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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Cat Olley

A historic house set in Dartmoor National Park is on sale for first time due to Royal Family 'change of guard'

The Duchy of Cornwall is selling off a historic farmhouse in the heart of Dartmoor which has never been seen on the open market.

Five-bedroom Torgate House, which comes with a separate coach house, has been listed with Mansbridge Balment for £850,000.

Tucked away at the end of a long gravel track, the 19th century home had previously been leased to the Duchy’s local Land Steward and to moorland farmer Neil Cole.

A long private driveway separates the house from the road (Mansbridge Balment)

Mansbridge Balment director Dan Bryant attributes the surprise sale of the house to “the change of guard” within the Royal Family.

“From talking to a few people with links to the Duchy, it seems they’re looking at things differently. It does need a refurb, so perhaps they thought they could do with the money.

“It’s always been a part of the Duchy portfolio, so it’s a real rarity. I’ve been in the local market for fifteen years now and I’ve never seen one come to market.”

Sited on the outskirts of Princetown in the west of the National Park, the house is in an enviable position with uninterrupted countryside views from every window but two pubs and other village amenities still within walking distance.

“You can just about see Tor Royal Farm, clipping a rooftop, but other than that all you can see is the moors – and yet it’s just down the lane for a drink at the Plume of Feathers in Princetown,” says Bryant.

The house is due a refresh – after £350,000 was spent in 2009 (Mansbridge Balment)

The property, which tops 4,000 square feet across the main house, a self-contained annexe and the two-storey coach house, is an unusual prospect on the moors where historic homes for sale “are typically 16th century stone farmhouses that are falling apart,” he adds.

But any would-be buyer should have the requisite cash for a renovation, as it has sat empty since last year and is in need of an lift.

Bryant says the estate spent £350,000 renovating the house fifteen years ago – including the installation of a £35,000 biomass boiler which no longer works.

The listing nods to the works needed, suggesting a project “ideal for those who enjoy refurbishing period houses to their former glory” and noting single glazed sash windows alongside the misbehaving boiler.

The old detached coach house has mains water and power (Mansbridge Balment)

A guide price of around £50,000 has been set on 12 acres of adjoining moorland, which would be available to any buyer by separate negotiation.

The land is peppered with old mine workings, now fenced off, but it would provide a boost to the 2.4 acres surrounding the house and an extra buffer for those keen for total tranquility on the moors.

“We’ve already had multiple offers on the house, and so far everyone wants the land – which is what we expected,” says Bryant.

“There’s been ponies here for many years, so there’s a paddock and the coach house could be used as stables. It could be a lovely setup if it was all brought back up to speed again.

“The annexe would work well as a bed and breakfast, or there’s the multi-generational option as well.”

Most buyers will also choose to purchase the 12 acres of adjacent moorland (Mansbridge Balment)

The Duchy of Cornwall is one of two royal duchies – archaic bodies that manage a portfolio of land, property and other assets – which together own more than 175,000 acres of land across Britain.

Its Dartmoor territory, which includes around a third of Dartmoor National Park, is the country’s largest landholding.

Here there are 21 farms, all let to tenants who graze cattle, sheep and ponies due to its harsh climate and poor soil, as well as fifty houses, five pubs and four hotels.

The role was namechecked in King Charles’ first televised address to the nation in September 2022, when he acknowledged that William, as the new Duke of Cornwall, would “take on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall which I have undertaken for more than five decades.”

Today the Duchy of Cornwall portfolio is worth more than £1 billion.

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