Country houses for sale

A charming, Grade II-listed house with its own ancient tortoise

Grade II-listed The Old Dairy, in Box, Wiltshire, has four bedrooms, a lovely sitting room with open fire—and a 94-year-old tortoise living in the walled garden.

The buyers of the Old Dairy, in Box, Wiltshire, won’t only get a Grade II-listed house dating originally from the 16th century; they’ll also become the proud owners of Hercules, the resident tortoise.

Hercules, who, despite the name, is a female tortoise, has been living in the walled garden at the back of the four-bedroom property for at least the past 14 years when the current owners bought The Old Dairy—and probably a lot longer. The 94-year-old tortoise has lived through the two World Wars and only narrowly missed the 19th-century renovation works that made the house, which is for sale through Hunter French at an asking price of £825,000, what it is today.

Hercules the tortoise

She’s also a relatively low-maintenance guest, hibernating from October to April and living on a diet of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes. But the new owners of The Old Dairy will enjoy more than brushing shoulders with the village celebrity, which Hercules most definitely is.

The Old Dairy, Box, Wiltshire

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The house comes with 2687sq ft of living space laid across three floors, with the kitchen, reception rooms and conservatory on the ground floor—including a delightful sitting room with open fire—and the four bedrooms upstairs. The top floor bedroom, in particular, has its own living space, making it perfect for guests or teenagers in need of a little privacy.

The Old Dairy, Box, Wiltshire

Outside, the gardens are split into different spaces: beyond Hercules’ walled domain, there’s a side garden with patio area and a lawned front garden with an outbuilding that was converted into a café but could be put to different uses.

The Old Dairy, Box, Wiltshire

‘The Old Dairy is an incredibly charming home filled with character and would make for a wonderful family home,’ says Lauren Walsh of Hunter French. ‘Although Hercules the tortoise is undeniably one of the most popular characters in the local village, Box itself has a lovely sense of community and offers great places to spend days out with family and friends, whether this be in the great outdoors or at one of the welcoming pubs or restaurants on offer.’

The Old Dairy, Box, Wiltshire

The Old Dairy is for sale at £825,000 via Hunter French — see more pictures or enquire with the agent for further details.

Box: What you need to know

  • Location: Box is situated in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, three miles from Corsham and five from Bath (to which it is linked by bus)
  • Atmosphere:A thriving village, it has a very active community, with many events—including the Box Rocks music festival—held at the local recreation ground. Other facilities include a doctor’s surgery, post office, three pubs and a restaurant, a butcher’s, a pharmacy, a small supermarket and two cafes
  • Things to do: The Box Tunnel — once the longest railway tunnel in the world — is well worth a visit. There’s also a lovely circular walk taking in long views of the countryside and of course Bath, with its shopping, culture and entertainment, is only five miles away
  • Schools: Box Church of England Primary Schoo
    is rated good by Ofsted.