Want to get on the property ladder? Now could be your chance. A Grade II-listed cottage in the Midlands is up for auction next week with a starting price of just £1 – the cost of a packet of crisps.
Near Sutton Coldfield, north of Birmingham, the detached stone building is called High Heath Cottage – though it also goes by another name. Locally, it is nicknamed Mutton Castle, after a man once barricaded himself inside with a stolen sheep.
Built in the 1530s by a bishop and former advisor to Henry VIII, the property is one of a small number of stone houses not found anywhere else in England. It was originally intended for his servants, who would keep order for him.
In the 19th century, High Heath Cottage was part of the Moor Hall Estate and was occupied by farm labourers.
The stone house has a hall, kitchen, bathroom and reception room on the ground floor, a bedroom with ensuite WC on the first floor, and two further bedrooms above.
“This property has a fascinating history and the appearance of a mini watchtower, looking out across the valley to a lonely stretch of the old coach road, now the A446, where highwaymen could lurk,” says Gurpreet Bassi, chief executive at auctioneers Bond Wolfe.
“The present day High Heath Cottage stands alone in the landscape much as it did nearly 500 years ago.”
With exposed wooden rafters, a stone spiral staircase and a wood burner in the living room, it could be a rural idyll – but there is a catch. The property is currently vacant and has fallen into disrepair.
Although High Heath Cottage is suitable for development, Bassi says it “requires refurbishment and modernisation within the Grade II* building and green belt regulations, as well as the usual planning permission.”
Although the property could, in theory, be purchased for a pound, the highest bidder will also need to pay an administration fee of £1,680, as well as stamp duty. According to Bassi, the renovations will require “substantial investment”.
Still, with the average price of a detached house in England at £498,000, there is the potential for a bargain here – and for Mutton Castle’s former glory to finally be restored.
The auction, which will be livestreamed, will take place at 9am on Wednesday 14 December. Those interested should register in advance, and can bid by proxy, telephone or online.