A fortress that for 700 years served as the seat of religious and often political authority on the Isle of Man is now available for £6 million (US$7.4 million).
Bishopscourt, a hulking castellated stone residence built and rebuilt over the past eight centuries, has since medieval times served as the palace of the Bishop of Sodor and Man. The historic mansion includes a dozen bedrooms, its own church, seven acres of gardens and an elaborate history.
The home hit the market on Friday with Daniel Buxton of estate agents Cowley Groves.
“The stature of the house is hard to quantify, but it is certainly exceptional for the Island in that it combines both a rich history, impressive architecture and a very comfortable family home,” according to the agents.
Early 13th-century bishop Simon Argyll is believed to have been the first to take up residence on the property, building what would be considered a modest wooden structure compared to the citadel into which Bishopscourt would evolve.
Over a century later, bishops razed Argyll’s house and replaced it with King Orry’s Tower, which remains the oldest surviving structure on the property.
In the mid-1600s, the English civil war brought one of the most tumultuous periods in Bishopscourt’s history. It served as a Royalist stronghold until the Isle of Man surrendered to Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces. It then hosted for some time parliamentarian commissioners, including James Chaloner, who is believed to have signed King Charles I’s death warrant, according to an extensive history described in the listing.
As Bishopscourt expanded, its place at the center of island politics meant security was ofchief concern. For instance, in 1825, 5,000 men marched on the property to demand the bishop end taxes on potato, turnip and green crops, according to the listing.
As a result, some of the building’s walls were four- to 10-feet thick.
While much of the current residence dates back to a 17th-century expansion, private owners since the late 1970s have carried out extensive restorations to modernize the home and transform it “from an austere Bishops palace into a warm family home,” said the listing agents.
Mansion Global could not independently confirm who currently owns the home, but it was last reported that property developer John Morphet purchased the home in 2010 for £5 million.
Decoration and relics spanning 700 years are still found throughout the estate, including an old ice house that now acts as additional storage and a main reception hall featuring stained glass from a now-demolished medieval chapel. From more recent history, there’s a plaque in the garden commemorating three trees planted by King George V in 1920.