On the right track: Historic house with railway sells for nearly £2.4m

aerial view of Mendham Priory

Mendham Priory which has just sold for a little under £2.4m. It comes as homes in Norfolk and Suffolk are popular with buyers fleeing the capital because of Covid, with prices going up. - Credit: Strutt & Parker

A grand house near Diss, with its own railway, tunnel and engine shed has sold.

Grand 19th century building called Mendham Priory

Mendham Priory, a grand 19th century house with six bedrooms. It has just sold. - Credit: Strutt & Parker

Mendham Priory, in 27.5 acres, with a 7¼ inch gauge railway which runs round the periphery of the parkland with sidings, was snapped up by a local buyer, bucking the trend.

The sale comes as houses in Norfolk and Suffolk continue to attract buyers fleeing the capital for rural homes because of Covid. Meanwhile, the average house price in the UK went up 8.5pc in the year to December 2020, the biggest rise since 2014. In Norfolk, prices rose on average by 7.5pc.

Tom Goodley, director of Strutt & Parker, which sold Mendham Priory, said: "We’re still seeing a significant number of buyers from London and the Home Counties who want to move to Norfolk. A lot of these buyers are coming via our other offices in the south who are instructed to sell their houses.

"The demand is as strong as it was in the peak of the summer market and we are conducting as many private off market sales as I can remember in 15 years."

A railway in the grounds of a large house in Mendham near Diss

The railway and engine shed in the grounds of Mendham Priory. - Credit: Strutt & Parker

Mendham Priory estate was purchased in 1824 by Alexander Adair, of the renowned Adair family, who lived at nearby Flixton Hall. 

By the mid-1870s, the property was home to the Dimmocks and formed the centre of a working estate. The Dimmock family put in the railway and remained at Mendham Priory well into the 20th century.

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During the Second World War the property survived a nearby bomb blast which is said to have lifted the entire roof off the conservatory without breaking a single pane of glass.

Mendham Lodge made from ancient priory building materials

Mendham Lodge, made from some of the building materials used in the original priory. - Credit: Strutt & Parker

The six-bedroom house with views over the Waveney valley was sold with its lodge which has some of the building materials used in the original priory, founded in the 12th century. This fell into decay and wasn't actually located on the current site. 

House price growth

A house in Norfolk is worth, on average, 7.5pc more than it was a year ago, according to Land Registry figures. This equates to a £250,000 house being worth £18,750 more.

Breckland saw the biggest rise, with prices going up by 10pc in the year to an average of £245,863. North Norfolk was second, with a 9.4pc rise to an average price of £282,889. King's Lynn & West Norfolk saw the next biggest rise of 8.4pc to £237,037 and Norwich of 8.3pc to £219,104. 

South Norfolk saw a 6.3pc rise to £279,499, Broadland 5.1pc to £275,297 and Great Yarmouth 5pc to £185,978.

The increase reflects pent-up demand, some possible changes in housing preferences since the pandemic such as less chains and a response to the stamp duty holiday deadline looming next month.