A SECRET American millionaire has bought historic Crichel House in Witchampton, near Wimborne, two years after it was put on the market, it has been reported.
The estate, complete with four villages, a cricket club, a church and a mansion, was reported to be on sale for around £100 million in 2011. However, locals say only the 18th Century Grade I listed house and around 150 acres of land has been sold at a much lower price.
Information about the agreed-upon amount, and the mystery buyer, is currently shrouded in secrecy, but villagers believe the new owner is from Texas, and plans to start a horse stud on the estate.
One Wimborne man, who asked not to be named, said: “I have heard that it’s someone from America, but the whole thing has been done quietly. I remember going back a while now that there were rumours Charles and Diana were going to buy. The locals are quite sick of all the speculation.”
The Crichel estate spans 5,000 acres, and comes with 100 workers and more than 150 other properties. It was owned by the same aristocratic family for the last 300 years prior to the sale.
Its last owner was Mary Marten OBE, goddaughter of the Queen Mother and a child playmate of Princess Margaret, who died in 2010 aged 80.
The estate was then passed down to her six children – Victoria, Charlotte, Georgina, Amabel, Napier and Sophia.
It has been suggested in the national press that the reason a sale of the full estate failed was because the family included strict stipulations, including that oligarchs could not be the owners.
Crichel House has more than 25 rooms, a ballroom and a wine cellar. It overlooks a crescent-shaped ornamental lake. Parts of the 1996 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, were filmed there.