Hidden hermit's cottage with royal history on the market

Set in pristine ancient woodland

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Colwell Wood Cottage from the air

It may not be made of gingerbread, but this cottage deep in the woods is certainly like something from a fairy tale.

Perfect for a would-be hermit, Colwell Wood Cottage, near Honiton in Devon, is set in its own 75 acres of woodland and has an impressive pedigree.

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The estate is listed in the Domesday Book, and the land was once owned by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who went on to become Richard III.

"From the 16th century onwards the land passed through several local gentry families and was purchased for the princely sum of £1,210 in 1793 by Admiral Thomas Graves," say agents Humberts.

"The Admiral won national fame as Lord Nelson's second in command, achieving a great naval victory at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, with The Times saluting him as 'a very gallant fellow'."

The bluebell woods

The cottage was built soon after, and probably used by a gamekeeper or woodman. But it was abandoned in the mid-twentieth century and fell into ruin - until the present owners bought it in the 1980s.

The living room

The house itself isn't huge, at 1,256 square feet and with only three bedrooms - one of which, an ensuite, is downstairs. There's a large reception room with beams and a wood-burning stove, and a good-sized family kitchen with a range cooker.

But it's the surroundings that justify the £1.25 million price tag. The ancient oak woodland is filled with bluebells in spring and is 'an incredible haven for wildlife and nature', the agents say, with bats, birds, deer and butterflies. There's also a spring-fed pond.

The view from the house at night

In an area of outstanding natural beauty and surrounded by trees on every side, the house sits in a small clearing and is only visible from the air. It's already been extended once, now boasting a garage, and as it isn't listed there might be the option of extending it further - although there's a risk of damaging its unique charm.

UK property hotspots 2017 (according to Zoopla)

UK property hotspots 2017 (according to Zoopla)