Posted in: Odd News

Farmer Builds Secret Castle, Forced To Tear It Down

Man builds castle

A British farmer who secretly constructed a castle on his property is being forced to tear it down.

Robert Fidler, 63, began building the castle in 2001. However, he kept its construction a secret from local planning officials. Using tarps and a 40-foot high wall of hay bales, he effectively hid the massive structure from view for five years.

According to an article by UPI, the farmer and his family lived within the castle during its years of concealment. Fidler believed he would bypass planning regulations by occupying the residence.

A local planning rule states that buildings constructed without prior permission are not subject to regulation if unchallenged during a consecutive four year period.

The Daily Mail writes that a six year battle with the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has resulted in an unfortunate fate for the farmer’s secret castle. Fidler has been ordered to destroy his beloved structure as a direct result of his concealment.

The Planning Inspectorate, a government agency responsible for ruling on planning appeals, sided this week with the council’s refusal to give Fidler retroactive permission for the castle’s construction.

The ruling, written by inspector Sara Morgan, states the following:

“His actions in constructing the dwelling house behind a wall of straw bales, and then living in the building for over four years before the bales were removed, was intended to conceal the building and its use from the council’s knowledge and thus prevent any enforcement action being taken before it was too late.”

Do you think the farmer should have to tear down his secret castle?

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63 Responses to “Farmer Builds Secret Castle, Forced To Tear It Down”

  1. Anonymous

    Frankly, I can see fining him, but if the Castle passes building codes and is safe. They should let it remain. After all it is his land, m his work and his life.

  2. Daniel Ketchum

    They just object to the idea of a regular person having a castle. Rich things are for rich people is their motto.

  3. Clayton M Frazier

    I don't understand why this is an issue. What right to they have to tell them he can't build it, and why must he have permission to build on his own land?

  4. Rachel Whitaker Kretz

    You have to understand property law in England. A friend of mine explained it to me once. If you own a house in England, you may or may not own the actual property that the house sits on. The land is actually owned by the city or the town that the property is part of, so they can decide what is actually built on their property and deny people the right to build on town owned property. This is entirely strange to us in the U.S., but over there it is very common. The land and tax structures over there are very strange.

  5. Charles Underhill

    That is not right. Sounds like the government is to big and the little man has no rights. Must be following the USA. It is getting like that here. Too much Government.

  6. Charles Underhill

    That is not right. Sounds like the government is to big and the little man has no rights. Must be following the USA. It is getting like that here. Too much Government.

  7. Anonymous

    They're just mad because he skirted all of the building permit fees and they didn't get their slice of the pie….nor did the engineers, or the architects, or the inspectors, or the subcontractors and everybody else who feels left out of his personal quest to accomplish something huge, on his own, for his family. It's not a public building and if it falls it won't fall on the public. It'll fall on him. Where's the liability if this man stays in it until he dies? Do England's older castles comply with modern building codes? I seriously doubt it.

  8. Mark Merkling

    I find it hard to understand, it's really an amazing building, the pictures from inside show the workmanship and effort he went through. To destroy it simply because he built it on his land without their permission is crazy. It sounds like it's HIS land, not the city or whatever, (I read that post) We're getting to be more and more like it here all the time. Looks like it's out in the countryside too, secluded away from folks. >sigh< What a shame.

  9. Marla Magoon

    I'm sorry Daniel, but that's ludicrous. We here in the U.S. must have building permits to build on our own land, and then we pay outrageous property taxes to live in it. Before my husband and I started building our house, our property taxes were $100 a year. After we finished the house, it jumped to nearly $ 4,000 a yr. We had a lot of opposition from our so called neighbors, but we had all of the permits we needed. In the end, Our beautiful home was valued at $350,000.
    Building permits prevent anyone from coming in and saying "I don't like it. So you can't build it here even if it is on your own land."

  10. Anonymous

    They should not have the authority to make him tear it down. However they should be able to not grant occupancy until it meets their building codes. Over reach of local officials in my opinion…

  11. Jeff Cole

    HELL NO DUM BRITISH FOOLS! If he has enough property to hide a castle. If it just so happened that he had a stack of straw in that particular spot. I'd take it to the Queen they are just ROYAL FREELOADERS and have everything given to them if Prince Harry built the castle what would happen? Nothing I bet! Just some control idiots that need to push somebody around. It appears that it does not bother anything and shelters his family. Send the Brit officials to London and let them live with the homeless, educate their anal think BOZO. Support Royalty that does nothing but cost you tax mo0ney and then pick on a guy that is trying to provide shelter. It should be the straw being removed not the building. If it has been around that long before anybody noticed, who in the hell is going to notice if it is up or torn down. A Queen should overrule the peasant officals and their property managers. Will he get stoned to!

