£1 auction bid for 16th century servant house known as ‘Mutton’s Castle’

'Mutton's Castle'
The house once known as 'Mutton's Castle' Credit: Bond Wolfe

A 16th century servant's cottage once known as 'Mutton's Castle' is going up for auction, with a starting price of just one pound.

The tall and narrow High Heath cottage on Withy Hill Road near Sutton Coldfield, is one of a few stone houses of a kind not found anywhere else in England.

The Grade II-listed building is located between Moor Hall Hotel and Bassetts Pole, and is around two miles from Sutton Coldfield town centre.

'Mutton's Castle' Credit: Bond Wolfe

The history of 'Mutton's Castle'

  • It was built by John Harman, who became Bishop Vesey, a keen local benefactor. He went on to build more than fifty similar stone houses in the 1530s, to house his servants

  • High Heath Cottage is the smallest of the surviving stone houses and is made of three storeys connected by a stone spiral staircase, with just one room on each floor, and a large chimney

  • There are two rooms on the first floor and one on each of the second and third floors, with a fireplace on each floor and garden areas to the front, side and back

A Sutton Coldfield Local History Research Group historian wrote about how the property got its name:

'There is a local tradition that a man who had stolen a sheep barricaded himself in the cottage – this at a time when sheep-stealing was a hanging offence.

'He is supposed to have held out for a considerable time, and so the cottage used to be known locally as ‘Mutton Castle’.

'Mutton's Castle' Credit: Bond Wolfe

Why is the auction bid starting at just £1 ?

Gurpreet Bassi, Chief Executive at Bond Wolfe, says the nominal price guide is so low because the detached building has fallen into disrepair and would require a lot of investment to renovate. It's also remote, standing alone in the middle of hedgeless farmland.

Mr Bassi said 'This property has a fascinating history and the appearance of a mini watchtower, looking out across the valley to a lonely stretch of the old coach road from Coleshill to Lichfield, now the A446, where highwaymen could lurk.

'By the 19th century, the cottage was part of the Moor Hall Estate, and there was once a row of three cottages adjoining it, occupied by farm labourers in 1851.

'But the adjoining cottages fell into disrepair, and the present-day High Heath Cottage stands alone in the landscape much as it did nearly 500 years ago'.

He added 'This three-storey property is suitable for development but requires refurbishment and modernisation within the Grade II* building and green belt regulations, as well as the usual planning permission'.

The cottage will go up for auction from 9am in Bond Wolfe’s next auction on Wednesday 14 December, which will be livestreamed.