Country houses for sale

A house on Britain’s most famously picturesque street, for sale at just £150,000

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury is world famous for its extraordinary beauty, charm and views — and if you'd like to live there, a house is about to go under the hammer for an absolute song. But let's just say you need to take a look at the pictures before you start bidding...

There are places in Britain that showcase effortlessly charming architecture. And there are spots where the beauty of the countryside and views will bring a tear to the eye.

Few spots, however, marry the two quite as perfectly as Gold Hill, in Shaftesbury, once described in Country Life by Jason Goodwin as the ‘absurdly picturesque Gold Hill, a steep ribbon of medieval houses overlooking the Blackmore Vale.’

It became perhaps the most famous rural street in the country as if 1973, when a young director called Ridley Scott (yes, that Ridley Scott) used it as the location for a television advert for Hovis bread.

The advert tapped in to an extraordinary seam of nostalgia for the passing of the age; it has since been endlessly reworked, spoofed, and then (perhaps the ultimate accolade) restored in 2019 by no less an institution than the BFI.

The idea of living in such an idyllic spot, then, is a tempting one; and all the more so when you hear that the property in question is a three-bedroom detached cottage that’s up for auction with a guide price of just £150,000.

So much for the good news. The bad news is… well, pretty much everything else, for there’s no getting away from it: 16 Gold Hill is in a sorry state, needing pretty much everything doing. The work has been started, including (apparently) some work on an extension, according to the agents Symonds & Sampson.

As it stands, the property has three reception rooms and a kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms on the first floor, and a further bedroom on the second floor. They don’t specify where the bathroom(s) are, and somewhat worryingly there’s nothing marked on the floorplan; perhaps there’s simply an outdoor lavvy, for that authentic 1920s feel.

The boarded-up window… the warning sticker on the door… we feel that none of these are good signs. But the potential is beyond belief.

Any work that does need doing will have to take into account the fact that the house is Grade II-listed. And while it’s located on Gold Hill, it’s not on the famous cobbled stretch, but instead on a less picturesque tarmacced bit around the corner.

Then again, one of the homes on the cobbled section went on the market earlier this year for £650,000, so you’re making quite a saving. And you’ll have far fewer tourists taking pictures of your house, which (as any resident of a similarly picturesque village will tell you) can get a little wearing at busy times.

16 Gold Hill is up for auction through Symonds & Sampson on 22 October — see more details and pictures.