Many people don’t even know it exists, but a castle steeped in history dating back to medieval times is up for auction. DAVID MILLS steps back in time.

TUCKED away high above the Bluewater shopping centre, Stone Castle is due to go to under the hammer at a starting price of £750,000.

The Grade II listed building is thought to have been built on the same site as where William the Conqueror signed a treaty with the men of Kent in 1067, a year after the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings.

While the majority of the current building is late Georgian, built around 1825, the tower is from a defensive structure built in the mid to late 13th century.

Auctioneer John Stockey from Clive Emson land and property auctioneers says it is the oldest building he has had in an auction.

He said: “We regularly deal with unusual properties.

“If you have something like this, how do you value it?

“It’s a lovely building.

“There's an awful lot of historical anecdotal evidence that goes with it.”

In more recent times, the castle, owned by Land Securities, has been used as a venue for conferences and weddings.

Set in two-and-a-half acre landscaped gardens, the site of Stone Castle also consists of a detached cottage, three office suites and a detached barn at the rear.

Mr Stockey said: “Not many people know that it’s actually there, which adds more spice to it.

“It’s not the place you drive past.

“When I go to Bluewater I know it’s there because I can see the top of the parapet.”

The auction takes place on November 5 at the Ramada Hotel in Maidstone.

Calls to keep castle as heritage asset

Stone Parish Council looked at bidding for the castle, but says money is tight due to plans to build a £500,000 sports pavilion in Stone Recreation Ground.

Yet the council is keen to see any new owner open the castle to the public and preserve it as a community and heritage asset.

Parish council clerk Jennie Thomas said: “The council has always felt a building of such local historical significance warrants some form of public access, perhaps in the form of a heritage centre, which would allow people to find out about the castle’s rich past and relevant local history, particularly regarding Blue Circle.

“We did broach the idea of a potential funding application through the Heritage Lottery Fund but the timescale leading up to auction was felt to be far too tight to achieve a satisfactory proposal.”

News Shopper: STONE: Hidden castle from medieval era up for auction


1067: On the site where the castle was built, William the Conqueror signed a treaty with the men of Kent.

1135-40: The castle is believed to have been built during this period, without permission from the then King of England Stephen of Blois. However his successor, Henry II allowed it to remain.

1165: Thomas A Becket allegedly stopped at Stone Castle on his way to Canterbury.

1300s: Castle falls into disrepair and is rebuilt.

1527: Henry VIII’s right-hand man Cardinal Wolsey, martyr and saint Sir Thomas More and the third Earl of Derby were among the visitors to the castle.

1660: The castle became the property of Dr Thomas Plume, Arch Deacon of Rochester.

1907: The castle was occupied by Charles Hubback Watson JP who was managing director of a local cement works which later became Blue Circle Cement.

Second World War: The RAF occupied the castle, installing an anti-aircraft gun and shell bunker in the grounds.

1992: Michael Heseltine MP, then Environment Secretary, visited the castle to discuss the development of Bluewater.

2000: Land Securities buys the castle, which was then used as a corporate and private function venue.

2009: Castle goes under the hammer with bids starting at £750,000.