Oddly Enough

For sale -- an English village

LINKENHOLT, England (Reuters) - An entire English village, complete with 22 houses and cottages, two blacksmiths and a cricket pitch, goes on sale this week.

The charitable trust which owns Linkenholt in Hampshire, southern England, has decided to sell up and use the capital it raises elsewhere.

The asking price when Linkenholt goes on the open market on Wednesday is 22-25 million pounds ($31-35 million), according to Jackson-Stops & Staff estate agents who are handling the sale.

The archetypal English village is nestled in rolling countryside and boasts a manor house, old rectory and clock tower and is part of a 2,000-acre estate.

One of the few things a buyer would not own is St. Peters church, which originally dates back to the 12th century but was significantly rebuilt in 1871.

Locals, who rent their properties, are expected to stay on after the sale, and most hope that a change in ownership does not mean a change in lifestyle.

“It would be nice if somebody bought the estate and lived here and was Lord of the Manor to be quite honest, that’s the general consensus of everyone in the village,” said Colin Boast, one of the village’s two blacksmiths.

“It would just be nice if somebody looked at the village and said ‘well, let’s keep it as the village it is.’ But you never know.”

Paul Raynesford, a local thatcher, said he thought the asking price for the village was reasonable.

“I think if you were to go around and work out the individual bits I think you’d find it’s quite a fair price, taking into account the price of the agricultural land and the price of the individual properties,” he said.

Tim Sherston of Jackson-Stops called the village a “safe and sound investment” despite the economic slowdown.

“You’ve got an entire village -- 22 houses, a cricket pitch, a village shop, a forge and 1,500 acres of farmland, 450 acres of woodland ... We think actually there will be a lot of potential buyers for this.”

The estate is owned by the Herbert and Peter Blagrave Charitable Trust.

With no heir, the late Herbert Blagrave, a philanthropic racing figure, left his family fortune to a trust, along with orders that the money should be spent on sick children, the elderly and injured jockeys.

Since much of that fortune is still tied up in Linkenholt, the trustees decided it was time to try to sell.

Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato