Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Man's House is His Castle. Until It's Not.

 Over the years, I’ve seen any number of hideous houses mimicking Tudor-Revival styles; Tudor “ranches”… Tudor “split-levels” … butt-ugly homes where the proportions were all wrong, or where the builder tacked on an inappropriate element where it did not belong…the list is long.

I particularly remember a large home in Bath, Ohio, where the builder accented the formal entry with a poorly-imagined front inspired by Hampton Court; the rest of the house being rather stodgy and barn-like. Like a lot of McMansions, big -- but ill-conceived and ugly.

So it wasn’t surprising that the case of Surrey farmer Robert Fidler sparked some interest.  Apparently Fildler secretly built a mock Tudor castle, hidden behind a cover of tall hay bales for several years in an effort to bypass local restrictions. The 63-year-old thought he would be immune from planning rules as his family had been living there for more than four years and nobody had objected to it. Until he revealed his “creation” and the objectors came forward, fast and furious.

After many court appearances, local officials have finally ruled the four-bedroom home on Green Belt land at Honeycrocks Farm in Salfords, Surrey – worth well in excess of £1million if sold on the open market - must be pulled down within 90 days.

It’s an interesting case – and honestly, I’ve seen far worse looking in terms of Tudor-revival houses. While the backside is a little crude and not-so-well proportioned (the towers were built around grain silos) I found the front of the house (second photo) to be quite charming and very well-handled. The interiors look rather nice, too.

It does seem rather funny that no one had any visual objections to the positively ugly pile of hay bales and tarpaulins for over four years, but can’t stand the sight of the revealed house. I know the point is that Fildler bypassed the planning restrictions which everyone else must follow, but visual blight is visual blight. Would it be okay if he just covered it back up?

Read more about it HERE.
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