The house that tells the history of Britain

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The Independent Online
It may look like a Georgian country residence, but Eastry Court is the oldest house in Britain. Dating from AD 603, it can claim to be the birthplace of English Christianity and is on sale for pounds 650,000.

Eastry Court, at Sandwich, Kent is an estate agent's dream, with period charm from the 14th, 16th and 18th centuries. Few houses can boast an "Inner Hall" with flagstone floors and exposed timbers. The Georgian facade conceals an interior which has been adapted nearly every century. Its biggest selling point is its site, where some of the most dramatic events of the Dark Ages took place. Though only a few bits of the stonework remain, Eastry Court was an Anglo-Saxon palace belonging to the High King Ethelbert of Kent. He married Bertha, the daughter of the King of Paris, who converted him to Christianity. She brought early Christians to England, including Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the 9th century Ethelred the Unready gave the house to monks, seeking spiritual aid against the marauding Swain Forkbeard. It brought him no luck - Swain's son, Canute, became the next King.

The owner, Marion Gear, said she would miss it, but added: It's lovely when [the children] come back but it's just too big for me."