British couple buy entire village in France for £22,000

Hamlet once home to agricultural workers is being saved after falling into disrepair

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 27 July 2022 11:20 BST
Related: French village inherits 2 million euros from Austrian Jew it housed during WWII
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A British couple has bought an entire small village in France for less than they would spend on a deposit for a property in the UK.

Paul Mappley and Yip Ward – both 48-year-old landscape gardeners – purchased the hamlet of La Busliere in Normandy for just £22,000 after having struggled to get on the property ladder back in Kent.

The hamlet has a row of cottages, two barns, a stable, a two-storey workshop, a well, a cider press, and a communal bread oven – all surrounded by two acres of land.

Yip Ward and Paul Mappley (Channel 4)

The pair, who were featured on Channel 4’s show Help, We Bought a Village!, aired on Monday, wish to transform it into a luxury holiday destination with glamping facilities.

In Kent, they were living in a static caravan in Tunbridge Wells owned by their friend. Mr Ward said that the prospect to buy somewhere “tiny” for more than £250,000 in the UK was “never on the table”.

But, after their friend announced they would be selling the caravan that they were living in, the couple needed a plan of action.

In 2019, another friend offered them the chance to buy an end-of-terrace cottage in La Busliere for just €12,000 (£10,000).

The hamlet of La Busliere, with the end-of-terrace cottage on the right (Channel 4)

They said that the decision was a “no brainer” as the cottage was “in a habitable state”, even though it had just basic amenities.

The couple then wished to renovate the other derelict cottages as the state of disrepair gave them a feeling of “sadness”.

In 2021, after contacting the owners of the other properties, they received the news that the whole hamlet – which used to be home to agricultural workers – was up for sale for €14,000 (about £12,000).

Although the renovation project is costly and time-consuming, the couple said they were happy to take on the challenge.

In the show, Mr Mappley says: “There’s not pots of money for us to do this but we would like to be able to try to get it to a point where it’s not falling to bits.”

He adds: “To own any building is a huge dream, but something like this with so much history is an amazing feeling, we’re very lucky to be able to do this. This wasn’t ever on the cards for us.”

Simon Oliver, the estate agent on the Channel 4 programme, said similar hamlets were “two a penny in France” and that they were “waiting to be done up”.

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