  12. Anonymous

    Raise the Drawbridge and prepare for attack! Man the Trebuchet's! Boil some oil!

  13. Paul Bennion

    Govt agents around the world need to think of the good of the people…and keeping this man's dream castle alive is for the good of the people even if he did try to skirt the building codes…
    Nations need excellence and need to eliminate the hordes of immigrants who do no good for England…Support your fellow Englishman I say!! tut tut!

  14. Susan Stephens

    govt doesn't like getting screwed out of tax money permit fees and control over the people – but when govt leaves a LOOPHOLE and the people take advantage of it THAT is not a crime, perhaps a fine – HE NEEDS A BETTER LAWYER! he should win this one on grounds he did exactly what the loophole allowed!

  15. Susan Stephens

    govt never likes losing CONTROL over the people much less the permit fees and taxes those 5yrs – if govt leaves a loophole in building laws they cant complain when someone takes advantage of that loophole –
    LEAVE HIM ALONE he did nothing wrong, not even for a 'fine' much less being out a home! what is he supposed to do now? live IN the bales of hay? CASTLE STAYS LEAVE HIM ALONE he needs better lawyer –

  16. Adam Jacoby

    This is bullshit. That guy worked hard to build that castle I would imagine. That is his own land. Why does the government think that they have the right to tell someone what they can and can't build on their own land. I hate governments! I really do. If someone has the ability to build a structure to live in, then why can't they use their own money and do it without some government a-hole getting in the way. It's ludacris, it's insane. Let the man have his castle if that's what he wants. It's none of anyone's business if it's on the land that HE owns. Oh, and don't get me started on that. Who in the hell decided that we should pay someone else to OWN land. Is it their land to sell? Hell no. If I go out and find a piece of land that noone is using for anything and build a place to live there, why should I pay the government for that land. Am I paying for protection, cause that's a joke.

  17. Michael Hiller

    This is just stupid. They're basically saying "Sorry…but you didn't play by the rules (which are sort of unclear) so we're going to punish you by making you tear it down." When they could just as well fine him, inspect the construction for safety and leave the guy alone!

  18. Jeff Cole


  19. James Fowble

    He deliberately tried to circumvent the buiding codes. But, if the house meets the building safety codes, I think he should only be required to pay for any fees and licenses that he would have had to pay if he constructed the building openly. Plus he should be fined for breaking the law.

  20. James Fowble

    He deliberately tried to circumvent the buiding codes. But, if the house meets the building safety codes, I think he should only be required to pay for any fees and licenses that he would have had to pay if he constructed the building openly. Plus he should be fined for breaking the law.

  21. Brittany Brooks

    It just goes to show you that sometimes we can't count on the government for anything. However, without government there is no order. All those greedy bastards out there would take whatever they wanted just because they can.Oh, wait they still do.we truelly cannot win without losing….it's sad.

  22. Mindy Pomykala

    This is where greed comes into play. The government requires permits and inspections to build, and with the permits and inspections comes fees. They didn't get their piece of the pie out of the deal, so they are pissed. Now this farmer will be homeless.

  23. Kent Ivey

    Just another level of governemnt trying to make people live within their reign. A more lenient compromise and fine would have done fine, but leave it to the magnanimous egotistical politicians to make sure that the masses know just how powerful they can be. Had it been one of the council members, they would have likely shuffled it around and thrown it out altogether.

  24. Janie Hypes Holliday

    I think if the dwelling is proven safe and sanitary, they should be allowed to keep it as their home. I also think the owners should back up and pay any required fees, taxes, and insurance premiums.

  25. Rich Regel

    Seam's to me, very wasteful to destroy something like this. Unless of course you are an arrogant, useless public servant bent on getting some kind of twisted justice off of these actions.
    Prove me wrong by correcting the problem without destruction of property.
    I don't think you can, for it looks as if all the other folks comments pertaining to how full of yourselves you are, appear to be correct.
    Sad world, greedy people.

  26. Anonymous

    Gotta love the Nanny State. "Only the Aristocracy may possess a castle, lovey…" You must forthwith rip it down. (kind of like a Thurston Howell, and/or snobby British accent going on there…)

  27. Anonymous

    Simple: Refuse to tear it down… What is the city going to do? Have the FBI and Homeland Security storm in and claim he's a Terrorist? oh wait, they might very well do that… What a shameful Land of Freedom we live in today….

