Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Friday, 24 September 2010 11:11 UK
The man who bought Stonehenge
Stonehenge
In 1915 Stonehenge was bought for just 6,600, its current valuation is estimated at 51m

It was 95 years ago, this week, that a man walked into a property auction in Salisbury and came out £6,600 poorer and the owner of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge had never been put up for auction before and never would again.

Sir Cecil Chubb, a wealthy Shrewton resident, was the new owner of Stonehenge.

He was also the last man to own it.

Bought 'on a whim'

Stonehenge had been in private hands since the middle ages and been in the Antrobus family since the early 1800s.

But when the heir to the Antrobus baronetcy was killed in the Great War the estate was put up for sale.

Restoration of Stonehenge in 1950
Stonehenge undergoes restoration work in 1950

In the hands of Messrs Knight, Franck and Rutley, on the 21st September 1915, the historic site went under the hammer.

And Lot 15: Stonehenge with 30 acres of adjoining down land was sold at the Palace Theatre in Salisbury to the highest bidder.

Sir Cecil Chubb, who'd had no intention of bidding at the sale, bought it 'on a whim' as a gift for his wife who, it's claimed, was none too pleased.

For the price of £6,600, the equivalent of £392,00 in today's money, Sir Cecil Chubb's intention that a "Salisbury man ought to buy it" was realised.

Stonehenge worth £51m

Just 95 years on and, according to a survey of 500 estate agents invited to put a price on national monuments across the UK, Stonehenge is now worth a monumental £51m.

Whilst the recommended estate agent's blurb, suggested in the same survey carried out by findaproperty.com, could read:

Stonehenge "Airy property with bags of potential. Comes with land but needs serious renovation, including new roof and double-glazing."

We would still advise our client to sell it at auction
Andrew Rome, Knight and Franck

But how would Messrs Knight, Franck and Rutley, the estate agents who originally handled the sale, sell Stonehenge today?

"We would still advise our client to sell it at auction," says Andrew Rome from Knight and Franck.

"And to sell it as a going concern as a business based on the income it generates."

With Stonehenge attracting around 900,000 visitors a year, paying an average of £5 per head, a £51m valuation starts to sound like a good investment.

Free admission

For Sir Cecil, however, Stonehenge belonged to the nation, and in 1918 after owning it for just three years he formerly handed it over to the country with a number of conditions.

His conditions were that the entrance fee should never be more then a shilling (5p) and that local residents should have free access.

"The 1918 deed of gift didn't actually specify free access for local residents," says Joy Kaarnijoki at English Heritage, "it was an agreement with the Parish Council.

"The road passed very close to the stones. The Council agreed that the rights of way could be diverted further from the stone circle on condition that local residents would be granted free access."

Whether it was stipulated by Sir Cecil Chubb himself, or not, it's an agreement that has continued to the present day.

According to English Heritage, the 30,000 local residents living in and around Stonehenge can still take up the offer of free access to one of England's most famous monuments.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Stonehenge discovery
22 Jul 10 |  People & Places
A new 'henge' at Stonehenge?
22 Jul 10 |  Today
Google Street View of Stonehenge
07 Dec 09 |  People & Places
A tour of Stonehenge
31 Mar 08 |  Science & Environment
Chisels once given at Stonehenge
22 May 08 |  Wiltshire

OTHER RELATED BBC LINKS


BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific