A fairytale castle pulls story-tellers

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The Independent Online

It was billed as a dream opportunity. The chance to buy one of Scotland's most impressive and historically important castles, with a baronial title and 261 acres of beautiful countryside. But the problem with selling a fairy-tale fortress, as the agents for Castle Lee in South Lanarkshire discovered, is that it tends to attract story-tellers.

It was billed as a dream opportunity. The chance to buy one of Scotland's most impressive and historically important castles, with a baronial title and 261 acres of beautiful countryside. But the problem with selling a fairy-tale fortress, as the agents for Castle Lee in South Lanarkshire discovered, is that it tends to attract story-tellers.

In a move intended to avoid the prying eyes of penniless voyeurs, the sellers of the castle launched the sale through secret mailshots to super-rich Americans and via a password-protected website. But even these security measures have failed to put off the timewasters.

The 700-year-old castle, built by Sir Symon Locard, who was reputedly honoured for returning Robert the Bruce's heart to Scotland, was put on the market for offers over £5m after the death last year of its owner, the Canadian electronics and nursing homes tycoon Leslie Peters.

Within weeks, the website advertising the two-storey building, with 14 bedrooms, a ballroom, a Gothic great hall and a swimming pool with Jacuzzi along with a barony title, three lodge houses and 261 acres, took more than 20,000 hits.

The 26,000 sq ft lavishly decorated castle, filled with countless antiques, pieces of furniture and works of art, is understood to have attracted interest from America, Argentina, Britain, Canada, Chile, Spain and Venezuela.

Despite rumours that celebrities such as John Travolta, Madonna and Britney Spears were interested no formal offers were received. But at least two parties appeared to fit the bill.

One offer was from Roger Shears, a self-proclaimed American website entrepreneur, who boasted of links to Bill Clinton, a fortune of £80m and of an impending marriage into a European royal family. Investigators found that he lived in a modest house in California worth £90,000. A supposedly wealthy French duchess who offered £8m was actually the owner of a two-bedroomed flat in Ohio.

Yesterday Lord Kinross, the Edinburgh-based solicitor handling the sale, said there was nothing to stop people dreaming and putting in offers they could not afford. Lindsay Duncan, of Remax estate agents, in Glasgow said: "We have got interest at present and we're hoping it is going to go through within 10 days."

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