An incredibly rare opportunity has arisen for someone to take on a sprawling 16th century castle in Worcestershire, up for auction with a guide price of just £500,000.
£500,000 doesn’t buy you much in the property market these days.
Nobody will be surprised to hear that such a sum is only enough to get you a one-bedroom flat in Islington. But high prices aren’t limited to London: in a nice part of Cheshire, for example, £500k only stretches to a three-bedroom bungalow. In Reading, it’ll get you a three-bed house near the University. And even in the relatively-remote Severn Valley in Worcestershire, a nice four-bedroom home is what you’d usually expect to land for such a sum.
That makes it all the more surprising that the extraordinary property on this page is up for auction with a guide price of £500,000.
Ribbesford House, originally built by the Herbert family in the mid-16th century, is located on the outskirts of the Worcestershire town of Bewley, not far from Kidderminster.
It’s a grand and impressive Grade II*-listed home which has seen many additions and alterations, but fundamentally retains much of its character – the Herbert coat of arms is even carved in stone into one of the walls.
During the Second World War, Ribbesford was requisitioned as a military facility, housing British, American, Polish and Free French troops – indeed so many of the latter were based here that Charles de Gaulle even paid a visit. There’s actually a monument to the Free French at the house, one which must be preserved as a condition of the sale.
After the war Ribbesford was bought by Wing Commander Howell and his wife, and it is the Howell family who are now, reluctantly, selling up as the property is proving too much for them to care for.
It’s a huge place, extending to 20,000 sq ft in the main building, plus more in the separate four-bedroom cottage which lies within the eight-acre holding.
The architecture is wonderfully grand, inside and out: the octagonal towers can’t help but remind you of the Tower of London, while many original features – including many beautiful windows and wall panelling – still survive. The carved staircase, dating back to the 19th century, is particularly fine.
At this price, however, there has to be a catch, and the pictures on this page reflect that a major investment is now needed to return Ribbesford to its rightful state.
Among the notes for buyers is the presence of asbestos in two of the kitchens, and two known areas of Japanese knotweed in the gardens. What they need not note, since you’ll see it plainly in the images on this page, is that one part of the building’s roof appears to have caved in.
Yet given the low price, we’d imagine many buyers will have plenty left over to take the house on and make it extremely special.
At the moment it is divided into a series of apartments, but could be returned to a single, 20-bedroom dwelling as part of any works which take place.
The gardens are politely described by agents Andrew Grant as ‘awaiting discovery’, and it’s more than just a clever euphemism for ‘overgrown’. In the past Ribbesford has boasted large formal gardens with a fountain, moat, rose gardens, ponds, a shrubbery and even a tennis court.
There is also private woodland intersected by paths, and a bridge over what was once the moat. There is also garaging and stables as part of the property.
You're spoilt for choice if you're upping sticks and swapping city life for the Cotswolds.
Between Christmas and New Year, we're taking a look back at some of our most popular stories of the year…
An apartment within a listed mansion offers a fantastic mix of affordability, practicality and splendour, as these stunning places show.