Thursday, July 25, 2024

Punchy & Paltry Priced Properties – From Balmy To Bonkers; £1 For A Cottage, £3 Million For A Room

Which would you prefer? One room in Knightsbridge for a punchy payment of £3 million or a detached 16th century cottage for the paltry price of £1 in the West Midlands?

In April 2017, an apartment at 199 Knightsbridge – a ritzy residence formed of 205 flats, penthouses and mews house opposite the Hyde Park Barracks that houses the Household Cavalry – sold for an astonishing sum of £90 million ($109 million, €104 million or درهم400 million).


Now, whilst Harrods Estates currently offer a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom lateral unit that extends to 3,145 square foot in the building for £13.95 million ($16.9 million, €16.2 million or درهم61.9 million), someone on a lower budget could get just one room there for £3 million ($3.6 million, €3.5 million or درهم13.3 million). A veritable bargain or yet another indication of ‘Bonkers Britain’?


Marketed for a somewhat punchy £4,769 per square foot ($5,766, €5,537 or درهم21,177 per square foot) at asking price, a first-floor space offered by agents The Cloister is formed of a 25-foot by 22-foot living room that forms the only bedroom also. There is also a kitchen and bathroom – the former being just 5-foot wide and just 10-foot long – and frankly one is left realising this is actually a ‘home’ where only the multi-millionaire capable of buying it will clearly have “barely enough room to swing a cat.”


Studio flat at 199 Knightsbridge single room
Situated opposite Hyde Park Barracks – more commonly known as Knightsbridge Barracks – this 629 square foot space has just two small windows and is rather awkwardly shaped. In its current configuration there’s a slimline double bed crammed into a nook with just one beside table but there’s not even a dining table. In spite of its £3 million price tag, this is a pad for those who simply want sofa suppers rather than to entertain on a grand scale.
Studio flat at 199 Knightsbridge floor plan
The floor plan of the space on offer illustrates just how little a multi-millionaire can actually get for their money in this neck of SW7. This is a property that is smaller than most hotel rooms and agents The Cloister make no mention of the no doubt very hefty accompanying service charges.
Mutton's Castle - High Heath Cottage, Withy Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield, B75 6JR exterior
Paltry priced High Heath Cottage – also known as ‘Mutton Castle’ due to a local tradition that a man who had stolen a sheep barricaded himself in the structure to avoid the hanging offence of being caught stealing sheep – is situated on Withy Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield, B75 6JR. It was constructed as one of around fifty servant’s cottages by The Right Reverend John Vessey (born John Harman, 1519 – 1551), who became Bishop of Exeter, and of it auctioneer Gupreet Bassi of Bond Wolfe told ITV: “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 from Coleshill to Lichfield, now the A446, where highwaymen could lurk. By the 19th century, the cottage was part of the Moor Hall Estate, and there was once a row of three cottages adjoining it, occupied by farm labourers in 1851. But the adjoining cottages fell into disrepair, and the present-day High Heath Cottage stands alone in the landscape much as it did nearly 500 years ago. This three-storey property is suitable for development but requires refurbishment and modernisation within the Grade II* building and green belt regulations, as well as the usual planning permission.”
Mutton's Castle - High Heath Cottage, Withy Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield, B75 6JR site plan
The cottage has two rooms on the ground floor, one room on the first floor and one room on the second floor. It has gardens to all sides and the agents add: “We understand the cottage incorporates a fireplace in each floor and is connected via a stone spiral staircase.” Sutton Coldfield town centre is approximately two miles distant.

Providing a stark contrast at the opposite end of the market, yet apparently something far more idyllic in its setting, Birmingham based auctioneers Bond Wolfe will be hoping to hammer down what they describe as “a vacant freehold Grade II* listed cottage in disrepair constructed in the 1530s by Bishop Vesey” in the “rural part of Sutton Coldfield” in the West Midlands next month.


They offer the three-storey stone-built structure with a paltry guide price of just £1 ($1.21, €1.16 or درهم4.44) and will sell the detached building on 14th December by public auction.


Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party.


‘The Punchy’ and ‘The Paltry’ – Five properties at both ends of the price spectrum…

