for treatment after her collapse following an overdose of drinks and drugs.

As the lyrics of her song, Rehab, might suggest, she didn’t stay long: ‘They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no. I’m not gonna spend 10 weeks have everyone think I’m on the mend …’

She spent less than 48 hours at The Causeway before leaving in a helicopter for London to have a brain scan. She met up with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil who took her to the London Clinic. After a night in the capital she flew back to Osea but left after a further few days. Others fighting addictions have stayed. The island clinic is fast becoming the rehab of choice for celebrities and the very wealthy.

Those who might once have checked into The Priory in Roehampton or the Betty Ford Clinic in America, are now taking a 20-minute helicopter flight from London to Osea. Count Gottfried von Bismarck, the great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany’s Iron Chancellor and founder of the modern republic, spent six weeks on the island shortly before his death last month.

Von Bismarck, an exotic and louche hedonist, was an alcoholic and heavy cocaine user. At Oxford he was blamed after Olivia Channon, the daughter of Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet minister Paul Channon (later Lord Kelvedon), was found dead on his bed after overdosing on heroin. Von Bismarck had a reputation for hosting drink- and drug-fuelled orgies. Given to camp outfits that often included fishnet stockings, he drifted between society and London’s demi-monde.

Last August a young man fell to his death from a window at von Bismarck’s

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