Daily Mail Article
Sir Benjamin Slade sells England’s largest nature reserve Maunsel House for £2.2million
Millionaire aristocrat, 72, is selling off England’s largest private nature reserve for £2.2m – but the new owner must escort the Queen should war ever break out
- Sir Benjamin Slade is the current owner of 398-acre reserve on Somerset levels
- New owner will get title of ‘Wardwick of the North Moor’ created in year 878
- Ownership rules introduced by Alfred the Great say they have to escort Queen
The millionaire aristocrat that owns England’s largest private nature reserve is putting it on the market for £2.2million.
Sir Benjamin Slade, 72, is the current owner of the 398-acre plot on the Somerset Levels, giving him the ancient title of ‘Wardwick of the North Moor’.
The prestigious position was created by Alfred the Great in 878 while he stayed in the area.
It comes with a set of archaic ownership rules, including one that requires the owner to escort the monarch across the land if she needs to escape during a war.
Sir Benjamin Slade, 72 (pictured with his pet dog) is the current owner of the 398-acre plot on the Somerset Levels, giving him the ancient title of ‘Wardwick of the North Moor’
There are only six Wardwick of the Moor titles still in existence.
After forking out for the £2.2million asking price, the new owner will receive a £90,000-a-year grant from Natural England.
Eccentric Sir Benjamin made headlines last year after publicising his search for a wife who can provide him with two sons.
His eyebrow-raising list of requirements for the perfect ‘breeder’ stated she should be no taller than 5ft6in, aged between 30 and 40, possess a gun licence and be ‘castle trained’.
The land on sale makes up part of his wider 2,000-acre Maunsel House estate.
Sir Benjamin, who made his fortune as a shipping magnate, was also in the public eye in 2012 after police staged a dramatic raid on his home, which saw him charged with possessing a firearm without a certificate and breaching a shotgun certificate by leaving a weapon unsecured.
He said he used the shotgun to shoot at foxes from his bedroom window.
The descendant of King George IV said he wants a ‘lady of the house’ who is happy with £50,000 a month ‘pocket money’.
The grant income from Natural England could increase if the new owner introduces more rare bird species to the plot, a brochure advertising its sale states.
Sir Benjamin is reluctantly selling the land along with smaller plots to finance a major new house building project in another area of the Maunsel Estate.
He said: ‘I really don’t want to let it go but new houses are a social priority and needs must.
An aerial map shows the bits of land being put on the market by Sir Benjamin
‘However, I would be willing to buy the nature reserve back at a profit in four years if the new owner chose to take up the guaranteed buy-back option I am offering, as I will need it to set off capital gains tax.
‘It is a very safe investment with an excellent income.’
The ‘for sale’ brochure states: ‘For the sporting rifle enthusiast there is deer shooting on the land, this mainly consists of Roe Deer but the occasional Red does come down from the moors.
‘Natural England encourages the control of foxes, magpies and other pests, which are a threat to the wading birds and rare species on the site as long as this is done with sensitivity and consideration for the rare bird species on the land.
‘For example, rifles of all calibres should be fitted with effective sound moderators and shooting should be avoided during the breeding season in the actual breeding areas of the site.
The land on sale makes up part of his 2,000-acre Maunsel House estate
‘Wildfowl shooting also available by special agreement with Natural England but due to the SSSI status of the land it is subject to certain restrictions including the frequency of wildfowl shooting, and obviously the use of lead shot is not allowed.
‘The site will only be sold as a whole but it could be syndicated between a club, organisation or group of friends.’
The Somerset Levels were flooded in 2012 and 2014. Since then, the Environment Agency has invested heavily in the infrastructure and dredging.
This includes the installation of massive pumps to control water levels.
Part of the land includes a raised water level area – a habitat for breeding and wintering wading birds including Lapwings.