This detached, 2,061 square foot Edwardian house featured in Syracuse, New York featured in ‘The Steeple Times’ in September 2020 when it was offered for just £827 ($1,000, €960 or درهم3,673). It eventually sold in March 2021 for that sum though the buyer would have had to have shown proof of funds available to guarantee the £63,200 ($76,416, €73,375 or درهم280,639) costs of renovation required. The property’s most famous resident prior had been a German police dog named Jack that latched onto the building’s owner, Dr. Scott R. Fisher, on the Hindenburg line in France in October 1918. Supposedly, “when Jack spotted Dr. Fisher, he stuck to him and refused to leave his side – ensuring he found a way to be with Fisher his entire way back to base. Dr. Fisher told the paper that, ‘such devotion deserves reward,’ and decided to take Jack back home with him… Jack was stowed away in an overcrowded ship which was bringing American soldiers home and where each man was allowed only a certain poundage of baggage. Dr. Fisher shared his own rations with Jack because dog food was not available in the ship’s stores. When they arrived back in America, the pair settled here on Syracuse’s Southside.”
Knockhall Castle
In August 2017, ‘The Steeple Times’ shared news of a castle in Aberdeenshire for sale for just £130,000 ($157,000, €151,000 or درهم577,000). In “stablised” condition, but roofless the structure was lauded by Savills as “a blank canvas for someone to develop the building’s full potential as a spectacular family home or business.” Knockhall Castle had still not sold by January 2020 and was described in April this year as still being a “tumbled down romantic ruin.”
Barlaston Hall
In a state of collapse when sold to former ‘Country Life’ editor Marcus Binney for £1 ($1.21, €1.16 or درهم4.44) in 1981, 16,409 square foot, Grade I listed Barlaston Hall in Staffordshire – complete with a Chinese Chippendale staircase – was made safe and sold on for £300,000 ($363,000, €348,000 or درهم1.2 million) in 1992 and then offered for sale again in June 2014 for £2.3 million ($2.8 million, €2.7 million or درهم10.2 million). It was purchased for £2 million ($2.4 million, €2.3 million or درهم8.9 million) by Cameron and Claire Gilchrist-Dick since November 2020 and in a “separate sale,” the pair also snapped up the neighbouring 12th century church to use as a wedding venue.
In July this year, a derelict Second World War fort in the Humber Estuary, once planned to be an ‘Island of Hope’ for detoxing drug addicts was offered for sale for £50,000 ($60,100, €58,700 or درهم220,600) at auction by Savills. Bull Sand Fort, near Hull hammered down for a punchy sum 880% higher at £490,000 ($588,500, €575,000 or درهم2.2 million) to a mystery bidder.
At the top end of the market, in May 2019, we featured the possible sale of The Old Rectory in Old Church Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 for at least £200 million ($242 million, €232 million or درهم888 million). Its current owner, shipping magnate John Fredriksen, merging two adjoining properties paid a combined £70 million ($85 million, €81 million or درهم311 million) to create a two-acre compound between 2001 and 2006. It is believed that the house remains in the ownership of the Fredriksen family currently.

The Punchy – More images of the first-floor studio apartment in The Knightsbridge, 199 Knightsbridge, London, SW7 1RH offered for the outrageous sum of £3 million…

Described on the official website of what they somewhat lavishly laud as ‘The Residence,’ one room boxes in this building are somewhat laughably shouted instead as “executive studios” that are “perfect pied-à-terres.”


199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 1
The exterior of ‘The Knightsbridge’ was never going to go down in history as an example of fantastic architectural design. It has a closer resemblance to a budget hotel or an office block that might appeal to David Brent.
199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 2
Facilities for residents number a 24-hour concierge, security, valet parking and use of ‘leisure facilities’ such as a swimming pool and business facilities including a 12-seat boardroom (which has “complimentary refreshments available”). The annual charges for such are not listed for the £3 million studio offered, but for the £13.95 million apartment also on sale currently the charges are £78,900 per annum plus £5,700 per annum per car parking space included.
199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 3
There’s so little space in the “executive studio” that the current resident has put a wardrobe in the hall and keeps their suitcases there also.
199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 4
The minute, windowless kitchen is most definitely not a space for an aspiring Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith.
199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 5
The current decoration scheme wouldn’t look out of place in student digs. It’s hardly what anyone would expect in a £3 million pad.
199 Knightsbridge 3million studio flat 6
The bathroom, equally, is hardly opulent.

The Paltry – More images of the £1 cottage, High Heath Cottage (AKA ‘Mutton’s Castle’), Withy Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B75 6JR…

Whilst this stone-built cottage might be cheap and off-the-beaten-track, it certainly will require a lot of work. Undoubtedly, however, the £1 price tag will encourage many to dig deeper – so do anticipate a bidding war on 14th December that will actually take the ultimate sale price of this property far, far higher.


High Heath Cottage Sutton Coldfield Mutton's Castle 1
An image of High Heath Cottage from the Sutton Reference Library taken circa 1908. Of it, in 2008 the Sutton Coldfield Local History Research Group observed: “Sutton Coldfield has a number of stone houses dating from the sixteenth century of a kind not found anywhere else in England. According to the great historian Sir William Dugdale, Bishop Vesey built fifty-one of these stone houses here, where previously almost all the houses had been timber-framed. High Heath Cottage is the smallest of the surviving stone houses, built in an isolated spot. In the 1530s it was surrounded by the open commons of High Heath, and today it stands alone in the middle of bleak hedgeless farmland. It is a tall house, with three storeys connected by a stone spiral staircase, but narrow, with only one room on each floor, and a massive chimney. Writing in 1544, John Leland said that Vesey built the houses for his poor kinsmen, but other sources suggest that they were built to house servants of the Bishop who would keep order in outlying parts of Sutton. The house at High Heath has the appearance of a watchtower, and it looks across the valley to a lonely stretch of the old coach road from Coleshill to Lichfield (now the A446) where highwaymen could lurk. The cottage was easy to defend from attack, having, originally, only one ground-floor window. There is a local tradition that a man who had stolen a sheep barricaded himself in the cottage – this at a time when sheep-stealing was a hanging offence. He is supposed to have held out for a considerable time, and so the cottage used to be known locally as ‘Mutton Castle.’ In the nineteenth century the cottage was part of the Moor Hall Estate belonging to the Hacketts of Moxhull, and by 1824 a row of three cottages had been built adjoining it. All four of the cottages were occupied by farm labourers in 1851; one of them, William Lunt, had seven children. The adjoining cottages fell into disrepair, and eventually the end one was converted to form an extension to the stone house to make a single dwelling – the present-day High Heath Cottage stands alone in the landscape much as it did 460 years ago.”
High Heath Cottage Sutton Coldfield Mutton's Castle 2
The building is clearly in a perilous state, but any of those who enthuse about Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’ could find far worse projects than this.
High Heath Cottage Sutton Coldfield Mutton's Castle 3
If wandering like Heathcliff is your desire, ‘Mutton Castle’ could be the perfect spot for someone with £1 going spare.
Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


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