Surrey

Surrey farmer reveals inside of 'hidden castle'

Robert and Linda Fidler
Image caption Robert Fidler and his wife Linda want to remain in the property

A farmer who built a mock Tudor castle without planning permission is preparing to spend his last Christmas in his home before it is demolished.

Robert Fidler, 66, hid the building behind straw bales for four years when he built it in Redhill, Surrey.

Following almost a decade of legal battles he has been told to demolish it by June or face three months in prison.

He said: "This is our home. Everybody who comes here says they just feel this is home."

Mr Fidler, who gave the BBC a tour of his property, said: "It's got such a warmth about it.

"We have so many things going on the kids love to be here."

Image caption Mr Fidler said he intends to enjoy one last Christmas in his home
Image caption The mock Tudor castle is furnished with wood throughout
Image caption Parts of the property were made with salvaged and reclaimed materials

He added: "We've got three bedrooms and one little box room so it's not as big as people seem to think.

"At least we can enjoy it for this winter.

"Then we'll have to start making plans, maybe they'll let us keep part of it? Reduce the size of it or something, maybe reduce it to a bungalow?"

Mr Fidler said he had contacted firms to find out how much the demolition of his property would cost but as he had until June to comply with the court he would not be tearing down his house in the middle of winter.

Image caption It was built on the site of the farm's yard
Image caption Mr Fidler told the High Court he could not demolish the castle as there were bats living there
Image caption The building has three main bedrooms and a box room

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council first told Mr Fidler to demolish his home in 2007.

In November, he appeared in court again and claiming he could not destroy the castle as bats, which are protected by law, were roosting in the property.

However, a High Court judge disagreed, giving him a three-month suspended sentence.

He said Mr Fidler would be jailed for his "defiance" if the property was not demolished by June.

Image caption The castle was described as an "amazing structure" by the organiser of a petition to save the property but it does not have listed status, despite the plaque
Image caption The High Court has ordered Mr Fidler to demolish his property by June

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites