HISTORIC Windlestone Hall has been sold – just days before it was due to go under the hammer at auction.

The Grade II* listed property – the former family home of 1950s Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden – was up for grabs with auctioneer Allsop, which set a guide price of £400,000 plus.

But Lot 310A has now been withdrawn from an auction in London on Thursday.

The Northern Echo understands the offer which has been accepted was already with the mortgagee Barclays prior to the auction, but nonetheless it was listed for sale anyway.

The listing by Allsop described Windlestone as being presented in ‘shell condition’ with possible potential for being converted into flats, a hotel or care accommodation, subject to consent.

In May The Echo revealed how the one grandiose country mansion had been wrecked by thieves and vandals, while Historic England described it as being in a “poor and vulnerable” state.

Windlestone had previously been advertised by estate agents Reeds Rains for £850,000, far more than the £241,000 convicted fraudster William Davenport paid former owner Durham County Council for the property in 2011.

There have been regular viewings arranged of Windlestone in recent months as efforts have been stepped up by Barclays and its agents to sell it.

Barclays, which repossessed the hall after Davenport was jailed last year, said it would not comment.

Meanwhile, the 25 acres of land and external buildings, including a stable block and clock tower, which form part of the estate, has been advertised separately by Leeds-based GVA and has also attracted a number of offers.

Having invited best and final bids, contracts could be exchanged in a matter of weeks.

GVA was instructed as the agent in the sale by the Official Receiver after the previous owner of the land, Garry Moat, was declared bankrupt.

A property developer, who does not wish to be named at this stage, said he had made substantial six figures bids for both the hall and land.

He said:  “I made three offers and I have upped it each time and I am not going any higher.

“I don’t know why they are trying to sell them separately after all that has gone on. It doesn’t add up.

“Buying the hall without the land would be like buying a car with no engine and somebody giving you the keys.”

Local resident John Cumberland, a scrap metal merchant who lives near Windlestone Hall, said: “For someone to buy the hall, they must have negotiated something for the land as well.

“There has been loads of people interested [in Windlestone], but the goalposts have kept moving all the time.

“It would be nice to see them [the buyer] making into a hotel, or do something with it to give it some stature again instead of it being a liability.”