Prince Charles of England is planning to present his son with a $10 million off-grid home as an engagement gift.
Charles is personally overseeing the plans for the eco-palace where heir to the throne William will eventually move when he marries Kate Middleton. Neither Kate nor William are known for their interest in the environment.
The mansion in Herefordshire will be packed with eco-friendly features including solar powered heating, wood chip boilers and insulation made of sheep’s wool. Floors, window frames and doors are all to be made from oak, fir and larch wood from Charles’s estate. An on-site eco-sewage works will filter waste through a bed of reeds.
Twelve days ago his Duchy of Cornwall estate lodged revised plans with the local council for the work on the main house, Harewood End. Charles bought the Hare wood Park estate for an estimated $10 million six years ago. He is spending the same again on rebuilding the mansion.
Sustainability has underpinned the work. An old sandstone quarry has been re-opened within the estate as a source of stone for essential conservation repairs and for new building works. Oak has been sourced from the Duchy’s Herefordshire woodlands, seasoned and sawn locally to be used for all the timber joinery and fencing within the project. Natural slates have been sourced for the roofs from Wales. Even the new hedges and trees are grown from local varieties and have been planted along historic boundaries as part of the larger parkland restoration plan.
A significant number of parkland trees are being re-established together with the planting of small woodland belts all as part of a comprehensive parkland regeneration scheme implemented with the assistance of a DEFRA Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Environmentally sustainable schemes are being employed to retain rain water run-off from the building complexes and the sewage from the project will be treated by a number of reed-bed filtration systems. The larger building complex at Grange Farm will be heated by way of a biomass wood burning district heating system.
The original mansion was demolished after being used as target practice by the SAS in the 1950s. The new royal residence on the 900-acre estate has been substantially downgraded from its original plan, but is still fit for a king.
In addition to six bedrooms, there are five bathrooms, a dressing room, dining room, drawing room, library, orangery – and a boot room where clothes can be hung up to dry instead of wasting energy on driers.
Architects have designed detailed stone panels depicting winged lions, inspired by Apollo, the Greek god of harmony. Behind the grey-green arch facade, visitors will be met by a hall of columns, recreating a forest.
Locals say William (son of Diana and Charles) and Kate, who are both 24, visited the estate to view their future home earlier in the year. In recent months, the prince’s girlfriend has played an increasingly high profile, enjoying regular chats with the Queen. On Friday she watched as William was commissioned as an army officer after graduating from Sandhurst. It was the first time Kate – who met the prince at St Andrews University in 2001 – has been William’s guest at a high-profile public event attended by the Queen. She was due to spend Christmas with the Royal Family but turned it down to spend the time with her own – Palace insiders say the marriage could take place as early as next year. Charles, whose Highgrove Estate is an hour’s drive away, gained planning permission for a much bigger house two years ago. But the new mansion will be half the size after he decided it was too expensive. Project architect Craig Hamilton said: “It will be a triumph if this can be achieved.”
The estate was granted to the Knights Templar by King John in 1215 but had become an overgrown wilderness. Today, several outbuildings have been turned into offices. A derelict church is nearly restored and will be used as an artist’s studio.
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