£25m Spott Estate broken up to attract buyers

SCOTLAND’S most expensive country estate is to be broken up and placed on the market as a luxury residential home, plus other properties and land.

The Spott Estate was once valued at £25 million and has been up for sale for three years, but failed to find anyone willing to buy it outright.

Numbering some 16 residential buildings and around 2,400 acres of land, the East Lothian site has attracted interest from Europe and abroad, but struggled to find a single buyer due to its huge price tag and the recession.

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Property agents Knight Frank have sold 60 per cent of the arable land for farming this week, and will now relaunch the sale of the estate in April, with individual residential homes available.

Spott House, an imposing four-storey, nine-bedroom mansion, is alone expected to sell for between £2m and £3m, according to some industry figures.

While fully updated in the 1830s by owner James Sprot, the building dates back to the 13th century, when Elias de Sprot swore fealty to King Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots.

It holds the dubious distinction of hosting witch-hunt executions in October 1705, when there were “many witches burnt on the top of Spott loan”, according to records.

Industry insiders suggested the previous lumping together of sprawling farmland and the luxury mansion properties – the second site on the estate is the huge seven-bedroom Brunt Farmhouse – made a deal unlikely.

Interest from Europe and Russia is now expected to be significant, not least because of its historic origins. In 2009, Knight Frank sold 41 per cent of its country properties to foreigners, with Russians accounting for 13 per cent of buyers.

The firm also expects wealthy London financiers searching for a country retreat to be among the bidders.

“The sale of 1,500 acres of arable land now repositions the balance of the site – it’s a completely different animal,” said James Denne, head of farm sales at Knight Frank.

“The principal site is easily one of the finest properties in Scotland, a fabulous house. We’re expecting the level of interest to be significant. It could be investors, local interest from Edinburgh, buyers from Europe or further afield, people with a sporting interest.

“It may be commuters from London. The transport links to Edinburgh, which is 31 miles away, are excellent, even if it’s someone who goes down on Monday morning and comes back on Friday night.”

Schools such as Belhaven Hill in nearby Dunbar, one of the few remaining full-boarding preparatory schools in Scotland, are also expected to make the house popular with well-to-do families.

Along with Spott House and the Brunt Farmhouse properties, there are 14 modernised cottages around the estate which are set to attract interest among local buyers.

Danish industrialist Lars Foghsgaard has owned the sprawling estate since 2000, and lived with his family at the B-listed main house until around 2010, when he returned to Denmark.

A noted hunting enthusiast, Mr Foghsgaard has been described as “a legendary shot” and is believed to have bought Spott for its rolling terrain, which offers driven partridge and pheasant shooting, plus duck-flighting and roe-deer stalking.