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Concern reemerges for Soane's last country house

The future of John Soane's Pell Wall Hall has been thrown further into doubt after it emerged that the building has been put up for sale.

Late last year experts spoke out about the way the Grade II*-listed mansion - Soane's last country house - was being renovated, and criticised plans to build a new steel and glass balcony on the property in Market Drayton, Shropshire.

Members of The Pell Wall Hall Preservation Trust (PWHPT), who rescued the derelict house in the late '80s, believed some of the proposals for the house were 'simply inappropriate' and were disappointed by the approach to the restoration of owners Kay Johnson and Chris Vassiliou.

The trust spent £1 million of English Heritage money restoring the once-ruined 19th-century building between 1989 and 2003 before selling it on to Johnson and Vassiliou. The pair were selected from more than 1,000 expressions of interest and, according to Soane expert John Wibberley, the trust was confident the new owners would carry out a full and historically authentic restoration of the mansion.

However, following a number of failed planning applications, the house has now gone back on the market. It is understood that a family bereavement may have been behind the final decision to sell up.

The Soane Museum's Stephen Astley said he is in no doubt that the undertaking facing any prospective buyer is considerable. He said: 'This is the sort of property that unless you were pretty committed you wouldn't take it on.'

Estate agents Jackson Stops & Staff are expecting offers of around £1 million for the hall.

by Richard Waite

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