Iraq Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

15th-Century Medieval Home Comes Flat-Packed!

15th-Century Medieval Home Comes Flat-Packed!

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A magnificent, authentic 15th century home could be yours for as little as £100,000. So, what’s the catch? Think IKEA assembling on a much bigger scale!

This rare home today belongs to Colin Mantripp, a master woodcarver, who dismantled and stored the 15 th-century home in his Buckinghamshire barn. He considers himself not the owner but the “custodian” of this medieval flat-packed home having looked after it since the eighties.

The house was originally built in the late 1400s on Edward Street in Westbury, Wiltshire, and its quality and complexity informs archaeologists that it must have been built for a wealthy individual who was probably a merchant.

The Duke of Sutherland bought the estate in 1919, selling it to J Paul Getty, the oil magnate, in 1959. In 1980 Stanley J Seeger bought the estate and commissioned Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe to produce designs which were implemented in several areas of the garden and the park. The old timber-framed building spanned around 4,500 square feet over two levels and it was uncovered during demolition works in 1982.

Saved by the Oil Giant

Mantripp said that he played with the idea of reassembling it himself, but running his studio, Lillyfee consumes all his time and he feels it’s time for someone else to take on what will be a unique restoration and building project.

English Heritage said that if the original structure had been discovered sooner it might have been erected “for retention in situ” and would maybe have been a Grade II* listing because so few of these timber-framed buildings have survived. After 400 years of visits by the kings and queens of Britain, the Duke of Sutherland bought Tudor manor house Sutton Place in Surrey in 1919, and then sold it to  the oil magnate J Paul Getty in 1959.

Then, in 1980, the American art collector, Stanley Seeger bought the estate and planned to resurrect the medieval timber-framed building in the grounds of Sutton Place in which he would display his art collection, but he ended up selling it. Mantripp, who had been commissioned to create picture frames and furniture for Seegers collection was re-tasked with dismantling and flat packing the medieval home.

Only for The Intrepid

The five bedroomed, five bathroom home consists of wooden frames and roof timbers but it includes the original stone fireplaces and doors, a large Venetian window and various architectural adornments. Such timber-framed buildings were designed to be moved by simply removing the roof tiles and the lath and plaster walls, then lifting the floorboards and removing the oak pegs. Mantripp said: “It's the ultimate Lego kit for someone with means and vision.”

According to Mantripp, if the home was rebuilt it might be used to house a collection of books and it could even fit “classic cars in the great hall.” And if the building was enhanced with modern materials it could make a unique and comfortable modern home, for what he calls “the intrepid buyer” who is prepared to tackle the planning and building rules.

Plans for the flat-pack merchant’s house

The Old Vs the New

It would appear Mantripp wants to find that “intrepid” buyer quickly, for he is asking what seems to be the incredibly low price of £100,000. But in context, as an investment, which all homes are, a few months after building it you will be sitting looking at your wonderful Venetian window and you will inevitably start thinking “how much do other flatpack homes cost?”

You will not resist Googling this gnawing question and might find this 2019 article in The Sun featuring Italian company Renato Vidal who offer a stylish, and affordable, eco-friendly flatpack folding home costing only €34,900 (£29,998). Furthermore, the finished house complete with windows and doors is ready to live in just six or seven hours after the builders finish their morning cup of tea.

However, for your £29,998 you get a tiny 290-square-feet one-bedroom home, which makes the £100,000K investment in a 4,500 sq ft five bedroomed 15th century home, over two levels, appear like a steal.

But what might the “intrepid” builder expect to pop up after they buy the 15th century flatpack? A comparative project is discussed in a Real Homes article which describes a mountain road on the edge of the Brecon Beacons leading to a six-bedroom, detached Herefordshire farm cottage, barn and outbuildings which also dates back to the 15th century.

Owner Henry John, an artist, says his father bought the cottage for “£1,000 back in 1967” and Henry set about restoring it. Five years later, having worked “12-hour days”, sleeping in the old larder surrounded by rubble, he reflected on the work as “exhausting, dusty and relentless” and that a “great deal of money” went into hidden but essential tasks. This is why the £29,998 option will appeal to most modern flat-packers, for even the most “intrepid” home buyers, few will have the heart to take on a 15th century home, a project that will most certainly bring with it “hidden but essential tasks”.

By Ashley Cowie

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

Next article