finance

I built a £1Million castle on my own land but council made me DEMOLISH it… they tried to destroy me but it didn’t work


A FARMER who had to destroy his £1 MILLION castle after a High Court order has said he has moved on and is happier than ever.

Robert Fidler, 73, lost his legal battle in 2015 and was forced to tear down the mock-Tudor pile that he had built with his bare hands.

Robert lost his legal battle to keep the mock-Tudor pile

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Robert lost his legal battle to keep the mock-Tudor pileCredit: SWNS
Construction on his castle lasted two years and used over 300 trees

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Construction on his castle lasted two years and used over 300 treesCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The crafty farmer hid the entire construction behind a massive blue tarpaulin, tyres and stacks of hay bales

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The crafty farmer hid the entire construction behind a massive blue tarpaulin, tyres and stacks of hay balesCredit: Glenn Harvey – The Sun
In 2015 the project was torn down

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In 2015 the project was torn down

The Surrey farmer said he decided to build the castle himself after having a planning application completely ignored.

He told The Sun: “I had applied for planning permission in 1998 and in 2005 when they asked me to demolish the building, they still hadn’t answered my planning application, seven years later.

“Their own legislation says they are supposed to reply to me within eight weeks and they did not do it within eight years.”

Construction on his four bed castle – which boasted its own battlements and cannons – lasted two years and used over 300 trees.

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But the crafty farmer hid the entire construction behind a massive blue tarpaulin, tyres and stacks of hay bales for a further four years until it was unveiled in 2005.

Mr Fidler had hoped that he could use a loophole in the planning system which said that if a building had stood for four years without planning permission it would be allowed to remain.

He explained: “Obviously I was a bit cheeky, I built it behind a stack of straw so they would not find it for the four years.

“But the law made no provision for it being concealed.”

Reigate and Bansted Borough Council ordered Mr Fidler to take down the building, which he said was built on an “industrial yard” at Honeycrock Farm in Salfords.

He continues to live in the farm’s converted office with his wife Linda, 52, and son Harry, 21. He has five other children and 15 grandchildren.

Inside are pictures of the castle which had a glass dome on the roof that Mr Fidler said came from Brighton Pier.

He also said he kept the materials as he didn’t want to throw them away and he has reused the front door and wooden beams on which is inscribed: “We thank God for Jesus.”  

The family had lived in the house – which Mr Fidler wants compared to a Picasso – for 15 years until its demolition.

Now only the fireplace remains and some of the gating, around which are piles of materials and a gazebo with chairs in which Mr Fidler said is for family events.

Mr Fidler, a born-again Christian, said: “I’m not a criminal, all I did was build a house for my family to live in on my own farm.

Obviously I was a bit cheeky, I built it behind a stack of straw so they would not find it for the four years

Robert Fidler

“When you think the council is desperately looking for places to build houses and spending all this money to demolish mine, it’s quite shocking isn’t it?”

Mr Fidler tried to appeal the council’s order, taking his case all the way to the High Court.

But he was ordered to demolish the house despite finding bats roosting in the loft.

He was also handed a three-month suspended sentence and warned he would be jailed for his “defiance” if the property was not demolished by June 2015.

But despite all the drama, the saga has made the family famous internationally.  

Mr Fidler said he was invited onto a German talk show and was flown out at the channel’s expense to discuss his ordeal.

He was even interviewed on American radio and by Russian state TV.

He continues to run his farm of beef cattle where he said he has between 50-100 cows at any one time.

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He concluded: “We have moved on and we are happy.

“They thought they could destroy us but they haven’t.”

Construction on his four bed castle - which boasted its own battlements and cannons - lasted two years and used over 300 trees

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Construction on his four bed castle – which boasted its own battlements and cannons – lasted two years and used over 300 treesCredit: PA:Press Association
The farmer lost his legal battle in 2015 and was forced to tear down the mock-Tudor pile in Surrey

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The farmer lost his legal battle in 2015 and was forced to tear down the mock-Tudor pile in Surrey
The farmer and his wife are now born again Christians

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The farmer and his wife are now born again ChristiansCredit: Glenn Harvey – The Sun
The saga raged for a decade until he was forced to tear the pad down

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The saga raged for a decade until he was forced to tear the pad downCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The property cost Mr Fidler £1 million

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The property cost Mr Fidler £1 millionCredit: PA:Press Association
Mr Fidler says he has since moved on

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Mr Fidler says he has since moved onCredit: PA:Press Association





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