Thursday, November 26, 2020

An orgy of a mansion

Repossessed Somerset mansion goes to auction for just £250,000

 

It’s rare to find Grade I mansions in the hands of the receivers, but Halswell Park in Somerset is an exception to that rule. Now, Clive Emson auctioneers on behalf of Citi Private Banking, seek just £250,000 to £500,000 for the main house and £635,000 to £960,000 for the entire estate.

 

Halswell Park, Goathurst, Somerset, TA5 2DH in better times
Halswell Park, Goathurst, Somerset, TA5 2DH in better times

The grounds are now an overgrown wilderness
The grounds are now an overgrown wilderness

 

Described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as “the most important house of its date in the country” and as “possibly the most perfect house in the British Isles” by Marcus Binney, Halswell Park is in part Tudor and in part Palladian. With over 13,000 square foot of accommodation that includes 15 to 20 bedrooms, a ballroom, banqueting hall and library, this is quite a party pad.

 

Variously owned by Sir Nicholas Halswell (1566 – 1633), Sir Halswell Tynte (1649 – 1702) and the 9th Lord Wharton (1908 – 1969), Halswell Park served as a girls’ school and a camp for Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War. A fire in 1923 did extensive damage to the house but this was restored “at great expense” by Wharton – who then “caused great scandal” by “moving to London with his boyfriend”. The estate was then sold in 1950 and the house converted into apartments before being bought by a Muslim group.

 

Grahame Bond outside Halswell Park
Grahame Bond outside Halswell Park

Guests at the Little Sins orgy in the mansion
Guests at the Little Sins orgy in the mansion

Stella Bond wasn't giving up Halswell Park without a fight
Stella Bond wasn’t giving up Halswell Park without a fight

Purchased by a Millfield educated property developer named Grahame Bond for £1.94 million in 2004, Halswell Park subsequently underwent an £800,000 renovation and was used as a party and wedding venue. Amongst the events held there during his tenure was a £65 per head orgy organised by a Dutch events company called Little Sins in July 2009.

 

Reports at the time stated that Bond, who was paid £9,000 to rent the house, was forced to “send his younger members of staff home and called [the] police” but they were “powerless to act because it was a private party”. Despite the company’s name, Bond claimed he did not realise “that that meant it would be an orgy”. Speaking to the Daily Mail’s Richard Kay, Bond recounted the evening:

 

“One of the organisers announced: ‘The moment has come. The spell has begun’… And within minutes, the entire assembly began kissing and shortly afterwards having sex. One of my staff came up to me and said: ‘You have to see this!’ And I couldn’t believe my eyes. I realised it was a swingers party. Everywhere there were couples having sex. Over the banisters alone I counted four couples at it”.

 

In a separate incident, when Halswell Park was repossessed in July 2012 when he defaulted on a £4.1 million mortgage, Bond’s 78-year old mother, Stella Bond, staged a three day sit-in in the library to try and prevent bailiffs gaining possession of the property. At the time, she commented:

 

“They were quite intimidating but I stayed put.  One man was quite irritating – he thought he could move me by talking to me, but of course he couldn’t. My son had a dream for a long time to put a stately home back together again. It is beautiful – I was not going to let it go”.

 

An opulently decorated reception room in a photograph taken prior to Halswell Park's repossession
An opulently decorated reception room in a photograph taken prior to Halswell Park’s repossession

The mansion was used for weddings and functions under the ownership of Graeme Bond
The mansion was used for weddings and functions under the ownership of Grahame Bond

Before and after: The decline of the interior is apparent but the building's beauty remains
Before and after: The decline of the interior is apparent but the building’s beauty remains

The deterioration of the main house is apparent in these two images
The deterioration of the main house is apparent in these two images

A new owner will need to carry out extensive renovations to the Grade I listed property
A new owner will need to carry out extensive renovations to the Grade I listed property

The estate includes five secondary properties
The estate includes five secondary properties

Larger than life auctioneer Clive Emson with sell Halswell Park on the 17th December
Larger than life auctioneer Clive Emson with sell Halswell Park on the 17th December

A limitation is that Halswell Park only comes with 31 acres and that several parcels of land and a property, The Old Farmhouse, close to the main house are now separately owned. In addition, the Temple of Harmony, an 18th century folly that was originally part of the estate’s parkland within the 19 acre Mill Wood, was also sold earlier this year by separate owners. Here, indeed, is an estate that, like a jigsaw, needs putting back together.

 

Clive Emson – best known for his appearances on Homes Under The Hammer – will auction Halswell Park at the St Mellion International Resort in Cornwall on 17th December 2013 at 11am.

 

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. They’re plainly pricing it low to start a bidding war. Looks like there is a lot wrong with it. Bond claimed to have spent £2m on renovations in another article. It doesn’t show.

  2. Shame it’s been messed up so badly. If not, I’d be bidding. Only a fool would take it on without getting all the bits that have been sold off.

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