Calling all you troglodytes: cave cottage up for auction

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The Independent Online

It has many of the quintessential features of a home that could grace the pages of Country Life, a listed stone dwelling overlooking acres of countryside. But it is a cave.

As house prices climb to new heights, buyers are expressing strong interest in acquiring a crumbling home for a troglodyte in Worcestershire. Estate agents selling the sandstone dwelling have had 50 requests for viewings despite the property having only "one bedroom" and no electricity or running water.

Hewn out of a cliff in the 1770s, Rock Cottage is being auctioned on Wednesday with a guide price of £25,000 but looks likely to sell for much more given the interest. The derelict cave, one of more than 50 in the area, was occupied for almost 200 years and fell vacant in 1948. But now the owner has died.

Like many more desired residences, Rock Cottage has a sitting room, a living room, a pantry and overlooks a neatly-trimmed lawn. Unlike many other des res', it has six adjoining cave rooms.

The estate agent Halls in Kidderminster is describing the cave - being sold with four acres of surrounding bracken and woodland - as a "most unique opportunity". "The property comprises genuine rock caves of former residential status together with garden area and adjoining woodland and amenity land area to approximately 4.91 acres," the sales particulars say.

But Halls is warning that home-buyers may find some conveniences taken for granted in the 21st century missing. Aside from no postal deliveries or a telephone landline, there is no mains electricity or water.

And, despite being Grade II-listed in 1958, the property is crumbling: jagged glass sits in the window frames, red dirt covers the floors and the rooms are divided by rickety stable doors on corroding hinges. Prospective purchasers are advised to make their own inquiries about connection to utilities. It may not be given planning approval as a residence.

The cave has a front door that leads into a 15ft by 12ft living room with a fireplace and window and door to an outside stable. The "bedroom" is a shade larger (11ft by 10ft) than the sitting room (9ft by 11ft). Despite the drawbacks of living in a cave that may not even be habitable, Halls is confident the property near the Georgian village of Wolverley will sell. "We don't know what the place used to look like, but it must have been quite cosy," said Daniel Lovatt, a director of Halls. "The fireplace kept it warm in winter and the rock walls kept it cool in summer."

The Nationwide building society says overall house prices are climbing twice as fast as last year, despite recent rises in interest rates, with the average house price now £184,070.

But further rate rises may dampen demand and the Bank of England may raise them on Thursday, hours after a new owner takes charge of Rock Cottage.

* The freehold of Rock Cottage will be auctioned at the Gainsborough House Hotel, Bewdley Hill, Kidderminster, at 6pm on Wednesday.

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