On December 22, 2005, I wrote about an offer that seemed too good to be true. Well, you know what they say about things that are "too good to be true..." They often are just that.
I described an offer from Baronet Sir Benjamin Slade, age 59. It seems that the Baronet has no heir but is desperate to pass his ancestral home, Maunsel Home, to someone in the family. He offered his stately home to any male named Slade who could provide DNA evidence that he is the closest relative of all those who applied. The Baronet's home is near Taunton in southwest England. It dates in part from the 13th century and boasts a library, a dining room for 80 guests, and a staff of five.
Two months later, the Baronet has given up on the idea. He also mentions that the home costs £85,000 (roughly $150,000 U.S.) annually to maintain the property with 13 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and two hidden attic rooms so inaccessible that he visits them "once every 20 years to remove dead birds and mouse droppings." Slade has spent much of the money he had left trying to restore the family seat to its former glory but nevertheless failed to sell the house 18 months ago. The manor is now worth "diddly squat," according to Slade.
"The Slades have been living in genteel poverty for 120 years, and now I want nothing more to do with the dump," he said. "I want to give it all up and move into a council house. People living in council houses don't know what a hell it is living in a place like this. It's bloody hard work keeping a house like this going. I've got mice under the floorboards, the roof is leaking - it's terrible. And when I want to do anything, I have to call English Heritage and planning officers and a few months later I can mend a tile."
You can read more about Sir Benjamin Slade's problems at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1712999,00.html