A renowned archaeologist has been praised by a judge for stepping in to save a near-derelict 17th Century manor house.
Professor Warwick Rodwell lavished his time and money on the listed architectural gem in Northwold High Street which had fallen into a state of disrepair.
Its condition was so bad that King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council compulsorily acquired it from its former owner Mavis Meredith in 2013.
Professor Rodwell, aged 70, fell in love with it and bought it from the council for £125,000.
Estimating the total cost of restoration at £1.5 to £1.6 million, the architectural historian and consultant archaeologist at Westminster Abbey said it was ‘approaching terminal collapse’ and had dry rot ‘absolutely everywhere’.
Judge David Hodge told the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal on Tuesday: “There are not many people around like Professor Rodwell”.
Mrs Meredith brought the case before the tribunal because she was entitled to compensation after the compulsory purchase and had claimed £360,000.
But the council said the property would cost about £1.2m to restore to a ‘good but not excellent habitable standard’.
Judge Hodge said in a modernised condition it would be worth only £700-800,000 – less than the cost of restoration.
He ordered the council to pay £125,000 in compensation – what Professor Rodwell had been prepared to pay.