Farmer hides newly-built Tudor castle behind 40ft hay bales *pics*

  1. Ok, here's a funny one!

    From the UK Daily Mail: Article Link



    Hay presto! Farmer unveils the 'illegal' mock-Tudor castle he tried to hide behind 40ft hay bales

    Hiding a needle in a haystack is easy enough.

    But Robert Fidler kept something much bigger concealed among the piles of straw down on his farm... a castle.

    Over the course of two years, he managed to secretly – and unlawfully – build the imposing mock Tudor structure in one of his fields, shielded behind a 40ft stack of hay bales covered by a huge tarpaulins.

    Once it was finished, he and his family moved in and lived there for four years before finally revealing the development – complete with battlements and cannons – in August 2006.

    Mr Fidler claims that because the building has been there for four years with no objections, it is no longer illegal.

    But he is under siege from council planners, who say the castle at Honeycrock Farm, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey, will have to be knocked down.

    "I can't believe they want to demolish this beautiful house," said 59-year-old Mr Fidler. "To me they are no different than vandals who just want to smash it down."

    Mr Fidler, a farmer, erected the disguise in 2000 out of hundreds of 8ftx4ft bales of straw and covered the top with blue tarpaulin.

    After building the castle on the site of two grain silos at a cost of £50,000, he and his wife Linda went to extraordinary lengths to keep it secret. That included keeping their son Harry, now seven, away from playschool the day he was supposed to do a painting of his home in class.

    "We couldn't have him drawing a big blue haystack – people might asked questions," said 39-year-old Mrs Fidler.

    Mr Fidler, who has five children from a previous marriage, said: "We moved into the house on Harry's first birthday, so he grew up looking at straw out of the windows.

    "We thought it would be a boring view but birds nested there and feasted on the worms. We had several families of robins and even a duck made a nest and hatched 13 ducklings on top of the bales."

    But neighbours were unimpressed.

    One said: "Nobody thought anything of it when the hay went up. It was presumed he was building a barn or something similar.

    "It was a complete shock when the hay came down and this castle was in its place. Everyone else has to abide by planning laws, so why shouldn't they?"

    Problems began last April when Mr Fidler, thinking he had beaten the planning system, applied for a certificate of lawfulness which is given if a property is erected but nobody objects to it after four years.

    But Reigate and Banstead Council says the four-year period after which the building would be allowed to stay is void – because nobody had been given a chance to see it.

    The matter will now be decided in February by the council's planning inspector, who could give the Fidlers as little as six months to tear the castle down.

    The family are not alone in falling foul of planning laws.

    Last November pensioners Eileen and Eamonn Kelly were told they would face prison unless they demolished the one-bedroom extension on their semi-detached home in Swanley, Kent after planners said it was "out of keeping" with the area.

    More recently around a dozen Britons living in Spain have had their homes torn down after a clampdown on illegally built properties built on the coastline.

    A spokeswoman for the Reigate council said: "Mr Fidler has built the house without planning permission, not sought retrospective planning permission and now claims it is legal because it has been up for four years.

    "We don't think the four-year rule applies because it had been hidden behind bales of hay."
  2. I think it's beautiful, and yes they did build it without permission, but maybe they can work something out.

    It would be a shame if they were made to take it down.
  3. Lol, what a funny story!!!

    But on a more serious note.....some ppl are such party poopers. It would be such a shame to knock it down. I think it would actually put the town more on the map and have people think fondly of the area!
  4. Talk about stickin' it to the man!?! :roflmfao:
  5. This is close to where I was raised - lots of beautiful greenbelt land (protected so that people can enjoy the countryside). I guess if he's allowed to get away with it, it would give other people ideas, which could cause a lot of problems. What he did was wrong, he knew it and tried to hide the fact and dodge the rules. He could have found land where he could legally build, but he chose not to, so if the castle is demolished then it's his own fault for being dishonest (even though it's a nice looking castle).
  6. So glad you saw this. One of the reasons I posted this thread was to get the input from people who are familiar with this area. Thanks!
  7. It's beautiful.....but he really should have gone through proper channels. My parents tried to build a shed once without getting approvals....a neighbour ratted them out and they had to tear it down.
  8. It's not like it's an eyesore, it's beautiful!
  9. I think that's brilliant. Even though he didn't go through the proper channels, who is he hurting really?
  10. Love it!
  11. read about this and thought it was funny the legnths he went through to hide his property!
  12. I don't dispute the fact the castle is absolutely beautiful. The whole area is gorgeous. I was raised nearby and went to school just a couple of miles away from this castle. The UK is extremely built up and there are laws in place to retain 'greenbelt land', which is protected for future generations, to make sure the UK stays green and beautiful, instead of turning into a concrete jungle. However, the owner knew when he bought his land, that it was not for residential building and never would be (as it was protected), it was just meant to be farm land. It was never going to change, so why try and cheat the system? In this particular case, the owner has been dishonest and has built a home for himself and his family, totally abusing the rules and regulations in place, meant to protect the rolling green hills for all the population to enjoy.

    Okay, so the castle has been built and, in fact, it is attractive and actually blends in well with its surroundings. In this case I would hope the council would give the owner the choice of:
    (a) keep the castle and pay an enormous fine, so as to deter people from considering this type of action in future (and the council should use that money to plant more trees and take care of the surrounding countryside or
    (b) pull the castle down.
  13. I do believe that family should have gone through the proper channels.

    I grew up in a town that had a Historical Society. They're especially strict in certain parts of town or in certain neighborhoods. (Some of the houses dated back to the colonial times).

    They've had issues with the bank in the town center painting the facade of their building. It was a subtle color, but the building wasn't supposed to be painted in the first place. The bank had a choice: remove the paint (which was difficult to do, given the fact that the facade was made out of concrete bricks) or pay a fine.

    I sometimes thought they were overreacting, but I understand why there needs to be a Historical Society in the first place.
  14. Maybe they could have officials check everything over; see if the place is up to reasonable living standards. I don't see any negative effects this castle may be having on others so why not let them keep it? I guess they just want to deter others from doing the same thing.
  15. Minimouse I agree with you, and think your suggestion of demolition or a hefty fine is excellent.

    And in saying hefty, perhaps have the castle valued and he has to pay at least the value, less his £50,000 building costs- to deter others from copying him.

    I feel sorry for their little boy- what an example to set him. He is unlikely to have a clue about the difference between right and wrong.

    And the castle is beautiful- but that isn't the point. Our greenbelt is far more beautiful and has more right to protection than this castle.