Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

A slice of English life - yours for £25m

By Kieran Fox
BBC News

Linkenholt
Linkenholt sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty

For Sale: One manor house, 22 neighbouring houses, the local shop, a blacksmiths and your very own cricket club.

The tiny village of Linkenholt in Hampshire - population 40 - has gone on the market and this slice of quintessential English life could be yours, if you have a spare £25m.

Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Linkenholt offers a much slower pace of life.

"There couldn't be a better place," said Alan Smith who has lived in the village for 58 years.

"Everyone is happy and there has never been no trouble."

But in a village where you have to phone for the local bus service to stop, the natural rhythm has been disturbed.

Ray Smith
Resident Ray Smith said the village has never seen an upheaval like this
The Herbert and Peter Blagrave Charitable Trust, which owns this corner of Hampshire, wants to realise some of the capital tied up in it.

As a result the unusual sale has not only got the residents talking, it has attracted media interest from Germany and France.

"The people I've spoken to are concerned," said Paul Raynsford, the village thatcher.

"They wonder whether the person who will buy it will asset strip it or keep it together?

"It's been the way it is for years."

Lord of the manor

The trust has held a meeting with the community to outline its plans.

Tenants have been told they would be able to remain in their homes after the sale. But concerns remain.

Ray Smith, 78, is the former village game keeper and resident of 46 years. He said for a village where the local bus getting trapped in the snow was a highlight of the last 40 years, he has not seen anything like it.

"We would like to see a new lord of the manor," he said in a thick Hampshire drawl.

"The manor house is up for rent and it's a nice building. I've been in there a few times, that's where the boss used to live there and we used to have a harvest party every year.

"As long as that house is lived in that's important."

'Unusual sale'

The sale includes 1,500 acres of farmland and 450 acres of woodland.

The peace is only ever broken by the postman delivering mail or a stray pheasant.

So recent interest is regarded unusual, if not unwelcome.

Tim Sherston, the estate agent overseeing the sale, said the village's commercial shoot has already attracted some potential buyers.

So who would want to buy a village like this?

Manor house
Linkenholt manor house used to host harvest festivals
"Essentially someone who wants to grasp the countryside," said Mr Sherston, from agents Jackson-Stops.

"It is an unusual sale I admit, I've not been involved in the sale of a whole village before - they don't come up very often.

"I think the buyer will be someone who, in these uncertain economic times, is looking for a safe and sound investment.

But there is a word of warning - the sale does not include the village's 16th Century St Peter's Church.

That will remain in the hands of the Diocese of Winchester.

Blacksmith Colin Boast summed up the over-riding feeling in the village.

"We know nothing stays the same forever," he said. "We just hope that it does."

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SEE ALSO
Village to be sold for up to £25m
09 Mar 09 |  Hampshire

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