Wealthy City businessmen have been scrapping hard to buy the few large country estates for sale in the south of England, but now a stunning new launch is set to test the northern market.
Smiths Gore’s Andrew Turner is handling the sale of the 2350-acre Middleton Hall Estate at Belford in Northumberland, 13 miles from Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Included in the £8m guide price is a large Victorian mansion, a pheasant shoot, three let farms and 29 other cottages and houses.
Since 1948, the estate, which was created by the Leather family in 1871, has been owned as an investment by Greenwich Hospital, a charity, which helps serving and retired members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
The house, originally surrounded by Italianate grounds, has been split into five large apartments, but Mr Turner said there was huge potential to recreate the Victorian “pleasure ground” it had been designed as. “For £10m you could have something really special.”
All the farms are let under traditional tenancies. At 770 acres Swinhoe Farm is the largest and includes 350 acres of arable soil.The annual rent is £25,300. Greymare Farm is a 538-acre livestock unit with an eight-bedroom house and a rent of £13,000.
Kettleburn Farm is let for £12,000 and comes with 267 acres of grass and arable land.
Each of the farms is available separately, but Mr Turner said he was hopeful that the estate would sell as a whole to somebody who would return it to its former glory.
Whether Northumberland is too far for City buyers to venture remains to be seen, but Mr Turner said he wasn’t relying on them.
“You shouldn’t underestimate the strength of the northern market, there is a hell of a lot of money in Newcastle.”
One thing is for sure, your money goes a lot further in the north. An estate closer to London with the same potential as Middleton could easily fetch double, or even triple, its asking price.
Compton Castle is a case in point. Although the 1270-acre Somerset property at Compton Pauncefoot, near Wincanton, is “possibly England’s most romantic estate”, according to Clive Hopkins of selling agent Knight Frank, it does come with a £22m asking price.
For that you get a 12-bedroom Grade II listed castellated house set in 40 acres of landscaped gardens and a 995-acre farm, although this is let under an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy.