A FIFTY TWO room Highland mansion that was once the playground of Charles and Diana, Coco Chanel and Winston Churchill is facing demolition – after failing to sell at a bargain knock-off price.
Lochmore Lodge, in Sutherland, is currently owned by Gerald Grosvenor – the 6th Duke of Westminster, Britain’s richest landowner and godfather to Prince William.
The sprawling lodge – with stunning views across Loch More – was built in 1850, since acting as a holiday home for a host of impressive royal, historical and celebrity names.
The mansion was slated for demotion in 2012 after sitting empty for 12 years, costing £30,000 per year to maintain – but the move was dramatically blocked by Historic Scotland after a public outcry.
But now – after nearly two years on the market for the bargain knock-off price of £450,000 – the mansion is once again facing demolition.
The 15 bedroom, six bathroom home also boasts a library, television room, dressing room and pantry, all seated in a leafy Scottish estate.
In the 1960s it hosted a young Prince Charles, who stayed there at the age of 13 when he visited with the Queen and Princess Diana.
Prince Philip and Princess Anne also visited the estate as guests of the Duchess of Westminster in 1961.
It is also said that Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain visited the mansion, and it is believed that Coco Chanel also visited for a party in the heydays of the lodge.
But the glittering past of the mansion has not been enough to secure it a buyer – even at such a modest price – and now the threat of demolition is back on the table.
Estate owners say they have yet to receive any offer on the property – and Douglas Lindsay, the factor, has said that full or partial demolition could be the only solution.
He said: “We are considering our options and we need to talk to Historic Scotland, possibly before the end of the year.
“Until we have a decision it is difficult to predict what the outcome will do.
“But we have had the property on the market since January 2014 and had one expression of strong interest, which was not converted into a formal offer once they worked through the detail.”
“In fact, we have had very little interest. It is costing something like £20,00 to £30,000 to maintain – we have had the heating on constantly to maintain it.
“It will remain on the market while we reassess our options.”
The terms of the sale dictate that the lodge must be occupied by only one family, and cannot be subdivided into smaller flats.
And it is estimated that it could cost up to £1m to restore the mansion to its former glory.
But Rob Gibson, the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP, is hoping that the strict terms of the sale will be relaxed to keep to mansion standing.
He said: “It is not the best use of a building to knock it down – it could be an outdoor centre or have another meaningful purpose.
“They have made the condition of sale so tight that it is difficult to find a buyer. Some people may say it suggests they don’t want to find a purchaser.
“But a multi-occupancy building is better than no building.”