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OPULENCE & SPLENDOUR

Luxury and the arts From houses to cars and from Hockney to van Dyck, a profile of the best and the worst

Drugs and Dents

A Cumbrian mansion built by opium traders and more recently used by cannabis growers comes to the market for just £1.5 million

 

Built by the well-known Dent family, who made their fortune trading both tea and opium, Flass is a vast 23,000 square foot Palladian mansion on the outskirts of the village of Maulds Meaburn in Cumbria. Ironically it was also the setting for one of the country’s biggest drug raids in May 2012.

 

An aerial shot illustrates the vast size of Flass
An aerial shot illustrates the vast size of Flass

Priced at just £1.5 million – a figure wouldn’t even cover the cost of a basement flat in London’s Knightsbridge – this 8-bedroomed limestone faced residence comes with a three-storey tower and secondary accommodation that includes three flats and a number of outbuildings.

 

Rebuilt on the site of an earlier house in 1851 for Wilkinson Dent and his brother Lancelot, Grade II* listed Flass was designed by architects Grey and Mair and features interiors by the renowned cabinetmakers Gillows of Lancaster. No expense was spared on the construction and it is said that the Dents even decorated the ballroom with real pearls.

 

Flass might be isolated in terms of its location but it certainly features spectacular interiors
Flass might be isolated in terms of its location but it certainly boasts spectacular interiors
Many original features remain within the house
Many original features remain within the house

The Dent family retained ownership of Flass until 1973 and after being used as a residential school for the performing arts in the mid 2000s, the house was last sold for £490,000 in 2000 and again came to attention in 2012 when it was rented to what turned out to be a “major criminal gang” who had “hoodwinked the absentee landlord”.

 

Reports in The Guardian and The Telegraph detail how police raided the property after neighbours complained about a hum from a generator and instead of finding antiques, discovered “the largest ever secret cannabis farm discovered in the country”. Inside they found “an astonishing network of metal ducts, providing ventilation for the damp rooms, and a cannabis ‘mother plant’ the size of a Christmas tree which would have provided seeds for the crop”.

 

Offered for sale through PF&K, Flass is now described as “partially restored” but in need of “further works”. The orangery on the southern wing, for example, is termed “derelict” but the agents optimistically state the 17.31-acre estate “has the potential to create one of the finest country houses in the North of England”. It’s certainly a bargain at just £65 per square foot but drug dealers need not apply.

 

 

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