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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 10:17 GMT
1m stately mansion up for grabs
Sir Benjamin Slade
Sir Benjamin says he has always fancied a council house
An eccentric aristocrat plans to give away his 1m mansion complete with 1,300 acre estate to a stranger - and move into a council house.

Sir Benjamin Slade, 59, has no heir and is desperate to find a distant US relative - preferably wealthy - to take over his stately pile in Somerset

Sir Benjamin plans to give a DNA sample and hopes a close match can be found among 5,000 Slades living in the US.

The chosen person - it must be a man, he says - will inherit Maunsel House.

The 13th Century 16-bedroom home boasts a library, a dining room for 80 guests and a staff of five.

People living in council houses don't know what a hell it is living in a place like this
Sir Benjamin Slade

Sir Benjamin said: "I'm hoping it won't be some cowpoke or someone who lives on a trailer park surrounded by rattlesnakes.

"I would have a screaming fit if I found out it was some chap like that. I want someone with a bit of money and a couple of yachts."

Sir Benjamin - who has a multi-million pound business empire and a house in Chelsea - says he is ready to swap the home in North Newton for a local council house.

'Council houses'

He said: "I want to go to one of those rather large council houses, I've always fancied one. If anything goes wrong people just come around and fix it and the shops are nearby.

"People living in council houses don't know what a hell it is living in a place like this. It's bloody hard work keeping a house like this going. I've got mice under the floorboards, the roof is leaking, it's terrible.

"A lot of my friends who have these things can pass them on to their sons and then go off on holiday," he said.

However, the mansion comes with a heating bill of 1,000 a month and Sir Benjamin said the insurance was another 1,000 per month.

He took over the dilapidated house in the early 1980s and slowly restored it to its former glory.

He lives there with his partner, actress Kirsten Hughes and a labrador.


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