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Castle set for new role as spa attraction

A castle in Staffordshire has been put up for sale, with the historic building set to take on a new role as a wellbeing centre.

Caverswall Castle is a Grade 1 listed property in the Staffordshire Moorlands, six miles from Stoke-on-Trent. With extensive grounds and a moat, it is an attractive property and has gone on sale for £5 million, although it may fetch much more than that.

Built in the 13th century adjacent to the two tributaries of the River Blyth, the castle took on its current name after passing into the hands of Sir William de Caverswall, who gave the castle its name. In 1275, he combined the tributaries to form the moat. 

However, it may not be the water feature that does most to provide income for investors buying the castle. Planning permission exists for a wellness retreat and for accommodation to be built. This could mean the plumbers will soon be at work fitting wetroom waterproofing as spa elements are added, while insulation work will be carried out on the new rooms to ensure they offer comfort in keeping with the standard of the 21st century, not the 13th.

Much of the castle is already very liveable, having been a family home to a number of families, including the Wedgewoods in the 1880s. Its interior is mainly Jacobean, with lots of oak panelling and large fireplaces, an orangery, large guest rooms, a games room, a library and a wine cellar. 

Other features include turrets, extensive grounds and, no doubt to the great excitement of some, dungeons. Of course, renovation work could turn parts of the building built to provide anything but comfort into much more pleasant surroundings for residential or leisure purposes. It is not stated if the castle houses the almost obligatory ghost. 

Discussing the property, Richard Moxon, commercial partner at joint agents for the sale Pennycuick Collins said: "This castle is a rare and remarkable opportunity for any investor. The property has been used as a home and as an event venue previously and there is vast potential for the castle going forward."

The idea of taking an historic castle and turning it into a 21st century leisure destination like a spa might seem unattractive to some, who would value its historical character. But, of course, there is no proposal to do away with aspects like the moat and grounds, while few of the original elements remain as they were. For example, the Jacobean interior is around 400 years younger than the fixtures and fittings that would have been in place when the castle was first built. 

Converting castles in this way is a common and popular form of investment. In Scotland, Perth and Kinross Council recently commissioned architects McKenzie Strickland Associates to draw up new plans for a whole wing of Taymouth Castle to be converted into visitor accommodation, with the castle being redeveloped as a spa hotel. 

Like Caverswall Castle, the building is a grand and historic one, and has plenty of holiday potential being located between two national parks - Loch Lomond & Trossachs and The Cairngorms - just as Caverswall is close to the Peak District. It also has a rich heritage, having hosted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their honeymoon. Whether her majesty would have been amused about it or not, the tasteful development of castles as spa and wellness attractions offers a new use for some much-loved old buildings, showing that with a bit of modern waterproofing and insulation, a great deal can be achieved.