This week I’ve been on the look-out for a castle, though a country house, or manor would do.. It’s a pretty loose brief. Frankly if it’s big and old, it’s worth a look. Long story, and may come to nothing but it’s been an interesting excursion in to this fairytale world and worth sharing I thought.
So, for those with a crenellation fixation here’s what you can get for your millions, how you can get a castle on the cheap and how you can make your country mansion pay.
Castles are cheaper than you think
Sure, they’re expensive to run and insure, there are strict rules about what you can and can’t do to them, they fall apart if not maintained and they’re not exactly convenient for nipping down to the Kings Road for a latte but all this means is that there are some really good deals to be had.
Take Woodlands Vale, Ryde, Isle of Wight for instance. At £2.65m, OK it only has a meagre 9.5 acres but what a place! and it’s a 20 min speed boat ride to Portsmouth and just 1.5 hrs to Waterloo. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-44374811.html
Then there’s Quernmore Park. Lancashire. Quernmore is a grade II listed Georgian House, was built in 1795, has 10 bedrooms and comes with 20.6 acres of land. http://search.knightfrank.co.uk/cho080475. A steal surely at £2.5m
But don’t take my word for it. This is what £2.5m gets you in St James, London
Need I say more…
Good things come to those who wait
You can snap up a great castle deal if you’re willing to play a waiting game. Selling castles is a tricky business. Yes there’s been an influx of foreign money, but sellers still well-outnumber buyers. There is no ‘going rate’ when it comes to castles. Agents price speculatively and if nothing comes back, the price is often dropped a few months in. For those with patience and a bit of trust, holding your nerve can save you £millions
Take Westbury castle, Prestatyn, North Wales. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2417828/Westbury-Castle-described-Wales-Downton-Abbey-sale-5m.html.
Described as a late regency manor, with 7 acres of open parkland, 14 bedrooms, a 3 bed detached lodge, stables (soon to be a 5-bed house) & beautiful sea views, at £5m it’s a absolute bargain right?
But wait. Move forwards 4 months and what’s that? It’s down to £1.59m (well done Zoopla on the ‘new-build’ tag on the picture by the way)
The deal to beat all deals though – Bovey Castle, Devon. A 64-bedroom country house hotel on Dartmoor. Bought for £26.4m in 2006 from Peter de Savery by a property investment company and ‘Hotels & Resorts’. Things didn’t go well. 6 years later they sold for £14m. Ouch! ..and it’s now one of the top hotels in the South West. http://search.knightfrank.co.uk/hte070041
Lose a bit of land and save you a fortune
Quenby Hall in Leicestershire is a Grade 1 Jacobean Manor owned by the de Lisle family. It’s a 1000 acre estate and until recently, was home to a 200 year-old stilton dairy. Things went bad a couple of years ago. The dairy folded with £250k debt thanks in part, to a Listeria outbreak.
It’s listed at £12m for the house and all the land, but settle for 250 acres and it’s yours for just £5.5m
It may pay to buy the business too
Nowadays your average castle owner, whether it be a family, investment firm or Hollywood a-lister (ok perhaps not) is trying all sorts of interesting ways to make their property pay. Choose carefully and there’s an exciting array of businesses opportunities on offer.
How about a Hotel, Spa or wedding venue?:
Otterburn Hall, Newcastle. £2m. http://commercialsearch.savills.co.uk/property-detail/2582
..or my personal favourite.. The Elms, Worcestershire. £5m. http://commercialsearch.savills.co.uk/property-detail/2783
Perhaps the cheese-making business at Quenby? which comes with a right to use the coveted ‘Stilton’ badge. http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Business-News/Sale-hopes-dashed-for-historic-Stilton-producer
A Scottish country pursuit estate maybe? Gledfield Hall is an 8 bedroom house with 5,000 acres of moor and heath on the banks of the River Carron in Sutherland. Here you can enjoy duck flighting, pheasant and grouse shooting, deer stalking and salmon fishing http://www.countrylife.co.uk/property/uk/properties/4663028/sales
Or a former school and one-time nursing home? Cransford Hall is a 1910 Edwardian mansion in Norfolk. It’s been an 18 bedroom girls boarding house in the past and more recently a residential care home. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-36228088.html
..and what if money’s no object?
Well, there are a few £20m-£30m country piles on the market. The priciest and arguably the best- Kingstone Lisle House, Oxfordshire at £35m. http://search.struttandparker.com/residential/kingston-lisle-wantage-oxfordshire-ox12/14695 Nice of Strutt & Parker to point out Waitrose – a free morning coffee and paper for the lucky owners!
Meanwhile, to indulge you one last time. What £32.5m gets you in Mayfair http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-45178781.html.
Oxfordshire for me I think. I’ll get the train in..