Country houses for sale

Troy House, a 33-room mansion built by one of Britain’s greatest dukes, now being auctioned off for £200,000

This grand country house just outside Monmouth has an incredible history, unbeatable grandeur and a mind-boggling amount of work to be done.

As you might imagine, we see a lot of property at Country Life. All — or almost all — have something special about them: it might be their history, their grandeur, their beauty, their size, their potential or even their price.

It’s not often, however, that all six of those factors come together in quite such an astonishing combination as at Troy House, which is up for auction on May 28th through Allsop. It’s a Grade II*-listed 17th century mansion in six beautiful acres just outside one of the most charming towns in Wales — Monmouth — with a staggering 29 bedrooms.

There is a great hall, state dining room and a suite of withdrawing rooms, while access to the upper floors is via what is described by Pevsner as ‘a magnificently spacious open-well staircase’ which rises through the house.

The grand central staircase is mentioned in Pevsner, and could be a wonderful feature of the refurbished building.

A chapel on the site has stained glass windows, while there are outbuildings, garaging, cloisters, a theatre and two tennis courts.

And it’s for sale at a guide price of £200,000-£250,000.

The cloisters have seen better days…

There is a catch. Of course there’s a catch, for at this price in the beautiful and easily-accessible tourist town of Monmouth you’re normally looking at a small semi-detached house.

Troy House is an almost total wreck.

Though most of the house dates to the 1680s, some of the original plaster ceilings are even earlier.

The picture here tell their own tale: windows are smashed, flooring ripped up, ceilings collapsed.

There is rubble everywhere, endless grime and dirt, and at one room seems to have been set up as an indoor scooter track.

Buy a dilapidated country house, get a free scooter track.

All of this is a sad state of affairs for a house built on the site of a medieval manor by Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort, as a marital home for his son, Charles, the marquis of Worcester.

Charles died before his father, but the house remained in the family until the Spring of 1901, when the estate was auctioned off along with many other possessions of the Duke of Beaufort. An advert in Country Life from the time gives a few fascinating details.

Troy House advert in Country Life from 8 December 1900, ahead of the auction planned for Spring 1901. The picturesque ivy covering is long gone.

Troy House wasn’t actually sold, however, but instead was handed over to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd for use as a convent school; there is still plenty of evidence of its days an educational establishment.

Some of the classrooms look as if they might only have been vacated a few weeks ago.

It’s been deserted since 1991, and in some areas Nature is trying to take over: there are creepers growing in the chapel, giving it the look of a lost city discovered in some Central American jungle.

That said, there are some habitable rooms: there is a caretaker’s flat, a two-bedroom apartment which appears to be in a perfectly solid state; one of the rooms boasts a four-poster bed, a touch which harks back to the building’s illustrious history.

The four-poster bed in the caretaker’s flat.

And yet that’s a rare bright spot in a building which needs gutting from top to bottom. In short, the buyer might not pay a lot for this site — and Allsop confirm that the seller is ‘happy for the house to be sold at true value’ — but they’ll have to pay far, far more to get the place back into shape.

Despite the current climate Troy House received over 100 enquiries in a week, according to Richard Adamson, Partner and Auctioneer at Allsop.

‘We have seen a mixed-bag of interest from people who could use the property for multiple uses including as a private home, converting into a boutique hotel and spa or refurbished into luxury apartments, subject to planning,’ he adds.

There are all manner of options for where the building goes from here, but buyers should also be aware of the various ups and downs that have surrounded previous redevelopment hopes.

An on-again-off-again scheme to turn Troy House into luxury flats has failed to come to fruition, with concerns about the site’s potential propensity to flooding, and worries over accessing the building via tracks which service the surrounding dairy farm.

The house comes with six acres of gardens, which include a ruin and a former orchard.

Yet it’s clear that both Cadw and the local council are desperate to work with new owners to rescue a building which has been — and could again be — quite astonishing.

‘The property has a committed seller who is happy for the house to be sold at true value,’ adds Richard. ‘As a result, we anticipate some competitive bidding on auction day.’

We’d agree. For the brave souls who take Troy House on, the rewards for getting things right could be enormous; after all, how many people get to say that they live in a house with its own entry at Wikipedia?

Troy House is up for auction via Allsops on 28 May — see more pictures and details, and you can read its Cadw listing here.