  28. Kip Bunn

    He intentionally skirted the law when he hid the building as it was be built and after. He knew if they saw it he would be held accountable. The government had 4 yrs to rule on the building, so since he hid it all that time, it seems right that once they became aware of it the clock would start then. QUit all the crying. He broke the law and now he is paying for it. He should have done it legally.

  29. Mary Daniels

    The citizens of that community should wage war on the authorities. that castle is beautiful. Fine him, sentence him to build something for them, but don't destroy that castle. Isn't it also his land? What a shame. His Community needs to wake up and help him force the authorities to back down. Isn't there some lawyer that will take his case pro bono?

  30. Pat Hardy

    Not only no he should not have to give it up but HELL no. They wrote the rules and now they are breaking them. Perhaps they should be more vigilant. If they want to make these rules then it is up to them to enforce them. His 4 years are up. Good on him.

  31. Eldonna Bryant

    This is England? the land of Piers Morgan that he keeps holding up as a shining example of common sense? a man should be able to build his own home on his own land provided it is not an eyesore, this man could be fined but his neighbors (the council) are being extraordinarily vindictive.

  32. Maxine Douglass

    No No No leave it alone. I will just bet it beautified the town when the hay was removed. What a surprise. Leave this man alone. It is certainly better than a south Oak Cliff neighborhood. There are no rules for this area and is a very dangerous neighborhood. Charge a fee and let us see it. Money can go to help the neighborhood.

  33. Matt Ackeret

    What if he has a fire? Should the fire department still come and put his fire out if he didn't follow whatever codes are required in England? *that's* why he must have some sort of permission/building code requirements. If you want to make him responsible for ANYONE getting hurt on his property AND absolve anyone else from having to pay for emergencies caused by HIS problems, fine.

  34. Eric Williams

    IT is on HIS land, HE should be allowed to do as he pleases on HIS OWN LAND, go inspect it, and maybe fine him, but destroying this wrong.

  35. Anonymous


  36. Anonymous

    They should come to a compromise and allow him to keep it an not tear it down. This is where bureaucracy should put their shoe on the one of their feet and retrospectively think if this were theirs would they be asking the same thing be destroyed or find a way to work it out. That's a lot of hard work and the livelihood of a family at stake that they are choosing to ignore and destroy too.

  37. Mary Krauss

    No. He put a lot of his toil and love into it. Why does the government have to have their hands into every thing we do? Don't we have any rights even on our land? Let it stand! Let his family enjoy the works of his labor. My God, he's 63 years old. Let him live the rest of his life in peace. This is his meaning in life to do. Why destroy him and his family?

  38. Anonymous

    Here is the problem, He knowingly hid the construction from the local authorities. If he had just started constructing a building one day in open view and 4 years passed without anyone from the building department questioning him then he might have had a chance. It is called regulation and everyone has to comply so there is uniform code in Building construction methods. It was designed to keep shoddy construction practices from becoming an issue to unsuspecting purchasers long after the sale of a property. Even if he was allowed to keep it no bank would ever finance it upon resale and no insurance company would ever insure it. Electric company would never tie into the fuse box ETC: because it was never an approved structure.

  39. Lyle Lafee

    This is why I never bought a house, the city you live in tells you what you can, build on your property, which you pay taxes on. Then the government got their hands out if you sell it and if you do not live in property they take a huge amount of taxes. Then there is you never really own anything, first the bank owns it, Then if you live, to see your house paid for the house owns you.

  40. Betina Foreman

    I agree with you Mark. It is tragic to destroy a thing of beauty for a lack of city paperwork. This is insane! The city should be happy his building has gotten them so much free press and probably tourists coming to see the castle. They should waive the stupid rule and move on.

  41. Thomas Arthur Martinet

    This is complete lunacy! If it is up to code & safe, then it should be allowed! I agree that he should have to pay any local fees that he should have paid, but to destroy the building, if it is safe, is completely stupid!

  42. Anonymous

    He does not own the land, the LORD of the Land says he can only do what they allow, and if he pays their fees and allows their control over everything he does.
    Such is now the overreach by the US government as well. It is no longer a free world, but one run by a series of oligarchy styled governments, where the company store is now the world, and we are the cattle.

  43. Rod Clark long as he didn't add any crenelations to the building he should be okay…I think you need crown approval to add crenelations…I recall a long time ago this was a law…maybe an archaic one left over from medieval times.

  44. Rod Clark long as he didn't add any crenelations to the building he should be okay…I think you need crown approval to add crenelations…I recall a long time ago this was a law…maybe an archaic one left over from medieval times.

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